Samson’s Take: The law against obscenity catches all

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Mon, 11 Sep 2017 Source: Samson Lardy ANYENINI

Let none deceive you into believing that it is only when you can be pinned down to be the one who circulated nude or obscene material in the nature of photographs or video footage that the Ghanaian law catches up with you. I discover many stop at section 280 of the law, Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960, (Act 29) which says: “[w]hoever publishes or offers for sale any obscene book, writing, or representation, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”

"It must be explained that obscene material here does not extend, for example, to such exposure in publications for “use of physicians or surgeons, or of persons seeking medical or surgical information”, except that it must be “treated with as much decency as the subject admits.”

Yes, the law clearly prohibits the publication or circulation of nudity as in the present case as filmed by a man who caught his wife in bed with another man. But one cannot escape conviction if the material is given what the law describes as unnecessary prominence to the indecent material and such act “is calculated unnecessarily and improperly to excite passion, or to corrupt morals.”

In reading this law, you need always to move just one step down to section 281 which is headed “Further Offences Relating to Obscenity” and categorically states that the maker, producer, possessor, importer, exporter, advertiser, or even anyone who deals with or assists in the circulation either directly or indirectly is equally guilty of the offence.

I reproduce that section here:

Any person who-

(a) for the purposes of or by way of trade, or for the purposes of distribution or public exhibition, makes, produces, or has in his possession any one or more obscene writings, drawings, prints, paintings, printed matter, pictures, posters, emblems, photographs, cinematograph films, or any other obscene objects; or

(b) for any of the purposes above mentioned, imports, conveys, or exports, or causes to be imported, conveyed, or exported, any of the said obscene matters or things, or in any manner whatsoever puts any of them into circulation; or

(c) carries on or takes part in any business, whether public or private, concerned with any of the said obscene matters or things, or deals in any of the said matters or things in any manner whatsoever, or distributes any of them or exhibits any of them publicly; or makes a business of lending any of them; or

(d) advertises or makes known by any means whatsoever, with a view to assist in the said punishable circulation or traffic, that a person is engaged in any of the above punishable acts, or advertises or makes known how or from whom any of the said obscene matters or things can be procured either directly or indirectly, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”

Adultery, like fornication, is held by all religions as sin. Yes, it’s a moral issue but not a crime. So what does a spouse really need such video evidence for because same is not required to procure a divorce in a civil case either?

Again, the claim that one who catches the spouse in the act of adultery is allowed in law to criminally assault them is also erroneous, hideous, most frightening and something that must never be preached. The position of the law is that chancing upon such an act is certain to lead to such extreme provocation to get one to act violently.

But even so, it must be that any violent reaction is not one that can be said to have been planned and deliberate but spontaneous. Whatever the circumstance, a reaction that results in killing a spouse would not absolve one of guilt but might only succeed, for example, in getting a murder conviction turned into a manslaughter conviction.

This outcome means the accused may get sentence of life imprisonment instead of being sentenced to death for the felony because the law is that [w]hoever intentionally causes the death of another person by any unlawful harm is guilty of murder, unless his crime is reduced to manslaughter by reason of such extreme provocation, or other matter of partial excuse…”

Titus 2:2 says "Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance."

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

September 9, 2017

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Columnist: Samson Lardy ANYENINI