The unspoken crisis: unveiling Tanzania's revenge porn reality

What you need to know:

  • The trend of leaked intimate videos and photos has caused distress to celebrities like Nandy, Billnas, Aslay, Lulu Diva, Amber Lulu, and Gigy Money.

Dar es Salaam. The proliferation of revenge porn is rapidly intensifying in Tanzania, initially stemming from the spread of explicit videos involving non-public figures and subsequently escalating to target prominent individuals.

Over time, this harmful trend has seen a continuous stream of leaked intimate videos and photos circulating online, causing significant distress to well-known celebrities such as Nandy, Billnas, Aslay, Lulu Diva, Amber Lulu, Gigy Money, and others.

This evolving pattern underscores the pervasive impact of revenge porn across Tanzanian society, affecting both ordinary citizens and celebrities alike.

One of the celebrities, Gift Stanford, famously known as Gigy Money, reflecting on the impact of her nude videos being leaked online, says: “I want to emphasise how profoundly it affected my peace of mind and disrupted my life both as a human being and as an artiste. This was an experience that will forever remain etched in my memory because once something is online, it's incredibly difficult for it to disappear.”

She went on to say the violation of her privacy not only caused her emotional distress but also had tangible repercussions on her personal and professional life.

“It shattered my sense of security and left me vulnerable to public judgment and scrutiny. As an artiste, my reputation was tarnished, and I faced challenges in rebuilding trust and credibility,” she shares.

She advises: “I want to urge everyone, especially couples in intimate relationships, to be extremely cautious about capturing private moments through photos or videos. Trusting someone with such content can have devastating consequences if it falls into the wrong hands.”

Further, she recommends that those exploiting such content for personal gain should change that behaviour.

“Using someone's private photos or videos is not only unethical, but also it is deeply harmful. It's important to recognise the human impact of these actions and consider the lasting effects they may have on individuals and their loved ones.

“It behoves each one of us to prioritise respect for privacy and empathy towards others in our digital interactions,” she advises.

For her part, Lulu Abbas, famously known as Lulu Diva, another celebrity who has witnessed the damaging effects of revenge porn, says it's crucial to highlight the importance of respecting others' privacy and safety when it comes to sharing intimate content.

“The decision to distribute someone's nude photos or videos is not only disrespectful, but also it has severe consequences.

“Imagine the impact on someone's life when their private moments are exposed to the public eye without their permission. It can lead to feelings of betrayal, shame, and profound distress.

“Beyond the immediate emotional turmoil, it can also jeopardize personal relationships and professional opportunities. All of that happened in my life during that time,” she explains.

She went on to say it is everybody’s responsibility to prioritize respect and empathy in our interactions, especially in the digital age where sharing content can have far-reaching consequences.

“Before hitting that "send" button or forwarding sensitive material, consider the potential harm it may cause to the person depicted. Ask yourself if it aligns with the values of trust and dignity that we should uphold in our society,” she shares.

On the other hand, Mr Alfani Mduge, a sociologist from Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT), laments that the issue of revenge porn raises important considerations about privacy, consent, and the dynamics of power within digital relationships.

“Revenge porn is not simply a matter of personal scandal; it reflects broader societal issues related to gender, technology, and social norms,” he says, adding that revenge porn often involves a breach of trust within intimate relationships.

“When individuals share private content with a partner, there is an implicit understanding of confidentiality and respect. The unauthorized dissemination of such material violates this trust, highlighting the complexities of power dynamics and control in relationships,” he says.

A psychologist from SAUT, Fr Leons Maziku, shares that revenge porn perpetuates harmful stereotypes and inequalities, particularly related to gender.

“Women are disproportionately targeted and victimised by revenge porn, reflecting deeper societal attitudes towards female sexuality and autonomy.

“This phenomenon reinforces harmful narratives that objectify and commodify individuals, especially women,” he notes.

“Moreover, revenge porn underscores the challenges posed by digital technologies in regulating personal boundaries.

“The internet has blurred traditional distinctions between public and private spheres, raising critical questions about online ethics and the rights of individuals to privacy and autonomy,” he reveals.

Fr Maziku further suggests: “We have to encounter these issues by advocating for stronger legal protections against revenge porn, promoting comprehensive sex education that emphasises digital literacy, and fosters a culture of respect and empathy in our online interactions.”

“Those who are already affected need counselling from psychologists to get back to their normal conditions,” he added.

According to the Cybercrime Act of 2015, section 14 (1) states that a person shall not publish or cause to be published, through a computer system or through any other information and communication technology, pornography which is lascivious or obscene.

However, in the same section, sub-section 2 states that a person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable to conviction, in the case of publication of pornography, to a fine of not less than Sh20 million or imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years or to both.

Further, pornography that is lascivious or obscene, is to a fine of not less than Sh30 million or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years or both.

For his part, a communications expert and an assistant lecturer at DarTu (Dar es Salaam Tumaini University), Mr Richard Ngaiza, says there is a need to implement and enforce robust laws, specifically targeting revenge porn is essential.

“Tanzania should enact a legislation that criminalises the non-consensual sharing of intimate content online and establishes clear penalties for offenders,” he says.

He continues that there is also a need for a comprehensive public awareness campaign that is crucial to educate Tanzanians about the risks and consequences of revenge porn.

“These campaigns should emphasize the importance of respecting privacy, and practising responsible digital behaviour,” he explains.

He further says that it is crucial to introduce digital literacy programmes in schools and colleges/universities to navigate online spaces safely and responsibly. Education should include topics such as consent, privacy settings, and the ethical use of technology.

“By equipping people with the knowledge and skills to protect themselves online, we can mitigate the spread of revenge porn,” he shares.

Additionally, he explains that establishing support services for the victims of revenge porn is vital.

This includes legal aid, counselling, and digital security assistance to help individuals navigate the aftermath of privacy violations.

“Building a network of resources and support systems can empower victims to seek justice and recover from the emotional impact of revenge porn,” he recommends.

However, Tanzania's Minister for Information, Communication, and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye, says the government is taking strict measures to stem the distribution of unauthorized nude content (revenge porn) and ensure accountability for those involved in the dissemination process, according to the laws of the country on such matters.

“We are focused on closing every loophole that allows these illicit activities to occur online and that’s why we banned all the sites offering such content online,” he reveals.

He continues: “We are closely collaborating with relevant authorities to ensure that those engaging in the dissemination of this shameful content are held accountable according to the laws.”