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Relationship Matters: Revenge Pornography


It’s 11 a.m. on a Monday morning. You forgot your phone in one of the crevices of your bag. You had earlier left it on silence mode to ensure you do not disrupt the meeting that morning. When finally you remember you have one and may possibly have missed a number of calls, you lazily deep your hand in the bag.

After about three changes in hand positions, you eventually find it. It’s one of the newest brands in the market. You absent-mindedly draw the pattern that unlocks the phone. You get a ‘sorry, try again’ message.

You carefully draw the right one. Right there on your screen is a carefully lettered – 56 missed calls. You are genuinely surprised. You notice another 22 text messages. You start by checking the messages and everyone of them seem to be hinting at something online you should react to or should have seen.

Five minutes after checking your messages and timeline on Facebook, you find it all there – different pictures and a three-minute video of you in nude form.

You remember the pictures; they were the ones your ex-boyfriend took of you some years ago. You recall making the video yourself. You quickly squeeze the buttons of your phone and type the uniform resource locator of one of the leading entertainment blogs in the country in the address bar and you find the news there.

You check the comment section and there are already 1,004 comments at that time of the day. Your eyes are wet and you know life would never be the same again for you.

Revenge pornography, also called e-venge pornography, is fast trending as one of the quickest ways of getting a good pound of the flesh from a wronged lover. It entails online circulation of sexually explicit materials – videos, pictures or text – of a clearly mentioned or pictured individual with humiliation of the person as the goal of the distributor.

With revenge pornography, the culprit is usually a wronged lover or a hacker. The later happens in rare instances.

Unlike other anonymous pornographic materials online, revenge pornography makes the face of the act clear and ensures the name is also known. In some extremely harsh instances, the mobile contact, work details and home address of the pictured person are made available.

It first became more pronounced about three years ago. As is usually the case, the pictures or videos are captured by the victims themselves or by the assailant with the consent of the victim when there was a warm relationship between both.

Since revenge pornography always has women as victims most times, it can also be right to describe it as sexual violence against women with the sole aim to embarrass, humiliate and degrade a woman sexually, if she is career driven, she may be disgraced professionally.

The international legal firmament is already witnessing various fireworks to address the weak presence or outright absence of legislation around this. Some of the anti-revenge porn legislations are hoping in addition to criminalising revenge porn also target service providers whenever the actions of their users are misguided.

About two years ago, circumstance would bring a lady across my path. She was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She craved my intervention since I had faint knowledge of her may-soon-be assailant.

She had been in a relationship with him for years and they had seen it all including a number of abortions. When things circumstantially went sour between both of them, he threatened to make public her nude pictures in his possession.

He threatened to do so offline and online. The pictures were her gift to him on his birthday in one of the years they were together. They were taken privately while the romance lasted. Together with her, we went back and forth on possible solutions and remedies. I was to later introduce her to a social worker who had competence in such genre of sexual abuse.

She threw her expertise at the issue and in weeks, it was laid to rest. At least till this moment. The internet would continue to grow. More smart phones would be added by the day making access to the internet instant and easy.

People would continue to fall in love. Humans would also continue to fall out of love and have heart breaks. Certainly, break ups can be bitter and painful. The memories shared together are what could become the tool in the case of retribution pornography.

And it has ruinous implications for the life of the victim. Asides the misdemeanour of the perpetrator, phones or digital storage devices with possible revenge pornography content may be misplaced ending up in the wrong hands.

Once it is online, you can never take it back. In the Web 2.0 age, it is clear that it is the law that has to continue trying to catch up with the loads of daily inventions in cyber space.

With revenge pornography, the pictures may also be published for the purpose of blackmail by jilted men. Since most victims never bother to seek redress through legal means especially, it may continue to be perceived as an issue not worthy of major attention.

Young people who engage in the act are also vulnerable. Sexting refers to the act of sending lewd images and words through text messages. With the internet, we all need to understand that once anything is sent, the chances of losing control over what happens to that content is huge.

With non-consensual pornography which intentionally inflicts emotional distress becoming a growing burden, it is up to people to protect themselves in addition to only engaging in relationships built on trust and a sizeable amount of caution.

Our offline well-being is now intricately linked to the lives we lead when we access the internet. The rule is simple – never send anything to anyone that may be used against you and never allow anyone take pictures or videos of you in private acts or intimate moments.

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