Namibia: Man Arrested Over 'Revenge Porn'

14 September 2020

A MAN at Ondangwa was arrested on Saturday on charges of defamation of character after he allegedly circulated a video of his ex-partner performing an intimate act on social media.

Oshana police spokesperson Thomas Aiyambo yesterday said the suspect is charged with defamation of character read together with the Communications Act of 2009. Aiyambo said he does not know the suspect's age.

Speaking to The Namibian on condition of anonymity over the weekend, the woman involved in the video recording said she was disappointed at the police for allowing the situation to spiral out of control.

She said the intimate video was recorded four years ago when she was involved in a brief relationship with the suspect

"I had just been separated from my husband and, overwhelmed by emotions, I made a bad choice [getting involved with suspect] on the spur of the moment and it has since caused me so much pain," she said.

She said after their relationship ended, the suspect continued to call her and would every now and again call her using different numbers despite attempts to block him. Early this year, he threatened to destroy her life and dignity, she claimed.

The Namibian was shown a thread of text messages sent to the woman's phone, including a message in which a demand was made that she should pay N$15 000 to avoid having the explicit video distributed.

Although the suspect has now been arrested, the woman said she was convinced her reputation had already been tainted.

"I have sleepless nights. My tormentor is always on social media insulting me, there is so much animosity from him and I don't understand, I was inebriated, I made a poor judgement call and I accept my mistakes," she said, adding that she did not understand why social media users were circulating the video further.

She added that earlier this year she opened a police case against her ex-husband when the threats first began. She believed if the police had taken her seriously when she first opened a case, the situation would have not escalated to this extent, she said.

A human rights organisation, Monica Gender Violence Solution, came to the aid of the woman and laid charges on her behalf. The organisation says it will also be assisting her in the legal process that is to follow.

Shaanika Nashilongo, an activist at the organisation, commented that circulating such personal material on social media is humiliating, and said his organisation was ready to not only take action against the suspect but also people who have shared the content further on social media.

In an article posted on the Oxford Human Rights Hub, 'Addressing 'Revenge Porn' in Namibia', lawyer Ndjodi Ndeunyema in 2015 noted that much of the debate generated from exposing 'revenge porn' has focused on the claimed immorality and shamefulness of consensually producing such material.

'Revenge porn' is extremely humiliating, potentially causing great emotional distress, anxiety and disturbance to the victim's psychological well-being and also adversely affecting their professional lives, Ndeunyema noted.

"Immense social stigma and ostracism flow from this, especially in Namibia where entrenched religious and cultural values strongly condemn the practice. There is therefore a need to turn to the law in order to affirm the dignity of victims," he wrote.

"What can be done? Criminalisation of non-consensual pornography is frequently proposed, especially as a deterrent. Some countries have introduced criminal laws to this effect. Although criminalising may prove effective in some instances, it is unlikely to address the consequences of the non-consensual distribution as it leaves the material out in the public, thereby continuing to violate the victim's dignity," Ndeunyema also stated.

The suspect is expected to appear in the Ondangwa Magistrate's Court court today or tomorrow.

*This story has been amended to clarify that the suspect and the complainant were in a relationship and not married.

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