10 July 2016

Feature: Distributing sex tapes is criminal!

Nana Oye LithurDo you know that distributing or possessing videos of minors engaged in sexual activities or their nude pictures on any of the social media platforms could earn you a jail term of 10 year right here in Ghana?

The Electronic Transaction Act 2008, Act 772, states explicitly that anyone who even possesses and publishes such images or videos of persons below the age of 18 years commits a crime punishable by law.

Sections1 36 (1) of the Act states that a person who intentionally publishes child pornography through a computer; produces or procures child pornography for the purpose of its publication through a computer system; or possesses child pornography in a computer system or on a computer or electronic record storage medium commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than five thousand penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years, or to both.

The Act defines “child pornography” to include any material that visually depicts a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; a person who appears to be a child engaged in sexu¬ally explicit conduct; images representing a child engaged in sexually ex¬plicit conduct; and unauthorised images of nude children.

The law further defines publishing of such materials to include: distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, lend for gain, exchange, barter, sell or offer for sale, let on hire or offer to let on hire, offer in any other way, or make available in any way.

With the advent of social media platforms, especially WhatsApp, sharing of such videos and pictures of minors engaged in sexual activities has become a common phenomenon for many users of the social media application in Ghana.

It is not clear what the motivation for circulating such videos are, but most social media platforms and groups have recently been inundated with very graphic videos of children engaged in sex acts.

Currently, two of such videos making the rounds on social media involve two minors – a boy and a girl – ostensibly siblings, engaged in a sexual act.

Another involves two boys engaged in a homosexual act.

The circulation of the videos has generated heated arguments on most social platforms, with many questioning the rationale behind the individuals who decide to film the acts when they chance on them.

Most people who circulate these videos on social media have argued that they do so as a form of informing parents to be vigilant and to keep a close eye on their children at home.

Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu explains that circulating such videos does not only violate the Children’s Act but also the United Nations Convention on the rights of children.

A parent who finds out that his/her child has been filmed in any sexual act and which is in circulation can file a complaint with the police.

Anyone in possession of the said video could be arrested, but the onus lies with the criminal prosecution to establish the intent of having the video.

Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu, however, proposed that the police must upgrade its technology to be able to determine the original source of such videos.

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