Sending unsolicited explicit photographs could result in six months in jail under new proposals in Finland.
The Justice Ministry is reportedly planning to update laws so that sexual harassment would include “harassment verbally, through pictures or messages, taking photos of another or exposing oneself”.
Those caught sending so called “d**k pics” or “cyber flashing” could face punishments ranging from a fine to a prison sentence.
Sami Kiriakos, senior legislative advisor to Finland’s Justice Ministry, said: “The studies based on questionnaires show that sexual harassment is quite common and that the victims of this type of behaviour are most often female, so it is very relevant to consider how it should be dealt with in law.”
At present, the law in Finland only recognises behaviour as sexual harassment if it involved physical touch.
Sending explicit images can sometimes be prosecuted under defamation laws.
These new proposals form part of a major overhaul of the sexual offences legislation, which would also see the legal definition of rape changed to mean sex without consent rather than with violence or threat of violence.
All are likely to come before the Finnish parliament sometime next year, according to AFP.
Overhaul of sexual offences laws
Research has revealed online sexual harassment, including the sending of unsolicited sexual images, has become widespread.
Plan International, a children’s rights charity, found 51 per cent of 14,000 girls and young women surveyed globally had experienced sexual harassment online.
And 35 per cent of 15- to 25-year-olds had received sexual or explicit photos or images.
Online sexual harassment was outlawed in Scotland in 2010 and last year Texas in the US introduced a $500 fine for sending unsolicited sexual images.
Banned in Scotland
Prosecution can prove difficult.
“These types of offences, or virtually anything that occurs on the web, may be very difficult to investigate,” Mr Kiriakos told AFP.
But he added: “Investigative authorities do have coercive measures which apply to sexual offenses if certain conditions are met, such as access to telecommunications data.”