It’s ignorantly offensive when people disregard illegalities and rather blame those who somewhat did nothing wrong anytime sex tapes leak—and this time, I am referring to the appalling incident of KNUST students publicly mounting a giant screen to screen a leaked sex tape of two students.
Common arguments such as; ‘why the heck did they record the sex tape in the first place and they deserve it for taking the camera to the bedroom’ are proudly erected all around social media when sex tapes leak by people who are mostly at the upper-echelon of the sharing of these tapes.
Sometimes, these people place a posture as though they genuine care about those affected, when in fact, they are just condemning a lawfully action while endorsing an illegality of sharing.
Contrary to popular misconception, two consenting adults have a legal right to record their own sex sessions—provided they do not intend to make it public. And in many leaked tape cases, the two involved can’t be said to have such illegitimate intention.
So I can decide to record an hour long sex bout with my girlfriend, wife or whoever is interested and we’ve not committed any crime—as long as we wanted to record it for our own private keep or viewing.
However, if this tape somehow leaks and you go about uploading it online, sending to friends via WhatsApp or any other medium, you are committing a crime of distributing obscene material per Section 281 of Ghana’s Criminal Offences Act—and also under the laws of many other jurisdictions.
Of course it’s inherently risky to be recording sex tapes in this day and age where privacy breaches are as common as egg shells but that does not in anyway serve as a legal restriction on the liberty of those who want to do so.
And ideally, people should be cautious when it comes to recording sex because of the hovering risk of leakage but the fact remains that, ‘sexual libertarians and freaks’ have the right to do this—no matter how absurd it sounds.
What’s fundamentally a crime and sincerely pathetic is the sharing or redistribution of leaked tapes by many of us—and worse, those who recently mounted a giant screen to screen a private sex encounter of two adults.
Don’t get it wrong; the legal argument of having a right to record a sex tape borders on the fact that, the two recording the tape must be adults who have consented to the recording and intend not to make it a public material or available to a third party.
It’s a matter of common sense, what two adults do in the privacy of their rooms should not be the headache of anyone, certainly not the law. And even if this is done in privacy, without any intention to make it public, there’s no way anyone would know of it such that it deserves to become a crime.
The culture of publicly shaming people who have fallen victims of sex tapes leak in Ghana ought to end—when someone has not committed any crime, irrespective of where you sit on an unbinding moral conversation, you have no right to shame the person for literally doing nothing ‘bad’ or nothing illegal.
Remember, if you tape a partner or a sexual act involving another without his or her consent, that taping is a crime—there’s no consent from both participants. Invasion of sexual privacy constitutes a crime in Ghana and in every sane jurisdiction.
The United States has had a test of this issue several times—and though just a persuasive precedent, the Colgate University student-Michael Piznarski incident should illustrates the position in Ghana and in almost every jurisdiction.
During the summer of 2010, Michael Piznarski secretly mounted recoding devices in his bedroom and recorded his many sexual encounters with his then girlfriend-Jane Doe No. 1. After Jane broke up with him, Piznarski contacted her on facebook, informing her of the sex tapes and insinuated he would be leaking them.
Following this, Jane filed a complaint with the police and the police obtained a search warrant with which they stormed Michael Piznarski’s residence. At the apartment, the police removed a small digital camera, external hard drive and a laptop.
A search on the laptop revealed several recorded videos of Piznarski having sex with Jane Doe No. 1 and a single video of having sex with another woman, Jane Doe No. 2. The two women did not know a thing about the fact that these recording devices where in place and knew nothing about the recording—let alone to consent.
Michael Piznarski was charged and convicted under New York’s Stephanie’s Law, a statute that deals with unlawful surveillance which makes it an offence to record any person having sex or changing clothes when the person reasonably expects privacy.
On top of having been ordered by the court to pay restitution to the two women, Piznarski was sentenced to 3 years for recording himself having sex with Jane Doe No. 1 and an additional year for the taping of himself with Jane Doe No. 2.
Piznarski later appealed against his conviction, arguing that, Stephanie’s Law, did not apply to sneaky recordings of consensual sexual encounters and that it only reasonably applied to Peeping Toms—the Appeal Court rejected his argument. So the sex can be consented, but if the accompanying recording is not, then it becomes a crime.
As it stands, this is the law in most countries across the world when it comes to recording of private sex—sharing of privately recorded sex tapes remains a crime, yet many of us have become collectors and sharers of such tapes.
Perhaps, it’s time someone gets jailed in Ghana for sharing a private sex tape—for those who have taken keen interest in this enterprise to run out of the room.