Revenge pornography: A victim’s dilemma

Revenge pornography in Zimbabwe: A victim’s dilemma


The allegations are that a young woman committed suicide after her boyfriend posted indiscreet videos of her on the internet.

Whether the story is true or not is not as relevant as the issues it raised.

What does the law say about pornography and even more so revenge pornography?

Is there any recourse for victims given that pornography at whatever level is illegal in Zimbabwe?

Revenge pornography, also called non-consensual pornography, is the unauthorised sharing and distribution of sexual images of another person without their consent.

It is often committed by ex-lovers to spite, hurt and humiliate their victim and maximise shame.

In extreme cases, the graphic images are sent to the victim’s family and friends and in the worst cases may be upload them onto porn websites where they give their contact details in order to maximise the nuisance and damage

The law

Zimbabwe Section 13 of the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act states that the importation, printing, publishing, manufacturing, displaying, selling, offering, keeping for sale any publication, picture or record or playing pornographic material in public is prohibited.

Of importance for these present purposes are the aspects of manufacturing and distribution.

Sadly, in Zimbabwe a victim of revenge porn is also an accomplice to the crime.

Consenting to make a sex tape and participating in the film is illegal and is not about consent in Zimbabwe.

Manufacturing any pornographic content is a crime even if it is consensual.

A victim, who endures the shame and humiliation of revenge porn is not exonerated of the crime merely on the basis that they were violated by the non-consensual sharing of the content.

If the State decides to prosecute the case, all the manufacturers of the pornographic text will be liable in terms of section 13.

In some countries with advanced information technology legislation, revenge pornography has been isolated and criminalised.

Zimbabwe has no stand-alone revenge pornography laws, but victims can get recourse through other delictual claims and sue for damages incurred such as humiliation, pain and suffering.

Censorship Board

The Censorship and Entertainments Control Act (Chapter 10.04) is relevant because it oversees the quality of content to ensure it remains within the bounds of decency.

It is a criminal offence to import, distribute and publish films or material that is not approved by the Censorship Board.

The board has the power to examine publications, books, pictures, films or songs and generally to decide what is or what is not suitable or decent enough for public consumption.

Officially banned content is published by notice in the Government Gazette.

The board considers objections to its decisions.

It plays an advisory role to the Home Affairs ministry on the propriety and decency of public entertainment and publications meant for public consumption.

The minister may override the board and set aside or vary its decisions.

Issuance of entertainment licences

The board issues entertainment licences.

No person is allowed to perform or permit public entertainment acts unless such acts have been approved by the board.

The board shall not approve any public entertainment which in its opinion is contrary to good morals and public decency.

However, the board sometimes allows the performance of questionably raunchy public entertainment acts.

Licences can be withdrawn for breach of the licence terms of issuance.

Exemptions, certificates and licences can be revoked at any time at the board’s discretion.

The board considers objections from applicants and members of the public over any of its decisions.

Possession of prohibited content

The Act prohibits people from keeping “without lawful reason” publications, pictures or recorded material that are indecent or obscene.

A great number of people, especially men, keep loads of pornographic material on their phones.

Some people’s phones, particularly their media galleries, could send them straight to the gallows.

The mere possession of pornographic content is a crime.

Manufacturing, possession and distribution of pornographic content are very serious crimes for which perpetrators can be arrested.

Employers lose out in time wastage, as employees with unrestricted internet access work fewer hours as a result of surfing the internet looking for porn sites.

People have lost jobs and families and entire careers gone down the drain over a few pictures carelessly left on a computer’s desktop or on a shared computer.

In some companies the penalty for viewing pornographic content is instant dismissal.

Definition of indecent and obscene

A thing or act is deemed as indecent if it has the tendency to deprave or corrupt the minds of persons who are likely to be exposed to it or to be influenced in any way.

The Censorship Board’s approval is required if entertainment generally causes public outrage or is repugnant to persons who are likely to experience it.

This applies to images or films depicting horror, cruelty or violence.

Other than morality issues, the board also restricts publications and entertainment likely to be contrary to the interests of defence, public order and security and the economic interests of the State.

Help for the victim

The first thing to do is to immediately flag and report the abuse to the host site.

These days, everything is taking place on social media sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter etc.

Wars are being fought and babies born on social media with up to the minute largely unnecessary details being given.

Victims will have to describe the details of the abuse.

Most decent sites usually pull the offending media down and close or suspend the abusers’ account.

The victim should make a police report and be prepared to also take some responsibility for the manufacturer of the pornographic media.

However, this should not deter them from seeking justice for themselves.

The penalty in such a case would be much less than for the revenge porn.

Despite whatever shame they may feel the victim should seek compensation and civil damages from the abuser

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Towson Woman Fighting Back After She’s Exposed Through Revenge Porn

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — It’s called revenge porn, and it’s a growing problem, impacting thousands of lives. Couples trust each other with intimate photos, then become victims of the digital age.

A Towson woman tells Linh Bui how she’s fighting back after she’s exposed.

Annmarie Chiarini is a respected English professor, a single mother of two and a victim of revenge porn.

It’s a growing problem on the Internet, where former lovers get revenge by posting their ex’s racy photos that were supposed to be for their eyes only.

Annmarie’s problems start when she goes on Facebook and reconnects with a former boyfriend after almost 20 years.

“I was shocked and thrilled and it’s that whole, ‘Oh my gosh!’” she said.

Thinking he’s the one, Annmarie even lets him take explicit naked photos of her. But then, he starts to change.

“He was getting more and more manipulative and even more controlling,” she said. “He had threatened to sell the pictures that I had allowed him to take. He said, ‘I will destroy you’ and hung up the phone.”

With just a few clicks, he inflicts maximum damage, targeting her family, friends, students and bosses with links to her racy photos.

Reporter: “When you first saw that email and you saw that these pictures of you were out there for everyone to see, what was your reaction?”

Annmarie: “I had lost control. Somebody else was in the driver’s seat of my life and I was at his mercy. I realized this is my life and this is never going to end.”

Annmarie isn’t alone. Other victims have joined forces to make revenge porn a crime.

WJZ investigates, learning more than 1,200 victims have contacted the cyber civil rights initiative in the last six months and more than 45 websites are devoted exclusively to revenge porn.

“It’s either every day or twice a day victims get in touch with me,” said Prof. Danielle Citron, University of Maryland Carey School of Law.

Citron is an expert on revenge porn.

“It is creating so much social harm for victims, for society, for the kinds of expectations we have of each other. We can no longer trust one another,” she said.

Feeling betrayed and humiliated, Annmarie takes a handful of prescription pills to end her life.

“I questioned my ability to be a role model to my children,” Annmarie said. “I didn’t want to embarrass them, I didn’t want them to go through school saying, ‘Oh, your mom’s the one who’s naked on the Internet.’”

“I somehow needed to make sure that nobody else felt this way, that nobody else hit this low,” she continued.

When Annmarie finds out there are no laws to punish her ex-boyfriend, she comes to Annapolis and teams up with Delegate Jon Cardin to make revenge porn a crime.

“At the click of a mouse you can ruin somebody’s reputation, you can ruin their life, you can cause them significant psychological anguish,” Del. Cardin said. “We want people to think twice before clicking the mouse.”

“Until the law in Maryland is passed I won’t truly know peace,” Annmarie said.

Under Cardin’s proposal, posting sexually explicit material of someone without their consent would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Towson Woman Fighting Back After She’s Exposed Through ‘Revenge Porn’ – CBS Local
Towson Woman Fighting Back After She’s Exposed Through ‘Revenge Porn’
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