PRESS RELEASEBill widening the Scope of Legal Pornography enters Next Stage of Parliamentary Deliberations
PRESS RELEASE BY CAUSE FOR JUSTICE: 15 AUGUST 2018
* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *
SUBJECT: Bill widening the scope of legal pornography enters next stage of Parliamentary deliberations
Concerns regarding lack of adequate public consultation
This morning, the Department of Communications (DoC), represented by Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana and other delegates, briefed the Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises (the Committee) on the Films and Publications Amendment Bill (the Bill). The Committee is set to consider and deliberate on the Bill during August and September 2018. The Bill contains certain problematic proposals and was opposed by almost all opposition parties during the National Assembly (NA) process which ran its course in March this year. The National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the second House of Parliament, must now consider the proposed legislation afresh to make sure that nothing was missed during the NA process.
After completion of the public consultation process in the NA Portfolio Committee on Communications (PCC), the PCC made new/additional amendments to the Bill which the public had not seen at all, and which was then passed by the NA on 6 March 2018. Therefore, the version of the Bill now before the NCOP Committee has not yet gone through a proper public participation process.
Due to the way in which the NCOP published its invitations for public comments at the end of June (it only published once in 11 newspapers across the country), most if not all stakeholders who commented on the previous version of the Bill in the NA, only became aware of the invitation for comment after expiry of the deadline for comments on 3 August 2018. It is inexplicable that the Committee did not inform the Parliamentary Monitoring Group of its invitation for public comments, nor placed the invitation on Parliament’s own website?!
It seems that the process adopted by the NCOP is also partly to blame for the present chaos. Usually, the Committee will first be briefed by the relevant government department on a Bill, where all stakeholders would be present and only thereafter the Bill will be published for comments. In this instance, the Committee published an invitation for comments almost two months before receiving its briefing on the Bill from the DoC.
Urgent requests from Cause for Justice and others, for the deadline for written submissions to be extended to allow stakeholders sufficient time to comment on the Bill, has not yet been granted, although consideration is being given to a short extension.
Support from all quarters of the country
Cause for Justice has delivered a list of petitioners who share our concerns on the Bill to members of the NCOP, calling on them to reject certain problematic amendments which, amongst others, propose legalising –
- more vile and dehumanising types of pornography, and
- the online distribution of hardcore pornography to adult internet users.
It is well-known that pornography violates the human dignity of its characters by portraying them not as human beings with value in and of themselves, but as objects used (or exploited) for other purposes, such as the sexual stimulation and gratification of a third-party on-looker.
Therefore, Cause for Justice calls on Parliament to conduct an official and thorough investigation and enquiry into the harmful effects of adult pornography on viewers (both adults and children), actors, intimate partner relationships, family stability, and vulnerable groups like women and children (who are most at risk of becoming victims of sexual abuse/violence). This should be done before proceeding with the Bill any further. Should MPs neglect to do so, they will fail the women and children of South Africa.
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