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Upskirt view of a go-go dancer
Upskirt view of a girl in a sailor outfit

Voyeurism is a practice in which an individual derives sexual pleasure from observing other people. Such people may be engaged in sexual acts, or be nude or in underwear, or dressed in whatever other way the "voyeur" finds appealing.

Voyeuristic practices may take a number of forms but its characteristic feature is that the voyeur does not directly interact with the object of their voyeurism (often unaware that they are being observed), instead observing the act from a distance, peeping through an opening, and/or using techniques like binoculars, a mirror, camera (including camera phone and video camera), etc., and this stimulus becomes part of a masturbation fantasy during or after the observation.

Some voyeurs derive sexual pleasure from looking up skirts, known as an upskirt, especially if the panties or the gusset of the tights can be glimpsed. This can be accomplished by camera or simply by a chance viewing when a person sits down. If someone is sitting opposite you across an aisle, for example on a train, and does not keep her knees together, an extended upskirt view may be possible. An opportunity may also be provided by someone walking upstairs.

There may be a similar sensation from seeing a bottom in tight leggings under the hem of a jacket that is just covering the bottom, especially if the leggings are somewhat see-through so that the panties can be seen.

Some voyeurs also derive pleasure by looking down shirts and viewing breasts, particularly when a person is bending over. This is commonly referred to as a downblouse.

When done openly it may or may not be appreciated, depending on the other person(s) being exhibitionistic.

Non-consensual voyeurism is an invasion of privacy.

Voyeurism is considered a deviant sexual act and even a sex crime in most cultures, is most frequently practiced by males, and is tolerated to some degree in certain societies depending upon the circumstances (e.g., adolescent "Peeping Toms"). Sites such as http://www.Privatevoyeur.com and http://www.voyeurweb.com depict voyeurism as it is used and condoned in some societies.

In the United Kingdom, non-consensual voyeurism became a criminal offence on May 01, 2004, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Some organizations and places have started to ban camera phones because of the privacy issues they raise, and to combat voyeurism, e.g. several gyms in the United States. One country, Saudi Arabia, has banned the sale of camera phones nationwide (although pilgrims on the hajj are allowed to bring in camera phones). Another, South Korea, requires that all camera phones sold in the country make a clearly audible sound whenever a picture is taken, and there has been outrage at how "spycams" have become popular there, to the point that toilets are regularly inspected for them.

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