Morality on a weighing scale



[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="923"] Kampala International University’s (KIU) Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr Annette Kezaabu,(above)[/caption]



The Anti-pornography Act, 2014 describes pornography as, “Any representation through publication, exhibition or cinematography, of a person engaged in real or stimulated explicit sexual activities, or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement.”

      Shortly after the law was passed on February 6, 2014 the Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Fr Lokodo, led a crusade around Kampala cracking down on people deemed to have breached any section of the anti-pornography law.

Together with the police, Lokodo went to Makindye and arrestedTcontroversial musician Jemimah Kansiime, alias Panadol w’Abasajja, and her producer, Muchwa March Didi Mugisha. The two were accused of producing songs and music videos that the legislation deemed pornographic. The producer was later granted bail, and Kansiime remanded.

However, Lokodo was accused of technically violating the Act because he had not yet formed a committee to help carry out these arrests. The minister is required to constitute a Pornography Control Committee (PCC), to receive complaints about transgressions, based on which investigations are carried out and arrests made to gather conclusive evidence.

The anti-pornography law requires that the PCC would consist of nine members, including a chairperson nominated by the Uganda Law Society, representatives from media houses, artistes, cultural and religious leaders.

On August 28, 2017, Kampala International University’s (KIU) Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr Annette Kezaabu,(above) was appointed chairperson of the PCC, and the committee was fully constituted.

The committee resolved shortly after, to arrest six people against whom sufficient evidence had been gathered, and present them to court for prosecution. These were: Judith Heard, Lillian Rukundo, a one Shamim, Jack Pemba and Honey Suleman, a woman in the video with Jack Pemba, and a police constable in Jinja, Esther Akol.

This is a good initiative indeed but the question that still lingers in the minds of people is: “For how long will this be sustained?” Our legislative system has been known to have reactionary tendencies instead of dealing with issues pro-actively.

Joel Osekenyi, a fourth-year student of law at UCU, thinks the activities of the PCC will eventually die out on grounds of sustainability and lack of funding.

“I have noticed a tendency in public service whereby when people are given tasks they want to impress their bosses and public but eventually they get tired, relax and give up.”

The state of pornography consumption in Uganda is high especially facilitated by easy access to technological gadgets like smart phones, tabs, and computers. Under Section 7 of the law, the committee shall develop and install software on electronic equipment to detect and suppress pornography, and with help of police arrest the culprits.

On the contrary, Joseph Musaalo, the UCU counsellor said that success cannot only be registered through carrying out arrests of the implicated people, but rather massive country-wide sensitization.

“The purveyors of pornographic content could be dealing with addiction. Thus, you can arrest them today but tomorrow they will be back to it, and yet addiction can be managed,” said Musaalo.

Another notable development is that the government purchased a machine or software that it says will help in fighting pornography, at the cost of Shs2 billion. However, since its purchase, the machine has not been mentioned anywhere as an element that has helped in the interception of perpetuation. What has been presented as “sufficient evidence” so far are the leaked videos doing the rounds on social media platforms.

Should the committee then acknowledge that the solution to pornography circulation is far beyond their reach? With all the gadgets installed and sophisticated software, the vice still continues unabated. And more questions linger: “The software will detect pornography in gadgets but what about that in storage devices like Compact Disks (CDs) or Digital Versatile Disks (DVDs)?”

The other source of concern is the funding for the committee. To fully be operational, the PCC  needs a secretariat of about 40 staff members and a budget allocation of Shs2 billion per year. However, even out of the nine members who were approved for appointment to the committee, only four have reported for duty; and only Shs600 million has been allocated.

So the questions go on: “Will the committee be efficient? How are nine people going to make up for the 31?”

The idea of saving the nation from moral degradation is a good thing, but adequate preparation is essential for better results.

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