It has dawned on me that we can’t spend a day without someone releasing a sex tape. Almost every morning on Facebook there’s someone asking if you’ve seen the video and another person offering to send it to your inbox.
Filming that takes place behind closed doors may be a personal choice since we have different views and opinions about sex and sexual preferences. I don’t judge your personal choices trust me, I am anything but perfect. My issue is on consent. Do people consent before recording the video? Do they actually know that someone is recording them? What are the circumstances leading to distribution of a video that was shot with the consent of the people engaged in the sexual act?
People always say why did one consent to recording a video in the first place. What of those who did not consent to the recording? What of those who did not consent to publicity of the tapes? After circulation of sex tapes some have lost their jobs, scholarships, opportunities as well as relationships with family, church and friends. Others have even committed suicide.
Allegedly, in most cases these also turn out to be cases of revenge porn. Revenge porn, according to The draft Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill of Zimbabwe, is the revealing of sexually explicit images or videos of a person by posting on the Internet, typically by a former sexual partner, without the consent of the subject and in order to cause them distress or embarrassment. Simply put, revenge porn is the sharing of private sexual materials with intent to cause distress.
In the paragraphs to follow I intend to shed light on those that have been a victim of revenge porn directly or indirectly and are wondering what they can do to seek redress.
So what does the Zimbabwean Law say about this?
Zimbabwe legal framework on revenge porn and cyber-bullying
The current legal framework lacks protection of victims of revenge porn or cyber-bullying. The relief available for victims remains of a civil nature where one can claim damages for defamation of character, pain and suffering and loss of income for a ruined reputation etc. As such the lack of a criminal resort still costs the victim in civil suit costs. Be that as it may, there is hope as there is a cyber crime and cyber security legal framework being tabled before Parliament. The 2017 Bill is very comprehensive provides for cyber-related offences with due regard to the Declaration of Rights under the Constitution. Of particular interest is sections 16 and 19. Section 16 provides that cyber-bullying and harassment are offences and the perpetrators of such offences are liable to a fine or imprisonment. Section 19 goes further to address situations where there has been transmission of intimate material without consent. Both these offences have become very common in this digital age. Despite the Bill having other shortfalls and succumbing to criticism by human rights activists on its infringement on freedom of expression, it is a step in the rights direction for victims of revenge porn and cyber bullying.
Thus it can be noted that revenge porn is still a sticky issue and currently no law or legislation has been enacted that address such crimes.
The two authors discourage sharing of explicit/nude pictures or videos of yourself, sexual partner or anyone as one may never know where these might end up. The article was written by Tadiwanashe Burukai and Ruwadzano Makumbe, advocates for human rights.