LUSAKA, Zambia—At AVN, we never tire of recounting stories where a ban on pornography is used in the service of political oppression, and the latest lesson comes from Zambia, where the news editor of the country's largest independent newspaper has been arrested and put on trial for "distributing obscene images."
Chansa Kabwela, in calling for an end to the nurses' strike that has crippled the healthcare system in Zambia, sent the offending photos to the country's vice-president, its helath minister, and various human rights groups.
The images? Two photos of a woman giving birth without medical help. They depict the baby in the breech position, with its shoulders, legs and arms emerging from the woman's vagina, but with the head still inside.
The woman, it seems, had earlier been turned away from two medical clinics and finally wound up at Lusaka's main hospital where the photos were taken—and where her baby suffocated because by the time the hospital admitted the woman, it was too late for their surgeons to save the child, which died of suffocation.
Kabwela said she was given the photos by the woman's relatives, but soon after sending them to the government officials, President Rupiah Banda called the pictures pornographic and demanded a police investigation. Kabwela was soon arrested for distributing obscene material with intent to corrupt public morals, a charge that carries a possible five-year prison term.
Kabwela's attorney has argued at the trial, which is still ongoing, that in order for the photos to be "obscene," complaining witnesses should have to describe what about them is arousing, and the prosecution's first witness, the senior private secretary to the vice-president, reportedly was "roundly embarrassed by having to describe her 'arousal'."
But the trial is likely not about the photographs at all. According to the BBC News story, Kabwela's employer, The Post, "has relentlessly pursued the government with allegations of corruption, and the president has made no secret of his dislike of the paper."
Just another example of political suppression through "porn."