New bill could curb revenge porn
THE Film and Publications Board is confident victims of revenge porn will soon be able to seek recourse for leaked images and videos.
The board’s assistant communications manager, Manala Botolo, said the Films and Publications Amendment Bill was sitting before the National Council of Provinces and would address topics such as revenge pornography in the online space. It would also attempt to address the gap by criminalising revenge porn.
“Once the bill is passed, it will give victims the opportunity to approach the board to seek recourse,” said Botolo.
Revenge porn is whereby revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person is posted on the internet.
This is typically done by a former sexual partner without the consent of the subject to cause them distress or embarrassment.
The most recent case of alleged revenge porn was when a former Lotus FM radio presenter’s explicit videos of herself were alleged to have been distributed by an ex-colleague.
Botolo said while there is no act prohibiting individuals from making sexually explicit videos of themselves, the online space was never safe from hackers.
“We encourage citizens to be cyber safe and aware of their digital footprint. It is a criminal offence for any individual to share content of a sexual nature without the consent of the person depicted in the material, as it is a clear infringement of their privacy.
“Individuals who are caught distributing such content, may be charged with crimen injuria.”
A Phoenix-based attorney, who has worked on two revenge-porn cases over the past year, said the attacks – aimed at embarrassing a target – had serious implications.
Family units could be ruined or the victim could resort to serious measures to harm himself or herself.
“There is unlimited access to social media. Almost everyone has a smartphone nowadays and from previous cases, I have noticed the younger generation does it to become more popular,” said Rashika Gree Raj.
“We are definitely moving away from the traditional and conservative upbringing,” she said, adding the attacks were often calculated.
In the first case in Phoenix, she said a male client, aged 17, had received an explicit video from his girlfriend, who was a year younger than him.
After they broke up, the girl released the video on social media and claimed the boy had done so to defame her.
“His family contacted me and investigations revealed that she had leaked the video. She did this deliberately.”
Gree Raj said if the girl was over 18, she could have faced criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.
The second incident, she said, involved a lesbian couple from Reservoir Hills.
Gree Raj said her client, aged 28, had sent a picture of herself to her partner, 26, while they were in a relationship. After they broke up, the ex leaked the photograph to the woman’s family.
“We instituted action by issuing a letter of demand and summons for defamation of character and after negotiations, the client accepted a settlement.”
Social media expert Timothy Padayachee said those who uploaded and shared videos could find themselves in hot water.
“There’s a reason why we say think before posting or sharing anything online. The victim can open a civil case against the person, who uploads the video or image on social media and can also charge those who share it.
“Social media law has increased its stance against the sharing of intimate images without a person’s knowledge, and while people have been getting into trouble, it seems the majority don’t seem to learn and continue to share things irresponsibly.”
Padayachee said while some believed that if they shared and deleted the post, they were safe, “they are wrong”.
“Everything leaves a footprint. Police can contact Facebook locally and get information from their server, which saves everything. Sharing or posting these things falls under cyber crime and it’s as serious as white collar crime charges.
“People don’t realise how badly they messed up until they are sitting in court,” Padayachee said.