By Solomon Lubambula
In a bid to address the increasing cases of immorality and criminal acts in our society, President Yoweri Museveni has assented to yet another controversial bill.
President Yoweri Museveni has signed the anti-pornography bill becoming part of Uganda’s legal instruments. The state minister for ethics and integrity Rev. Simon Lokodo, confirmed the president’s signature saying the law is now ready to crackdown on all acts of immorality.
The Anti-Pornography Act creates the offence of pornography which is blamed for sexual crimes against women and children including rape, child molestation and incest.
The law criminalizes watching and promoting pornography with a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail or paying 500 currency points equivalents to 10 million shillings or both .while those promoting the pornographic acts among children are to be sentenced to 15 years in jail or paying 750 currency points which is an equivalent of 15 million shillings or both upon conviction. According to the law even those who wear miniskirts or expose their sexual body parts like thighs and buttocks that may cause sexual excitement will face charges.
The seeming happy Lokodo lashed out at foreign governments who have continued to threaten Uganda upon signing such laws to back off since Uganda is an independent and sovereign nation.
The Act defines pornography as any representation, through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, 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.
At one time, the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Kajara County (NRM) MP Stephen Tashobya, supported the prohibiting of pornography because of the dangers it poses to individuals, families and communities.
“It is therefore necessary to pass a law that specifically deals with the offence of pornography and derives the reform necessary to stamp pornography out of the Ugandan society,” –Tashobya
During the process of making the law, the Committee observed that despite the existence of various legislations prohibiting pornography in Uganda, there is no single law to comprehensively deal with the problem.
The Committee cited the Penal Code Act Cap 120, the Computer Misuse Act, 2011 and the prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2009, which prohibit only some aspects of pornography.
The Anti-Pornography Bill, 2009 sets up the Pornography Control Committee, responsible for the implementation of the law and for taking necessary measures to ensure early detection and prohibition of pornography. The Committee will also be charged with the collection and destruction of pornographic materials.
Although the Anti-Pornography ACT outlaws anything that shows sexual parts of a person such as breasts, thighs, buttocks or any erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement or any indecent act or behaviour tending to corrupt morals, among other things, there exceptions. The Act may not be relevant is situations like at the Beach, Sport or in cases of cultural situations where someone dresses to execute that given purpose.
The earlier provisions of the law on pornography (Article 166 of the Penal Code) did not recognize the fact that the issue of pornography transcends publication and includes communication, speech, entertainment, stage play, broadcast music, dance, art, fashion, motion picture and audio recording.
Critics have a number of reasons why it may be hard to enforce the law, including when someone causes sexual excitement, which particular body part cause sex excitement since even lips can be described as the same, what would be the standard measurements for clothes for instance skirts? These and many more questions are yet to be answered.
A while back during the Anti-pornography law making process West Budama MP Fox Odoi put up a controversial argument that shocked many.
The independent minded West Budama MP Fox Odoi believed that the decline of spiritual levels among the people should not be a justification for the enactment of laws.
Many of the morally irresponsible behaviors are already catered for in the bible and Koran, so there is no way any man-made legislation will add value to the Koran, Bible not in Implementation and not even in literature.
“I take the view that dressing in itself is a consequence of sin, Yes God created Adam and Eve naked, when they sinned they decided to dress up, so man is supposed to be naked and there is nothing wrong with that absolutely, nothing wrong with being naked or partly naked.” Odoi defended.
Odoi who apologizes for his controversial views, says that standards of dressing by the Nuns and priests in the Catholic Church that covers the entire body should not be pushed to the lent
“For example I do not see anything wrong with walking bare-chested in to a church to pray”-Odoi
But he stressed that his argument was that today people want to transfer the influence the Christian values and Mohammad values into legislation and therefore into our culture which he finds very offending and unacceptable.
The Director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative Livingstone Ssewanyana warned that every society needs certain standards, this law could be abused if there is no proper regulations on its implementation.
Ssewanyana says that some members of the public might take it upon themselves to identify who is indecently dressed and take the law in their own hands.