Non-consensual dissemination of intimate images and unfair laws: Ugandan women caught in between

Non-consensual dissemination of intimate images is quickly becoming one of the major challenges that women in Uganda online have to overcome. The women that are targeted are women of influence  – musicians, models, journalists, bloggers and women with online influence.

Women in Uganda find themselves in a position where they have nowhere to turn; they are caught between a rock and a hard place, or between the reality of non-consensual circulation of intimate images (NCII) and the laws that police their bodies. NCII commonly refers to when women’s images have been shared non-consensually by jealous jilted lovers, and this should be treated as a breach of trust and infringement of privacy and not as pornography. It is in fact absurd that the laws have classified women’s bodies broadly as pornography. 

In 2014, Uganda passed an Anti-Pornography Act and a nine-member anti-pornography committee was instituted to enforce it. This Act was welcomed by religious and cultural leaders because its proponents said that it was to fight against child pornography and indecency. In this Act, pornography is defined as: “Any representation through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement.”  

So, in this case, women whose photos have been shared non-consensually end up being hunted by the police when their nude pictures were leaked to the internet. In July 2018, the Daily Monitor newspaper reported a 23-year-old university student was arrested, appeared before the court and was remanded to Luzira maximum security prison in Kampala. She was later released on bail.

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