Is there any relief I can seek for release of sex tape?

BY: Mirror Lawyer

Dear Mirror Lawyer, I am a final-year student in one of the tertiary institutions in the country. Sometime last year, my ex-boyfriend shared a video on social media of us having sexual intercourse. In the video, he had blurred out his face but mine was very visible.

He sent me a WhatsApp message saying that he was punishing me for breaking up with him. He used his laptop to secretly record all that we did in his room.

This has been a source of great distress and embarrassment to me and my family.
I was at some point contemplating suicide but thankfully I received very helpful counselling. I don’t want him to do to another person what he did to me. Is there any relief I can seek under the law?
Ama Konadu,
Accra.

Dear Ama, I am sorry you had to go through this ordeal. The advent of the internet and social media has brought revolutionary changes in respect to the way we communicate with each other today as opposed to some 30 years ago.

However, it has also brought forth a million other ways in which miscreants may wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims.
One of such vices is what is termed as ‘revenge-porn’. Revenge porn is the non-consensual disclosure of sexually explicit images or videos usually by a former sexual partner to cause them distress or embarrassment.

The term ‘revenge porn’ is quite alien to our jurisdiction; however, anyone seeking relief can fall on the universal principle of the right to privacy.

The right to privacy is an inherent human right which is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the right of a person to be free from intrusion into or publicity concerning matters of a private nature”.

The right to privacy is also guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana which provides that “No one shall be subjected to the interference with the privacy of his home, property, correspondence or communication except by law…” but it may be extended to include anything which is widely considered to be private.

That said, you may with the help of a lawyer begin an action against your ex-boyfriend at the High Court seeking reliefs for the infringement of your right to privacy by way of damages or compensation.

You may also complain to the police as his acts fall within the ambit of what the Criminal Offences Act 1960 describes as the publication of obscene material under Section 280.

The law states that “A person who publishes or offers for sale an obscene book, writing or representation commits a misdemeanour”. Anything obscene is offensive, lewd or indecent given the prevalent morals of a particular society.

He may consequently be charged and if the case against him is successfully prosecuted, he would be duly convicted by the law.