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Call for specific laws to fight revenge pornography

The world and Zimbabwe in particular is witnessing a tremendous rise in the use of smart phones and social media. While there are associated benefits attached to the use of such forms of technology, there are negative consequences such as the spread of revenge pornography which have spread due to this ease in accessing information. Hardly a day passes without the media publishing a story on revenge pornography or other related vices. Revenge pornography refers to the posting of revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person on the internet without their consent where people can share or download. It can also be referred to as non-consensual pornography, it has become prevalent in Zimbabwe too, especially on WhatsApp. Sadly, the country does not have specific cyber laws to deal with revenge pornography yet many have fallen victim to such scourge.

Activists view revenge pornography as a form of gender-based violence (GBV).In parts of the world where there’s a great emphasis on female chastity, it is often the victims who end up shouldering the blame and stigma associated with revenge porn. Some societies have gone further to chastise women for engaging in the acts which involve the recording of their intimate details. A 2016 research paper by the Malawi Human Rights Commission and the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre in Norway focused on the phenomenon in Malawi and Uganda and found that revenge porn is broadly seen as “a problem of user naiveté rather than GBV” and as such “women who are perceived as deviating from the norm, for example, by allowing themselves to be photographed naked, are derided and chastised in the court of public opinion for it.”

In Zimbabwe, cases of revenge pornography fall under anti-pornography or anti-obscenity laws. It has been held that the law does not adequately protect victims hence there are growing calls to have independent laws which deal with revenge pornography and its effects. The  Censorship and Entertainments Control Act in Section 13 provides 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.


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