Category: Scotland

Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016, Section 2

Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016, Section 2

Section 2 of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 makes it a criminal office to disclose, or threaten to disclose, a photograph or film which shows, or appears to show, another person in an intimate situation. Introduced in response to the growing phenomenon of ‘revenge porn’, whereby vengeful ex-partners distribute private sexual images without the consent of their former partners, the offence goes further than this. It also extends to the non-consensual distribution of other forms of image-based sexual abuse, notably so-called upskirt images, that those (often but not always) surreptitiously taken up a woman’s skirt, and pornographic photoshopping, where, for example, an individual’s Facebook profile picture is superimposed onto an explicit image. As such it was the first – and to date only – legislation in the UK and Ireland addressing varied forms of image-based sexual abuse.

Section 2 of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 is unusual in delivering more than it promised. Sold as an offence to address the problem of revenge porn, from the outset it has gone beyond this. By the time it was passed, the so-called ‘revenge porn law’ provides a bespoke response to multiple forms image-based sexual abuse. As such it is a key milestone in ongoing efforts to protect and respect women’s privacy and sexual autonomy both on and off line.

Erika Rackley

The full version of this landmark is written by Erika Rackley.

Learn More

Not Yours to share:

Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley, ‘Not “revenge porn”, but abuse: let’s call it image-based sexual abuse’ (Everyday Victim Blaming, 6 March 2016)

Clare McGlynn, Erika Rackley and Ruth Houghton, ‘“Beyond ‘Revenge Porn”: The Continuum of Image-Based Sexual Abuse’ (2017) 25(1) Feminist Legal Studies 25–46

Clare McGlynn, ‘The Law Must Protect All Victims Of Image-Based Sexual Abuse – Not Just Upskirting’ Huffington Post, 9 March 2018

Margaret Kidd

Margaret Kidd

Allowing women to become advocates was an essential step in changing the nature of both the arguments being put before Courts, and the decisions made by them. Kidd’s practice centred on family law, where she was appreciated by her contemporaries as adding a new dimension to old problems.
Catriona Cairns

Black and white photo of Margaret Kidd in her wig and gown
Margaret Kidd from The Sphere (13 Mar 1926), image copyright to the British Newspaper Archives

Margaret Henderson Kidd’s (1900-1989) life was a series of firsts: first woman member of the Faculty of Advocates (the Scottish Bar) in July 1923, first woman advocate (barrister) to appear before the House of Lords and a parliamentary select committee, first woman King’s Counsel in the United Kingdom, and the first woman member of the Scottish judiciary (as sheriff-principal).

She was a remarkable woman. Typically for her generation, Margaret Kidd denied having faced any discrimination at work during her career while at the same time remarking that ‘if I’d been a man I might have built up a bigger practice.’

Kidd followed Madge Easton Anderson, the first woman in the United Kingdom to qualify as a solicitor in December 1920, Ivy Williams, the first woman called to the Bar in England and Wales in May 1922, and Helena Normanton, the first woman to practice at the Bar in England and Wales. Frances Kyle was the first woman called to the Bar in Ireland, in November 1921 and Averil Deverell was the first woman to practise at the Irish Bar.

The full version of this landmark is written by Catriona Cairns.


Learn More

Stewart McRobert, ‘A Bar Removed’ (The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, 20 October 2014)


Madge Easton Anderson

Madge Easton Anderson

It is striking how little was made of Anderson’s achievement, particularly in comparison to the degree of fame, even of notoriety, enjoyed by similar pioneers in England. Anderson’s career was not widely reported in Scottish legal publications, although one newspaper reproduced a photograph of her in her graduation robes following her petition

Alison Lindsay

Madge Easton Anderson (1896-1982) was the first woman in the United Kingdom to qualify as a solicitor in December 1920, following a successful petition to the Court of Session (Scotland’s highest civil court), although the decision was not formally registered until January 1921. She was also the first woman qualified to practise law in both Scotland and England, and to be a partner in the first UK law firm to be run exclusively by women.



The full version of this landmark is written by Alison Lindsay.


Learn More

Hector L MacQueen ‘Scotland’s First Women Law Graduates: A Centenary’ [2009] Edinburgh Law School Working Papers Series


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