Law ignores naked truth about revenge porn, MPs told

31 August 2016 - 09:16 By DENEESHA PILLAY and BIANCA CAPAZORIO

South African law treats victims of revenge porn as the criminals.

This is according to social media lawyer Emma Sadleir, who briefed parliament's portfolio committee on communications on the phenomenon of revenge porn and urged the committee to expand some of the definitions in the clauses of the Films and Publications Amendment Bill that deal with revenge porn.

Revenge porn is the publishing of sexually explicit images of people without their consent.

Sadleir said an "epidemic of sexting" had evolved through unlimited access to international social media. "As soon as you have a phone, you have access to these platforms and what we see now is that victims are over-documenting.

"It has become a social norm for teenagers to send pictures of themselves naked to one another."

But the Johannesburg media law consultant added that vulnerability of the victims of revenge porn also stemmed from individuals being hacked, phones and devices being stolen and "honest mistakes".

Referring to a mother who recently mistakenly sent a risque image, intended for her husband, to 17 people in a school hockey Whats-App group, Sadleir said there should be no age limit for victims to make criminal complaints.

The bill recognises revenge porn but is limited in that it states that it is done with the "intention to cause distress".

Sadlier cited a recent case in which a Playboy playmate photographed a woman undressing in a gym to "fat-shame" her, as an example that could also be considered revenge porn in the broader definition.

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