Talent Jumo

Sistahood tackles revenge porn

acuzole tablets. Viola Mzungwana
WITH nowhere else to turn to and with the knowledge that police had limited powers to act against her perpetrator, a 22-year-old woman, walked into the offices of a Non Governmental OrganisationA� a��Katswe Sistahood a��A� to narrate her ordeal.

After discoveringA� her former partner had secretly captured images and a video of their intimate moments, Samantha decided to break up with him.

He threatened to splash the explicit material on social media platforms.

Faith (26)a��s worst nightmare was waking up to news that her parents, friends and workmates had received a video sent by her scorned boyfriend in a jealous rage after the affair went sour.

With dancehall music playing in the background, she is seen dancing nude while her then boyfriend encourages her and pretends to be talking on his phone, while in fact, he is filming her.

Suddenly she realises that he is filming and pleads with him to stop but he continues.

A few months after breaking up the video goes viral on WhatsApp.

These are just a few of the countless incidents told by women who fall victim to revenge pornography prompting Katswe Sistahood, an NGO based in Harare, but catering for the welfare of women across the country, to petition Parliament to come up with legislation that makes it illegal to post nude pictures or videos without the consent of the concerned party.

Talent Jumo (AB OVE), the director of Katswe Sistahood, explained that this was the first time that the issue of revenge porn laws had been under parliamentary consideration in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwea��s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs earlier this month considered a petition to bar a�?revenge pornographya�?.

Such a law would seek to protect people from having their nude photos or videos leaked (usually by an ex) on the internet or social media platforms like WhatsApp where such material easily goes viral.

Katswe has dealt with more than 20 cases in the last year.

It should, however, be noted that dozens of cases go unreported.

a�?While we celebrate the advancement in technology, there are some unscrupulous elements who abuse this technology to hurt women. It is violent men who will use any opportunity, any tool at their disposal to cause distress, degrade and humiliate women,a�? explained Joma.

If made into law, Katswe Sistahood hopes perpetrators of revenge porn would face the wrath of the law.

a�?Victims of revenge are left emotionally and psychologically scarred. We had another case where a young professional woman who was dating a workmate discovered that he was married and broke up with him. The man threatened to create a fake Facebook account and splash nude pictures of her all over social media. This cannot be allowed to continue,a�? she said.

a�?When all these cases were brought to our attention, we could not point to a specific law that prohibits the publication of sexually explicit material without the consent of the woman. Being naked is not a crime but the distribution of someonea��s images without their consent is the crime. Women are living in fear,a�? she said.

Parliament is debating the Cyber Crimes Bill and Katswe Sistahood is advocating for strong language on revenge porn and to ensure that it is a clear violation of onea��s right to privacy to post explicit content.

a�?There is acknowledgement that with technology comes new challenges. The law on revenge porn is necessary and long overdue. It will guarantee protection for both men and women,a�? she added.

Due to the relatively low costs of WhatsApp access, more material finds its way to smartphones.

Local celebrities have over the years fallen victim to revenge pornography.

Members of the public have not been spared with a number of nude pictures and sex videos especially targeting women surfacing on the internet and Whatsapp group chats.

Because almost every Whatsapp user is part of a group chat, nude pictures and sex videos spread to a wider audience very rapidly.

Countries such as the United Kingdom, Philippines, United States, Australia and Canada have enacted laws making it a crime to post nude photos or sex videos without the consent of the concerned individual.

In Africa ita��s a different story.

African countries are yet to specifically recognise revenge porn as a crime.

Prosecutors have to rely on laws prohibiting the broadcasting and distribution of regular pornography, anti-harassment laws, the use mobile phones to send harassing messages or anti a��extortion laws.

In Zimbabwe prosecutors depend heavily on the Telecoms Act to charge offenders.

*names changed to protect identity of victims.