Councillor Elisa O'Donovan is urging other women to report instances of "cyberflashing."

Independent councilor Elisa O'Donovan tweeted on May 1 that a man had sent her an unsolicited nude image via WhatsApp and later said that similar incidents had been happening ever since she was elected to Limerick City and County Council. 

"Unfortunately my day started with a WhatsApp message sent to my phone of a picture of an erect penis. This is incredibly intrusive.

"Cyberflashing is an act of sexual violence and it shouldn’t be acceptable," O'Donovan tweeted on May 1. 

Today was the start of my holidays and some recharge time 🧘🏼‍♀️ Unfortunately my day started with a WhatsApp message sent to my phone of a picture of an erect penis. This is incredibly intrusive. Cyberflashing is an act of sexual violence and it shouldn’t be acceptable pic.twitter.com/YlJcfloPnW

— Cllr Elisa O'Donovan (@elisaodonovan) May 1, 2021

Gardai have since confirmed that the suspect, a male in his late 30s, has been arrested. He was detained at Henry Street Garda Station but has since been released without charge. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

O'Donovan welcomed the news in a follow-up tweet on Wednesday evening and told thE Irish Examiner that it was "very important" to report such incidents to prevent perpetrators from targeting other women. 

On Twitter, she wrote: "Today I was notified by @gardainfo that an individual has been arrested in relation to this cyberflashing incident. I am very grateful for all their hard work.

"I hope this action sends a strong message to others that cyber flashing is sexual harassment and is wrong."

Today I was notified by @gardainfo that an individual has been arrested in relation to this cyberflashing incident. I am very grateful for all their hard work 🙏 I hope this action sends a strong message to others that cyber flashing is sexual harassment and is wrong https://t.co/BouyzOvQiU

— Cllr Elisa O'Donovan (@elisaodonovan) June 2, 2021

Earlier this year, the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act was commenced in Ireland, which makes "distributing, publishing, or sending threatening or grossly offensive communication" an offense.

A person who is guilty of an offense is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both, or on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

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