FPB comes down hard on revenge porn

Read time 3min 10sec
Distributing "private sexual photographs and films" is prohibited if the person posting does not have the consent of the individual appearing in the photograph or film, says the FPB.
Distributing "private sexual photographs and films" is prohibited if the person posting does not have the consent of the individual appearing in the photograph or film, says the FPB.

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) is set to come down hard on perpetrators of revenge porn.

Revenge porn is sexually explicit images or video that is distributed without the consent of the subject. The making of sexually explicit images or video may be made by a partner of an intimate relationship with the knowledge and consent of the subject, or it may be made without their knowledge.

The possession of the material may be used by the partner to blackmail the subject into performing other sex acts, or to intimidate them from breaking off the relationship.

According to a new law governing the FPB, distributing "private sexual photographs and films" is prohibited if the person posting does not have the consent of the individual appearing in the photograph or film and with the intention of causing distress.

Currently, victims of revenge porn in SA can only lay charges against the perpetrator under the Protection from Harassment Act.

The Films and Publications Amendment Bill, which has been introduced to Parliament by communications minister Faith Muthambi, will only allow former partners to post private sexual photographs and films if they reasonably believe their disclosure is necessary for preventing, detecting or investigating crime.

According to the legislation, the penalty for distributing private sexual photographs and films on the Internet and social media without prior consent of the individual featured, and with the intention to cause harm, will be a fine not exceeding R150 000 or imprisonment of not more than two years or both.

"No person may expose, through any electronic medium including the Internet and social networking sites, a private sexual photograph or film if the disclosure is made - without the consent of an individual who appears in the photograph or film; and with the intention of causing that individual distress," the Bill reads.

"It is for the defence - for a person charged with an offence under this section - to prove that he or she reasonably believed that the disclosure was necessary for the purposes of preventing, detecting or investigating crime," it adds.

The majority of revenge porn victims are women. In SA, a former pupil of Jules High School, Christina Fokona, 19, committed suicide after a sex tape of her went viral on social media. She was reportedly haunted by a leaked tape, where she and two boys were having sex on their school grounds in 2010 when she was 15 and the boys were 14 and 16 respectively.

In the US, most states have revenge porn laws in order to protect the victims from further humiliation. The UK has also implemented revenge porn laws, with offenders getting sentences of up to two years in prison. Eight police forces in England and Wales said they had received 149 allegations of revenge porn, though due to legal prosecution loopholes, less than 5% of cases had seen prosecutions.

Social media site Twitter earlier this year banned revenge porn, with explicit rules that ban the posting of naked photographs and videos without the permission of the person in the photograph or video.

"You may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent," Twitter said in updated rules.

In October, Facebook said it is backing the criminalisation of revenge porn, but has yet to take a public position on broader draft legislation.

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