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“Upskirting”: what’s it all about?

Montana Duncan lifts the hem on a curious form of sexual offending

The case of a 36-year-old Sydney man who allegedly filmed up women’s skirts for his own sexual gratification has highlighted the phenomenon of “upskirting”.

Samuel Tjin appeared in Bankstown Local Court this week, charged with filming women at locations including outside a mirrored office block in the CBD and on a train platform, from a carriage below.

It’s the latest case of “upskirting” – a practice facilitated by the spread of mobile phones with cameras – to come before the courts.

But what prompts some men to commit this type of crime? And how prevalent is it?

Samuel Tjin: Channel 9, A Current Affair

Georgina O’Donnell, a forensic and clinical psychologist experienced in the field of paraphilic disorders, the clinical condition associated with upskirting, calls it “a behaviour for the purpose of sexual gratification”.

She adds that perpetrators are “generally excited by the deception involved in ‘sneaking’ images of the private parts of non-consenting individuals … [They] use the images for later sexual gratification (e.g. masturbation) and some share the images with others of like-minded interest.”

Those engaging in this behaviour range in age from 20 to 60, in Dr O’Donnell’s experience.

Where “peeping toms” of earlier eras might have peered through a crack in the curtains, technology has made it possible for almost anyone to take illicit photographs or video – and not only save them for personal use, but share them online.

The extent of the problem is difficult to determine, since no official statistics are kept on upskirting. Nor is there a specific law in NSW, although a section of the Crimes Act 1990 (NSW) applies to such behaviour, according to Sydney criminal lawyers George Sten & Co:

Samuel Tjin: Channel 9, A Current Affair

“It is an offence for a person to film another person’s private parts for the purpose of obtaining or enabling another person to obtain sexual arousal or sexual gratification, without the consent of the person being filmed and knowing that the person being filmed does not consent to being filmed for that purpose.” 

Dr O’Donnell says upskirters can receive forensic psychological treatment. “Most offenders of this kind do not perceive it as a problem until they experience negative consequences of their behaviour,” she says. If convicted, an offender may be required, as part of his sentence, to seek such treatment.

Mr Tjin, of Revesby, in Sydney’s southwest, is charged with 10 counts of filming a person’s private parts without consent and three counts of attempting to commit the same offence, including filming of the private parts of a child aged under 16. – @montana_duncan

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