Say No to Online Pornography
PROPOSED NEW LEGISLATION: Films and Publications Amendment Bill
The South African Parliament is currently considering a new (the Films and Publications Amendment Bill), which amongst other things, proposes legalising and decriminalising online distribution of pornography.
Apart from the proposed legalising of online pornography, the Bill contains certain commendable interventions, such as prohibiting and criminalising “revenge porn”, child pornography, depictions of sexual assault and depictions of violence against children. It also requires distributors of online pornography to put measures in place to ensure that children will not be able to access their content. There is however no indication what these measures will be.
On 6 March 2018, the National Assembly (the 1st house of Parliament) adopted the Bill. The Bill will next go before the National Council of Provinces (“NCOP”) (the 2nd house of Parliament) to be debated, followed by a vote to decide whether the legislative proposals will be adopted or not.
THE CAUSE: What is the issue/problem?
Up to now, South African law has provided that adult content may only be legally distributed/broadcast and accessed/viewed inside a licensed adult premises, such as Adult World.
In highlighting some of the most troubling aspects of this new Bill to Parliament, Cause for Justice (“CFJ”)’s main comments have focussed on the fact that:
- Pornography (a specific type of adult content) violates the human dignity of the characters it depicts.
- There are various harms associated with exposure to all forms of adult content, not only for the adolescent viewer, but also the adult viewer, intimate partners of viewers, family relationships and vulnerable groups in society, such as victims of sexually violent crimes (mostly women and children).
- CFJ dealt with parts of the scientific research evidence on the harms of exposure to adult content in a blog. A wider summary of the research on the harms of pornography is available here. We encourage everyone to read it, to acquaint yourself with the harms you and your family are exposed to through others’ exposure to pornography.
- CFJ has prepared a short summary of our concerns regarding the Bill.
You have a VOICE: What can you do?
As South Africa is a democracy, every person is not only a number, but has a voice. Your voice will make a difference!
We encourage all who support this cause to add your voice in any of the following ways:
- Sign our petition against online pornography here:
- Send this ready prepared written submission to the members of the NCOP Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises
- Make a financial contributionto assist and enable us to continue our work on this cause
- Spreading the word about this cause to others
- Like and share our Facebook Page and invite others to do the same
- IF YOU ARE FEELING REALLY BRAVE: Send us your story (first person account) of either your own exposure to pornography or of someone you know, and the effects it has had on you personally and/or on those around you (This could be done on an anonymous basis.)
FIGHTING THE FIGHT: What have we done and what do we intend to do?
From January 2013 up to March 2015, CFJ, together with two other organisations, fought and stopped the broadcasting of pornography on South African Television in the Starsat/ICASA matter.
In response to the introduction of the Bill in Parliament, CFJ answered the call to take part in the Parliamentary public participation process. CFJ provided the Portfolio Committee with initial written submissions .
From 30 August to 1 September 2016, the Portfolio Committee held public hearings on the Bill. CFJ presented oral submissions to Parliament on 30 August 2016. You can view our presentation here.
On Friday 25 November 2016, as part of the “16 days of activism for no violence against women and children” campaign, CFJ handed over a Memorandum in Parliament. The Memorandum refers to the impact that the Films and Publications Amendment Bill will have on the perpetration of sexual violence against women and children. You can view our Memorandum here.