The Politics of Revenge Porn In Ghanaian Society

Originally posted on Di wo Fie Asem

Screenshot_2015-04-06-23-55-35-1Revenge porn is the deliberate posting of a person’s nude, sexualized, and intimate images on the internet without their consent. Similar to revenge porn, gendered crimes that hurt women are much more likely to elicit victim blaming responses. Victim blaming is a phenomenon where the focus is shifted from the perpetrator of a crime or moral ill, onto the victim as a way to rationalize the occurrence of the specific crime. For example, rarely would anyone question why a person deposits their money in a bank account when bank fraud occurs. Because in the context of theft crimes, we are rational and objective in assessing that the onus is on the thief not to steal. Surprisingly this attitude disappears when it comes to crimes that generally occur against women. Whether it is domestic violence, rape, or revenge porn (leaking the naked pictures of persons online, without their consent, to humiliate and embarrass them), our first instinct is to blame the victims. For domestic violence rather than inquiring why abusers abuse, we inquire why victims suffer the abuse. For rape, we inspect a victim’s sexual history, their outfits, their attitudes and fail to demand that rapists do not rape. A similar attitude occurs when a person makes a conscious effort to to betray the trust of another and intentionally post naked images of them online to humiliate them, and ruin their reputation. Unfortunately such attitudes are terrible for our society for the following reasons. First, we provide a shield for abusers when we trivialize their intentional humiliation and degradation by focusing on the actions of the victim. Second, we reinforce sexist sexually repressive attitudes that seek to shame, destroy reputations, and dehumanize women and girls for having sex. Third, we subtly encourage distrust and resentment of men by telling women that it is women’s fault if men betray them. While there are no laws that directly address revenge porn in Ghana, the Domestic Violence Act has allowed for perpetrators to be prosecuted and jailed for the intentional abuse of partners by posting their intimate images online. Continue reading