Revenge Porn and Unfair Laws – Ugandan Women Caught in Between

Revenge Porn and Unfair Laws – Ugandan Women Caught in Between

In 2014 Uganda passed and Anti Pornography Act. Three years later anti pornography committee was put in place to enforce the Act, this committee hounds and hunts for women whose nudes have been published non-consensually, they investigate the women, they ask how the nudes got onto the internet, they chase after the victim while the perpetrator gets away scot-free.

Of all the one hundred and one problems Uganda has, including a huge national debt, unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure, poverty, poor healthcare, corruption, the committee was given 2 billion shillings which in my opinion is a misplaced priority. I wonder what they do besides policing women’s bodies because Ugandans can access pornographic sites even without the use of a VPN.

This money could be dedicated to ensuring that more women are connected to the internet, a tool women have found as a voice, where they speak truth to power, use to advance their careers, a great tool for information. But the patriarchy crawls into the internet – what is on the internet is a reflection of the society. There is spiteful misogyny, hurtful outright sexism that targets confident women especially that are vocal and show agency in order to silence them, this vice rubs off on other women that are online subduing some to self-censorship. It is ironical that the Computer Misuse Act, 2011 doesn’t apply when women’s privacy is violated, only applies when it affects those in power, to crackdown dissent- like the case of Stella Nyanzi.

There seems to be nowhere to turn, most of the time women find themselves caught in a rock of revenge porn and a hard place of laws that police their bodies. It is absurd that women’s bodies are even classified as porn, porn in most times is consensual, in this case when women’s nude photos are shared by ex- gilted lovers – a breach of trust and infringement on privacy.

Revenge porn has damaging effects, reputation is compromised, in a study conducted by Samantha Bates, “Revenge porn and mental health: A qualitative analysis of the mental health effects of revenge porn on female survivors” she writes;

“Along with the loss of trust, many participants experienced more severe and disruptive mental health effects, often being given official medical diagnoses of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Many participants also noticed a change in their self-esteem and confidence after they were victimized. Part of the reason that revenge porn had such a negative effect on participants’ self-esteem and confidence was the loss of control they experienced. The loss of control over one’s body was a particularly violating aspect of revenge porn, similar to sexual assault.”

When pictures have been shared online, Google, Facebook and other intermediaries when requested to take the photos down, sometimes comply because they have moved towards protecting women online.  For the victims, the glass seems shuttered, picking up the pieces seems like a hard task, as women that has a following online, breathe, come back with a bang, women’s bodies are is not a shameful thing that society has made them to be.

Civil society will have to wake up and fight, there is a long way to have laws that protect women online, to challenge laws like the Anti Pornography Act 2014 that police women’s bodies, I am all for a specific law on Violence Against Women online. This in my opinion will enhance justice for the victims of revenge porn.

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gathara

Listening to @RailaOdinga on @ntvkenya. He speaks as if we have had no experience with a hybrid system and as if that is not what we were running away from when we passed the 2010 constitution.