21 May 2018

Kenya: It's Now Illegal to Post Some Photos of Your Child Online

Photo: The Herald
Social media.

Posting a photo of your child's nappy rash or how cute they look during bath-time, on social media can land you in jail.

Popular groups, especially on Facebook, that focus on parenting and babies are rife with photos of ill children posted by concerned parents.

Children suffering from various skin conditions, burns and other injuries have their ailments described and displayed by their worried parents. Some look for sympathy, others advice on a possible diagnosis and remedy.

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

But now, parents need to think twice before posting such photos of their children online as it may be interpreted as child pornography

According to the Cybercrimes Act signed into law by the President Uhuru Kenyatta last week, anyone who shares child pornography via the internet will face a maximum fine of Sh20 million or a maximum jail term of 25 years, if found guilty in a court of law.

This law will apply to parents who share photos of their children's genitals or their naked bodies on social media.

The Constitution defines child pornography as any visual depiction involving the use of a minor, or one appearing to be a minor, engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Visual depictions include photographs, film, video, pictures or computer-generated images or pictures, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means.

A children's rights activists and children's lawyer both agree that photos of an infant's genitals on social media, no matter what the intention was, is a crime, violates that child's rights to privacy and is a form of child abuse.

Enricah Dulo, an advocate specialising in children's law, says that even though there is no sexual purpose to the photos of a child's diaper rash, as long the child's private parts are visible in the image and it is clear that it is a child's photo, then the parent seeking medical advice from netizens is guilty of a crime, violating the child's privacy.

"It may not fall under child pornography, but the children's act is clear. Depicting the images of a naked child is an obvious violation of their rights, particularly the right to protection against abuse," Ms Dulo said.

FAKE ACCOUNTS

She said that even using a pseudonym or a fake account on social media would not protect violators, if the Internet Protocol address can be traced then even one trying to remain anonymous will be found.

However, Anne Kioko a children's rights activist with a non-governmental organisation called CitizenGo, said depicting a child's private parts and posting that on social media is outright child pornography.

According to the Children Act of 2001, "Where any person wilfully or as a consequence of culpable negligence infringes any of the rights of a child as specified in sections 5 to 19 such person shall be liable upon summary conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding twelve months, or to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings or to both such imprisonment and fine."

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