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#Legislation

Revenge porn laws in Zimbabwe: Parliament considers petition

   

Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will this week be considering a petition to bar “revenge pornography”. 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.

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that the issue of revenge porn laws has been under parliamentary consideration in Zimbabwe. The need has been spurred by the rise in smartphone ownership and use of WhatsApp, thanks to the gradually decreasing cost of access. More access means even the bad stuff spreads as fast as the useful stuff. A number of local celebrities have fallen victim to revenge porn over the past few years.

The anti-revenge porn petition was initiated by an NGO called Katswe Sisterhood.

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Other countries and how technology companies are helping

Globally, some countries now have Revenge Porn laws including, Philippines, the UK, the US (some states), Australia, Canada and others. In Africa though, seems 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 (Telecoms act in Zim), or anti-extortion laws.

 

For their part companies gatekeeping the internet like Google and Facebook have made significant efforts to reduce the spread of the revenge porn. Google for example announced less than a year ago that it’d honor requests to remove explicit images shared without their consent from its search results. Facebook also allows anyone to flag offensive content for deletion and last year made a revenge porn specific ban.

WhatsApp however, the platform where revenge porn spreads the fastest, seems a more difficult platform, even for its owners, to police. Users can share links, explicit images and videos without any technology hindrance.

Back to the petition; the procedure after the consideration session is that the committee will report on it to parliament, after which a determination will be made to either draft a bill or reject the petition.


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