14 Jan Sexualized violence at the UDE: Upskirting and cameras on toilets
In May 2020, the university was informed of a case of upskirting. This occurred at the UDE, more precisely in a lecture. An unknown person used a cell phone to film under a female student’s skirt.
On May 26, the WDR interviewed the woman, as well as Christine Heil, the central equal opportunity commissioner, and Lena Ostermann from the Autonomous Women*’s Department on this topic. The article was broadcast on 26.05.
Through conversations with student representatives of the universities in Osnabrück, Trier, Kassel and Bielefeld we learned about cameras that were also found in ladies’ toilets at these universities at the beginning of the year. These were often positioned so that the perpetrators were able to film the genital area of the persons concerned in order to then upload these videos to pornographic websites. The respective universities have hardly supported the affected students since the cameras haven been found and have not yet addressed the problem to this day.
A few years ago, hidden microcameras were also found in ladies’ toilets at the UDE. We take a stand against such acts of sexualized violence and call for more courage on the part of students, staff and lecturers.
Upskirting violates the general right of personality but is not punishable yet.
- 201a StGB (German Criminal Code) prohibits the violation of the “highly personal sphere of life” through image recordings. However, this provision only applies if a person is in certain buildings or rooms (e.g. public toilets and changing rooms as well as private living spaces) and if an image or a video is made or transmitted without authorization.
If a woman is photographed under her skirt against her will and the picture is kept, this violates her personal rights, but cannot be prosecuted under criminal law.
Harassment of the general public by upskirting
In serious cases, upskirting can be a form of harassment of the general public (§ 118 para. 1 OWiG), which means that people who observe the assault and feel harassed because of it can report the incident. This is currently the only way to bring about legal consequences for the offender in such a situation.
For example, the Constitutional Court of Munich, decision of March 4, 2009, ref. M 22 p. 08.5986, declared a decision to be lawful, which prohibited a man from photographing women under their skirts on escalators. In this case the man had photographed the genital area of women on escalators in several cases.
Penalties, expulsions and confiscations should become possible
The states of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia justify their legislative initiative by stating that it should become easier to take action against offenders, to record their personal data, to issue reprimands and to confiscate cameras or cell phones. It is necessary that the Bundestag approves the new and revised laws. This is the only way to protect those affected and to point out the legal consequences for perpetrators.
The autonomous women*’s department, the AStA chair and the office of gender equality work closely together to proceed against such acts of violence. The current legal situation makes an increased civil courage all the more important, because your attention can be crucial for the people involved. So, if you see people filming women under their skirts or notice suspicious behavior/suspicious objects in toilets, please show solidarity, intervene in the situation or contact us.
Furthermore, we would like to encourage affected persons to contact us if they have experienced sexualized violence or harassment. We will support you!
If you have had experiences with upskirting, sexualized violence or sexism, you can contact the autonomous Women*’s department. The two representatives, as well as the entire AStA, will be at your side in any case. You are not alone!