Luzinda Photos – Blame the Man [opinion]

In the privacy of the bedroom, a Ugandan woman gave her lover, a man she trusted, permission to take photos of her in the nude.

Unknown to her, the man would later release these images on the internet, thereby betraying her trust. In this particular case, the woman in question is in the public eye the explicit photographs have been splashed all over social media and been the subject of much curiosity and ridicule.

Along with this, rumours, gossip, speculation and blame around the situation have been the order of the day. But amidst this, we have lost the real issues at hand: a person’s privacy being violated, the lack of legislation to deal with such incidents and a culture of victim-blaming.

In a recent interview, Uganda’s minister for Ethics and Integrity, Fr Simon Lokodo, said: “She is a culprit and has broken the anti-pornography law. I have directed the police to arrest her, but first, they should investigate her.”

According to the minister, Luzinda is in breach of the anti-pornography law that defines pornography as ‘any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement.’ Lokodo quoted Article 13, section 2 of this act, saying: “A person shall not produce, traffic in, broadcast, procure, import, export, sell or abet any form of pornography.’

First, the photos were taken in an intimate situation between two people, thus making an assumption that they were produced for broadcast purposes, by the woman, are wrong. The information available in the media suggests that she was not aware and did not intend for these photographs to be exposed so, making such inflammatory statements is, plainly, being irresponsible.

Second, as said by lawyer Nicholas Opiyo on social media, a decision was made for the law to be reviewed and its implementation suspended due to its ambiguity, particularly around the matter of miniskirts. Surely, based on rumours and limited evidence available so far, the real culprit is the man and, therefore, the victim, should, without fear of arrest and blame, be able to pursue legal means to deal with this matter.

Unfortunately, on many social media fora, a common view is that the lady is responsible because she partook in this act. People argue that if you do not take such photos, they cannot be leaked. Somehow, it is still easier to blame women, to look upon this as a scandal rather than what it really is – a misogynistic crime.

This situation is not about the rights and wrongs of taking nude photos in intimate situations, and not about some hot celebrity making great tabloid fodder. It is about the very structures in our society which allow both individuals and media to make use of such images for revenge and entertainment purposes.

It is about a culture of victim-blaming which many of us do not even realise we are complicit in. We may be a country with much else to worry about, however, this case highlights the very unethical views of some of our politicians and, indeed, the way many people vilify women in a situations like this.

Let us not forget what Youth and Children Affairs Minister Ronald Kibuule said about rape – that if a raped woman was wearing a miniskirt, tight jeans, bikinis or other ‘indecent’ items, the aggressor should be freed!

Minister Lokodo has also made similarly ridiculous remarks, stating: “If a woman is dressed in attire that irritates the mind and excites other people of the opposite sex, please you should hurry up and go home and change” because “men are so weak that if they saw an indecently-dressed woman, they would just jump on her.”

And so in this situation, a woman has taken intimate photos, a man has released them, seemingly, without her permission, yet she is responsible responsible for exposing her body parts and, therefore, exciting men sexually! Those same men choose to look at pornography, to publish such photos for a gain in finances and popularity and, judge her instead of realising that she was the victim in this.

For many, this may be considered a high-class problem which does not affect the majority of Ugandans. However, the truth is that today it is a celebrity that has been the victim of violation and victim-blaming, but tomorrow it could be you or your loved ones.

As for Father Lokodo, in his quest to spread his messages regarding ethical behaviours and integrity, all he has done, once again, is to bring into question the ethics of him holding the position he does in government.


The author is a friend to Uganda.

Source : The Observer

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