The government is to meet tomorrow to discuss the proposed new legislation to prevent image based sexual abuse.
As part of the proposed laws, someone who aims to harm another person by sharing their intimate images could be imprisoned for up to seven years and face an unlimited fine.
It will also be an offence for a person to forward on those images after receiving them - a person caught doing this could be fined up to €5,000 or spend up to one year in prison.
Last week, it emerged that thousands of images of Irish women and girls had been leaked online.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee says legislation to tackle the issue has been a long time coming.
"It literally has ruined lives for people, people have taken their lives," she told LMFM earlier today.
The impact is already being felt by survivor support groups.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is receiving a couple of calls a day from women worried about the recent leaks.
CEO Noeline Blackwell believes the proposed legislation will help.
"We will hear of people who are distraught, who are extremely upset who are actually harmed by the the abuse that's been carried out on them."
The Chief Executive also believes the punishments reflect how seriously Irish society wants to tackle the issue:
"It is true to say you reduce the space for criminal behaviour when you have serious penalties on show."
"It shows the level of disapproval of our former society and is consistent with the level of harm that can be caused by these harmful communications."
think of the women who’s images have been shared & who now live every day in fear as ur daughters, sisters.
think of the men trading these images like pokemon cards & villifying all efforts to stop them as ur sons, brothers.
this should hurt you. if it doesn’t, ur the problem.
— minister for alternative lifestyles (@mizzdoublek) November 19, 2020
Charity Calls On Men To "Step Up" To Tackle The Issue
White Ribbon Ireland also believes the proposed legislation will help to eliminate the problem.
Sean Cooke, CEO of the Men's Development Network, is calling on men to speak out against those sharing intimate images of others.
"The White Ribbon is about men ending violence against women this is one piece of legislation that will help to eradicate this type of violence against women ," he said.
"It's about men stepping up and stepping in and saying this is not acceptable behaviour, this is not what men should be doing," he said.
The simple action of the crime was highlighted by Cliona Sadlier from the Rape Crisis Network:
"If you click a button online to share an image without someone's consent that action continues without you doing anything else," she said.
"The harassment of the activity on the part of the perpetrator may just be the click of a button,"
Victims of abusive behaviour are being urged to call the Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 77 88 88