The current political climate, not just on these shores but also in democracies around the world, makes it difficult to see that politics can be a force for positive change.

At Westminster, inter-party drama and conflict have largely taken centre stage in place of progressive policy-making. In fact British politics is so fractious right now that it’s ugly and a huge turn-off for many. Brexit is largely to blame, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking it was all roses prior to June 2016.

Certainly, in Northern Ireland, as we all know only too well, the issues around leaving the European Union - while hugely significant and a complicating factor - are only a small part of the problem. Politics in the north is more polarised than ever and while Stormont remains deadlocked more than two years after its collapse, Northern Ireland continues to drift; all while the two main political parties play the blame game and shirk their responsibility.

In such turbulent times, it’s easy to forget that at its finest, politics can be engaging and fruitful. There are always politicians working, not out of self-interest but for the greater good. They can and do make society a better, fairer place and can make a positive difference to our lives. A clear example of politics working to protect women came on Friday 12 April, when ‘upskirting’ finally became a criminal offence, making it illegal to take an image or video under someone’s clothing without their consent.

Even writing that sentence explaining upskirting makes me wince. I mean, you would think it was pretty obvious to everyone that taking a photo underneath a woman’s clothing without her knowledge, to view her underwear or genitals or bottom, is wrong and a violation of privacy, but apparently that’s not the case.

A report in October 2018 carried out by British GQ magazine revealed that one in 10 men did not consider upskirting as sexual harassment. Meanwhile, figures published last week show that the number of upskirting incidents has doubled in a year with police in England and Wales recording 120 in 2018 compared to 56 in 2017. Some of the victims are girls as young as 10.

Of course, these are only the incidents that have been reported. When Gina Martin began her campaign to make upskirting illegal after she caught a man taking a picture up her skirt at a music festival in 2017, she was inundated with similar stories from other women.

At the time, when Ms Martin went to the police about the incident, which she described as “humiliating” and “intrusive”, she was shocked to hear that there was nothing they could do because it was not a specific offence.

“Knowing that someone had their hands between my legs taking pictures of my crotch without me knowing is a horrible feeling,” she said about the experience.

After two years of active campaigning, Ms Martin, who had no previous political or legal experience won a landmark decision for women by helping to change the law to reflect the times we are in.

And now that upskirting is a criminal offence in its own right in England and Wales, anyone caught taking such unwanted and humiliating pictures could face up to two years in prison and have their name added to the sex offenders’ register.

In Northern Ireland, a proposal to introduce a similar change in the law has been made by the Department of Justice. Sadly though, like so many legislative decisions, that cannot take place until an executive is up and running again at Stormont. I’m tired of writing it but it still needs to be said: This change in the law to protect women from a violating experience such as upskirting is yet another example of how a lack of a functioning government is failing women in Northern Ireland.

It shouldn’t matter whether you’re a young girl or a woman from Belfast or Bristol, Fermanagh or Liverpool; our bodies are not public property. Until that message is received and understood, I’m thankful we have people like Ms Martin and the politicians who took her case seriously enough to make sure we have legislation to protect women from such an intrusive and degrading act.