Australian Zane Alchin has plead guilty to making sexual threats and other derogatory comments at a woman he didn’t know via social media.

Alchin, according to the BBC, protested that he hadn’t been aware that he was drunk at the time, and unaware that making threats online was against the law. It’s a defense that’s unlikely to hold up given the increasing awareness of online harassment, particularly against women.

He’d previously plead not guilty, but changed his mind and entered a new plea on the first day of his trial. If handed the harshest sentence, he could face up to three years for the comments.

Alchin’s case revolves around his deliberate ‘trolling’ of “group of feminists that were harassing me and my friends,” the Beeb said. A friend of Alchin’s sent him a screenshot of Olivia Melville’s Tinder profile last year, to which he added his own comments and re-shared it on social channels.

For clarity in case there’s anyone reading this still in any doubt: making rape threats, other derogatory comments about feminists and saying that women shouldn’t have rights is never acceptable; being drunk, unaware or ignorant aren’t a defense. This isn’t a paragraph that we should still be having to write.

It’s the change of plea that’s taken Melville most by surprise, and could potentially speed up an otherwise more complex case – Australia’s laws governing this area are decades old and in desperate need of modernisation.

The campaign ‘Sexual Violence Won’t Be Silenced’ said it was “extremely pleased” that Alchin changed his plea.

This result demonstrates that there is a precedent in Australian law that says this behaviour is unacceptable. It means that harassing women online is not only legally reprehensible, but socially and morally as well. Our victory today sends a message to all women that they don’t have to put up with harassment online; that there are steps and channels they can take, and that Australian law is on their side. – Sexual Violence Won’t  Be Silenced.

Alchin is due top be sentenced at the end of July.

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