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Opinions of Monday, 11 September 2017

Columnist: Prime News Ghana

Angry penises and vexed vaginas

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We should be able to count no less than eight leaked sex tapes since the beginning of this year, most of which were leaked by ex-lovers seeking revenge on their former lovers.

Revenge pornography is a phenomenon that has gradually crept into the dented fabric of our society, frustrated ex-lovers seeking to bitterly repay their former spouses take to publicizing materials, mostly private pictures and videos, in a bid to tarnish his or her image.

In most European countries, publishing sexually explicit materials through any medium without the consent of the person(s) involved is an offence considered criminal and could cost one fines or jail term.

Specifically, in the UK, the laws are very explicit in making Revenge Pornography illegal, as it’s carefully defined; “disclosing any private sexual photograph or video material without the consent of the person(s) depicted in the content and with the intent to cause them distress.

It should be understood that intimate materials created by lovers belong only to the parties involved, a sheer break up does not warrant any of the involved parties to deliberately publicize them with the intention of humiliating the other partner. One might have availed his/her consent in creating the said material but may not consent to sharing or making the materials public.

In other jurisdictions the defining scope of revenge pornography is even detailed, “an act whereby the perpetrators satisfies his/ her anger and frustration for a broken relationship through publicizing sexually provocative materials of his/her victims by misusing this information that may have been known naturally or may have stored in any retrievable form or may have been conveyed through any electronic medium”

The rampancy of revenge pornography lately is disturbing and calls for legislators to take pragmatic steps towards defining, making illegal and criminalizing revenge pornography to maintain sanity, protect public image, brand ambassadors and to avoid the likely stigmatization of family and friends of victims considering how stereotypical the Ghanaian society is.

In 2014, boyfriend of ace Ghanaian female rapper Itz Tiffany, for very weird reasons known only to himself, made public her private pictures and videos of the rapper. The action had damaging consequences on her reputation and brand image, leaving her psychologically traumatized.

In an interview with Hitz FM back in 2014 she confirmed her frustration saying, “when it happened, it hit me in a certain way that it made me not want to do music anymore. But when I took a month off, I realized that it (music) is that thing that makes me happy so I said instead of looking at it in a negative way, why not look at it in a positive way to redirect me to know what I should not shouldn’t do”

Another infamous private video that found its way into the public domain and came to be known as “Koforidua flowers” caused much uproar and victimization of the lady involved. In the end, according to heresy, the lady took her own life out of frustration.

Afia Schwar’s, is the latest of a deliberately publicized private materials, considering her reputation and social status, the infamous act will definitely have a toll on her career and psychological makeup. She is likely to lose her job and may face withdrawal of contract deals or even be hit with terminated sponsorship packages should the scandal catch wild fire than it currently has, as corporate institutions may want to protect their brand image.

It is not a pleasant experience to have one’s privacy made public because a former partner with an angry penis or an offended vagina decides to vent his or her frustration by making private photos or videos public.

The time is ripe for our legislators to properly define, render illegal and criminalize perpetrators of revenge pornography including sharers of such content.

It is equally expedient for Online Social Communities to also redefine their publication policies to prevent posting and sharing of social and culturally harmful content. The National Media Commission may have to re-tailor its laws to enforce laws that bars the sharing of such ill content via the media landscape in the best interest of the Ghanaian populace, especially as some bloggers take advantage of such scandal to direct traffic to their websites irrespective of the harm it causes.

In today’s technological world, information posted online is never lost. It is therefore important, for the sake of our social mores, to have clearly defined regulations to check materials that go online today, for the general safety of society tomorrow.

That notwithstanding, we as individuals have key roles to play in keeping our private properties protected.

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