[The Sexuality Blog] Uganda plans to eradicate pornography and sexting | Here’s how

This tweet was one of the first to announce the new ban on sexting by the Ugandan government. The new sexting ban (yes, we know it is as ridiculous as it sounds), sees the Ugandan government threatening to force telecommunication networks in the country to grant them access to the text messages shared by subscribers and all text messages shared between users scrutinised for an explicit content, which can then be construed as ‘sexting’ or ‘pornography’.

A Ugandan professor Dr. Annette Kzeaambu has been announced as the head of a national Porn Committee that is supposed to oversee the sexting ban and punish defaulters. The committee has already purportedly purchased an $88,0000 ‘machine’ to help them spy on Ugandan citizens and single out defaulters.

Keep in mind that this is Uganda, a country where corruption reigns, education facilities have remained terrible and the public healthcare system can’t save its sick. It was reported that the day before the porn committee was inaugurated, there was a Rotary Cancer run to collect funds to buy a radiotherapy machine for a Kampala-based hospital. The country apparently has had no radiotherapy machine since the only one broke down last year.

This is the latest ban in a series of Ugandan hard knocks on the sexual freedoms of its citizens. It follows bans on miniskirts, pornography and homosexuality.

How did things spiral this far in Uganda and why isn’t anyone saying anything?

The Ugandan government under long time dictator, Yoweri Museveni has increasingly fallen out of favour with the West because of a 2005 constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits and allows Museveni to continue to rule ad-infinitum.

As Museveni lost the support of Western financiers he found one enduring backer, American based Christian fundamentalist group, The Fellowship, which considers Museveni their ‘Key Man in Africa’.

In exchange for access to the Fellowship’s vast and untaxed funds, Museveni has allowed the group spread its fundamentalist and often violent doctrines in Uganda, often codifying them in the countries laws. The brutal laws passed against LGBT persons was a direct influence of The Fellowship’s policies in Uganda, as well as the continued dependence and exultation of religion in government spaces. It has also allowed figures like famous pastor Martin Ssempa – who  has been convicted of trying to frame a fellow pastor with false accusations of homosexuality – operate freely in Uganda.

The Christian evangelical non-profits of Uganda make up one fifth of the country’s NGO’s and are worth at least $4 Billion by modest estimates. With that kind of money and influence and Museveni himself personally endorsing these organisations, something drastic needs to happen by way of policy. Otherwise, we will only see more of these ridiculousness occur in modern day Uganda.

For now, we wait to see how the new sexting law will be implemented in a country where everyone is now hip to encryption.

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