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FACT #1: We do not have criminal sanctions for child pornography on our criminal code (offline) but we are criminalising it online.
FACT #2: In the proposed child pornography offence in the Cybercrime Bill 2016, it outlines the offence of child pornography in different ways, including:
“A person who, intentionally…
(e) possesses child pornography in a computer system or on a computer data storage medium…
commits an offence.”
FACT #3: Child pornography is defined to include (along with other definitions) material that:
“depicts or presents a child engaged in sexual activity or conduct;”
“depicts or presents a child in a sexually explicit pose”
FACT #4: In this bill “child” means “a person under the age of eighteen years”
FACT #5: The revised version of the bill will say that on summary conviction for child pornography you are liable to a fine of up to $300,000 or up to imprisonment for seven years or both; or conviction on indictment, to a fine of up to $750,000 or up to imprisonment of 20 years or both.
NOTE the following:
- A person who possesses child pornography can be a child (that is under 18).
- A 16-year-old boyfriend (a child) possesses (merely) pictures of his 15-year-old girlfriend (a child) in a sexually explicit depiction. He intentionally possesses it because he took the pictures or she did and shared them with him. He keeps them on his phone or flash drive.
- If at any time this is reported/complained about to law enforcement, he can be charged as having committed child pornography. And if found guilty he can go to jail or at best pay a fine and have a criminal record! Now read over the maximum fines again!
While this area is generally good, that is to criminalise child pornography, this paragraph (e) in particular IS NOT PROTECTING CHILDREN AT ALL. While we hope our children to be responsible about sex and their education, children between 15 and 17 may engage in this sort of practice (sexting they call it?) with each other. One may say that this paragraph needs to reflect that “A person” must be an adult possessing or storing sexually explicit images of a child.
THE CONTRADICTION: In our law you can give consent to sex at age 15. So a 45-year-old man may be in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl who sends him sexually explicit pictures. For the purposes of this bill she is a child but under criminal law she can give consent to sex. So is he engaging in child porn with his girlfriend who can legally consent to sex, when he possesses or stores her pictures on his computer, phone or flash-drive? Hmmmm… The revised bill must address this.
What about our call to raise the age of consent? Harmonising of the ages across legislation will be necessary.
Reflections from a Select Committee Meeting Insider
Anesia O. Baptiste
The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].