By Sella Oneko
Bikini photos and sexy dance videos might soon be a thing of the past if Tanzania’s government has its way. A number of artists have now been banned from posting their content.
Video vixens. That’s the buzz word that has sparked social media discussions throughout Tanzania. It’s also the term with which some female celebrities describe themselves on the Instagram, Youtube or Twitter handles. They pose in bikinis, lacy lingerie, dresses that reveal or accentuate their bodies and they dance or ‘grind’ with male dancers in music videos. But now they’ve been banned.
It’s immoral, un-Tanzanian and definitely not for the eyes of children, some people argue. On the other hand, others say, the vixens have a huge online following and just because the more conservative elements in Tanzanian society demand it, the government should have no right to shut them down.
The artists known by names such as Gigy Money, Pretty Kind and Amber Lulu, amongst others, were called in by the Information, Culture and Arts Ministry. Tanzania’s entertainment media and bloggers who covered the event later showed videos, in which some of the artists apologized, while others decried the government for restricting their online freedoms. Some of them have now been banned from posting online content for several months.
These artists and celebrities have a large following and make money from that, says Julieth Kulangwa, an assistant editor at Tanzania’s Mwananchi newspaper. She argues that it’s high time that the government cracked down on the celebrities. “These artists that have been going nude didn’t start yesterday, but when the government is not doing anything, society starts to copy. It becomes a trend,” she says.
According to Kulangwa, the videos and pictures simply aren’t accepted in Tanzanian culture. “It’s our law, it’s our custom, we have to obey,” she says.
Kulangwa thinks the government should go even further and censor content showing international celebrities on Tanzanian TV and online channels. “You ban our local artists, but Rihanna and the like are there,” she says. What especially concerns her is the nudity, which already includes women in underwear or bikinis, being shown on TV before 11 p.m., when children could still be watching.
That said, social media companies like Instagram, Facebook and Youtube all have anti-nudity policies, which forbid the posting of pictures and videos showing female breasts, particularly nipples, naked buttocks, sexual organs and sexual acts. In practice, however, such content still appears online.
Where does censorship end?
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