By Funmilayo Olagunju
Black’s Law dictionary defines the word obscene as something extremely offensive under contemporary community standards of morality or decency; grossly repugnant to the generally accepted notions of what is appropriate.
Under the Supreme Court’s three-part test, material is legally obscene- if taken as a whole, the material appeals to the prurient interest in sex, as determined by the average person applying contemporary community standards; portrays sexual conduct, as specifically defined by the applicable state law, in a patently offensive way; and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
The deliberate act or attempt of sending obscene content to another person is not just a moral wrong, but a punishable offence. Publication of obscene content is not new to digital age. Pornographic content were available in print and it is an offence to deliberately post it.
Section 170 of the Criminal Code Act provides;
Any person who knowingly sends, or attempts to send, by post anything which;
(b) encloses an indecent or obscene print, painting, photograph, lithograph, engraving, book, card, or article, or which has on it, or in it, or on its cover, any indecent, obscene, or grossly offensive words, marks, or designs; is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for one year.
Sequel to the wide spread of the internet, publication of obscene content through digital means becomes a menace. Section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act 2015 prohibits the publication of pornographic or obscene material by means of computer system or network. The cited section provides:
“(a) Any person who knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter by means of computer systems or network that is grossly offensive, pornographic or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character or causes any such message or matter to be so sent;… commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N7, 000,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment”
Be informed that the act of sending obscene content on the internet or through non digital means is a punishable offence. Verify the content of broadcast before forwarding it indiscriminately. The act of sending unsolicited personal obscene images to another person is equally an offence. The image could also become a blackmail weapon for future sextortion.
“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving”
Ephesians 5:4 (NIV)