Women petition Parly over ‘revenge porn’

July 22 09:52 2016 Print This Article

HARARE – A women’s advocacy group, Katswe Sistahood (Katswe), has petitioned Parliament to criminalise revenge pornography as more images and videos of naked women in compromising positions emerge on the Internet and social media.

In a presentation to Parliament’s legal affairs portfolio committee, Katswe’s legal and advocacy officer Debra Mwase said revenge pornography was particularly harmful to women.

Revenge pornography, as it is commonly known, is the non-consensual sharing of explicit material with the intention of causing embarrassment or distress.

Mwase said it should be deemed criminal to distribute nude photographs and videos of someone without their consent.

“There is need to ensure that the law keeps up with changes that are happening in the society.

Given the rate of the proliferation of social media and Internet penetration, there is need for the legislature to start considering regulating this space and protect the privacy of women,” Mwase said.

She argued that victims of revenge pornography can sue for damages resulting from the defamatory nature of publication and circulation of pictures or videos.

Mwase also argued that though the Constitution guarantees the right to privacy, obsolete laws that were promulgated before social media sites hinder criminalising revenge pornography.

“The Censorship and Entertainment Act which covers various aspects of pornography was promulgated 49 years ago in 1967 and was last amended 15 years ago.

“Similarly, the Postal and Telecommunications Act … and the relevant section relating to sending obscene messages on the telephone (section 88) has never been amended,” she said.

Acting Prosecutor-General Ray Koba, however, told legislators that according to the law anyone partaking in filming and distribution of pornographic materials is liable to arrest and prosecution.

He said there is always an inherent risk that when you get naked with someone and take pictures or a recording, that material will be circulated.

Koba added that the situation with revenge pornography is that it does not favour one party over another.

“The challenge is proving evidence linking the product, be they pictures or a video, to the source.

“There is a need to identify the accused person based on a complaint by the complainant and it should be noted that in every crime committed there should be motive-whether to cause harm or because of excitement,” Koba said.

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