Have you been a Victim or Accused of Revenge Porn?

If you have had private intimate photos or videos shared with others without your consent, then you have been the victim of revenge porn.

The content gets used for sexual harassment, extortion, bullying and stalking. The extent of revenge porn in South Africa is unknown as the majority of cases go unreported.

We have found that in most cases, women share their nude images and videos with the person they’re in a relationship with, which then gets used against them when the relationship turns sour. These women then get threatened before releasing the images or video.

What is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn is the act of sharing private and usually sexual content without the consent of the person seen in the video or image. The intention of this conduct is to humiliate and threaten the victim. It is usually the action of a former partner or spouse. Revenge porn in divorce cases is an increasing issue in family law, which could be due to the fact that people are not aware of the serious consequences of this action.

Since the increased use of technology, sharing non-consensual intimate images or videos has increased and has now become a new form of Gender-Based Violence, with women being more susceptible than men.  The content gets used for sexual harassment, extortion, bullying and stalking. The extent of revenge porn in South Africa is unknown as the majority of cases go unreported.

We have found that in most cases, women share their nude images and videos with the person they’re in a relationship with, which then gets used against them when the relationship turns sour. These women then get threatened before releasing the images or videos

Why do People Engage in Revenge Porn?

There are many reasons that people engage in this type of activity, namely:

  1. To get vengeance during a difficult divorce.
  2. To extort another beforehand by demanding money, threatening to show the images to family or friends if demands are not met.
  3. To control someone or force them back into a relationship after separation.
  4. To shame or disturb another.
 

What Role Does Social Media Play in Revenge Porn?

Social media allows for the fast distribution of revenge porn, which makes it the most popular platform for sharing this content. Social media is the first source of revenge porn, which makes the threat more intimidating for the victim.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google have implemented steps to try and fight this very harmful act.

  • Facebook has a team of people to fight the non-consensual posting of inappropriate pictures and videos. They investigate almost half a million revenge porn reports to remove the content. Facebook also uses artificial intelligence to identify images.
  • Twitter modified its rules by saying that users may not post intimate pictures or videos without the other’s approval.
  • Google took a stand against revenge porn by committing to remove intimate pictures or videos from their search results.
 

What can you do if You are a Victim of Revenge Porn?

South Africa’s current criminal law allows a victim of revenge porn a charge of injuria, criminal defamation, or extortion. Civil remedies allow for defamation or an interdict based on an infringement of copyright in the case where the victim has taken the pictures or video themselves.

The Film and Publication Bill has defined Revenge Porn as, the sharing or distribution of any nude or sexually explicit material without permission or consent with the express purpose of humiliating the victim or making a profit. 

The Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPI) provides victims of revenge pornography the relief to initiate a civil claim for damages against a perpetrator. Section 99(1) of POPI expressly allows a victim the right to claim non-patrimonial damages against the responsible party. The accused can be charged with the intentional distribution of private sexual photographs or films without the prior consent of the individual and/or distributing the sexual photos and films to cause harm and emotional distress to the victim.

If the perpetrator is convicted of any of these charges, he/she can be sentenced to a maximum sentence of two years or a fine of up to R150 000.00. If the victim is identified by being named or the footage is not blurred, this sentence can increase to a maximum of four years in prison or a fine of up to R300 000.00.

The Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011 also allows a victim of revenge pornography to apply for a protection order, which in turn is paired with a suspended warrant of arrest in case the perpetrator continues with his/her actions.

Conclusion

Whether you have been the victim of revenge porn or you have been accused of committing this act, we at Van Heerdens Attorneys can assist you in protecting your rights. If you have a matter which you would like to discuss, we would like to hear from you.  Please contact us via telephone or email.  Alternatively, please feel free to schedule an appointment. 

Do you have a matter which you would like to discuss?

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