A new law in Manitoba aims to help stop the non-consensual distribution of sexual imagery and empower victims to sue perpetrators for financial compensation, Manitoba Attorney General Gord Mackintosh says.

The Intimate Image Protection Act, which came into effect Monday, applies to any victim who can be identified in a photo or video, who appears nude or engaged in sexual activity, taken with the reasonable expectation of privacy, said the province.

The law also includes victims of revenge pornography, in which intimate images are shared online without permission after a break-up.

"The impact is instant. It's psychologically devastating, and it can reach huge numbers. That's why it's critical that the laws catch up to this technology," said Mackintosh.

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A new law in effect Monday will help victims of revenge pornography sue perpetrators for financial compensation, says Manitoba Attorney General and Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh. (CBC/Erin Brohman)

At a news conference Monday, the mother of a child pornography victim said her daughter has faced relentless bullying by peers since revealing photos of her appeared online. CBC is prevented from publishing the identity of the mother to comply with a court order.

"A bad experience in youth should not follow her and haunt her, but it does," said the mother.

"She's my baby girl. I would not wish this reality on any child or any parent."

Under the new legislation, Manitobans will be able to sue perpetrators in civil court if they share or if they threaten to share intimate images without consent. 

The province is also investing $175,000 in the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P), which assists families in removing and deleting unwanted sexual images from social media and websites, said Mackintosh.

C3P has received nearly 350 reports of non-consensual distribution of intimate images in Canada since March 2015, said the province. Half of the victims were children age 15 to 17.

Sgt. Stephen Rear of the RCMP internet child exploitation unit said the legislation will give police "another set of tools" in how they deal with complaints regarding online content.

"We get the complaint sometimes and sometimes the families and the victims just want to get the images removed, and they don't want to go through the whole court process because it can be very traumatic," he said.

"This way we can work with CyberTip — they have a better connection with the industry, the internet service providers. They can contact them and get the images removed. We can do the same thing, but sometimes it takes us a little bit longer."

Rear added that the legislation lets police "work on the criminal part of it, so we can go after the offenders that are targeting victims anywhere in the world."

Manitoba is the first province in Canada to enact legislation addressing revenge porn and the non-consensual distribution of sexual imagery and video, Mackintosh said.