revenge porn

Revenge porn public hearings to start next week

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Revenge porn, the act of publishing nude pictures of people online without their permission, is a growing problem in the modern digital age.

It’s already outlawed in countries like the US and Britain, and South Africa is also looking to criminalise the unauthorised publication of nude images through the proposed Film and Publications Amendment Bill.

A call was previously made for the public and interested parties to have their say about the Amendment Bill, and parliament has set aside a three-day period, starting on 30 August, for people to make submissions.

Some of the interested parties who will be stating their case include social media lawyer Emma Sadleir, Advocate Pierre Smith from National Prosecuting Authority, and Ryan Smit from Cause for Justice (CFJ).

“CFJ welcomes the proposed measures in respect of criminalising ‘revenge porn’, child pornography and depictions of sexual assault of children and prohibiting the exposure of children to adult content,” CFJ said in a blog post.

It did however, find a number of aspects a bit troubling.

Pornography, a specific form of adult content, violates the human dignity of its characters in that human beings are portrayed as objects (exploited) for purposes of sexual stimulation, without presenting characters truly as human beings, with value in and of themselves. The online distribution of this type of adult content should not be legalised.

Scientific research shows that there are serious harms associated with exposure to adult content, even soft-core forms, including harm to viewers (both adults and adolescents), harm to viewers’ intimate partners and family relationships and harms to vulnerable groups, e.g. women and children, who most often end up being victims of sexually violent crimes.

Dominic Cull from Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions will also be making public submissions. Previously, Cull explained what the Bill entails regarding ‘revenge porn’.

“The Bill proposes the insertion of a new section 18F into the Act to criminalise what is generally referred to as ‘revenge porn’,” he said.

“In essence this creates an offence where one person exposes a private sexual photograph or film through electronic media if this is done without the consent of a person appearing in the film or photograph and with the intention of causing distress to that person.”

The recent incident of Margaret van Wyk is no doubt also going to be a talking point.

Van Wyk was earlier this week thrust into the public limelight as she accidentally shared a very compromising image in a closed WhatsApp group. Needless to say, someone in the group screenshot the conversation (together with the compromising images) and distributed it widely online.

This could be classified as revenge porn, as van Wyk did not give members of the closed group the permission to share the image.

At worst, van Wyk could sue the participants of the group for cyberbullying.

[Image – CC by 2.0/peterm2000]

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