Resounding Support for Anti-Internet Pornography Bill
As part of a two-day Symposium on Combating the Exposure of Children to Pornography organized by the Film and Publications Board in conjunction with the Family Policy Institute, several different experts from fields ranging from neuropsychiatry, technology, and constitutional law gave compelling evidence for the need for, and feasibility of, internet pornography being blocked at a national level in South Africa.
The Symposium was well attended by various government departments, the South African Police Service, the legal fraternity, academics, women and children's groups, scientists, social experts, NGOs and representatives from Vodacom and MTN.
Director of the Justice Alliance of South Africa, John Smyth QC, has drafted an Internet and Cell Phone Pornography Bill which proposes that pornography be filtered out at the tier one service providers to avoid it entering the country. The Bill is aimed at the total ban of pornography on internet and mobile phones.
Smyth summarised the legal argument for the Bill in his presentation at the Symposium, "I have no doubt in my mind that should such a Bill be challenged in the Constitutional Court that the Court would be bound to hold that the section 28 obligation to protect at all costs the best interests of children would trump the rights to freedom of expression and privacy."
JASA's Internet Pornography Bill and Legal Opinion can be read on the www.justicealliance.co.za website.
This proposed Bill comes as a result of calls from Deputy Minister of Home Affairs to ban pornography from the public sphere, to ensure, as far as possible, that children are not exposed to porn.
Research done by the Film and Publications Board in 2006 found that 64% of teenagers surveyed had been exposed to pornographic images on the internet and 81% admitted they had seen such images on their friends cell phones. Research done by UNISA indicates that over 75% of high school age youth have access to the internet via their cell phones. Participants at the Symposium from Nyanga township (near Cape Town), say that children accessing porn on their cell phones is now common amongst township youth.
As part of this two-day symposium, a number of different experts addressed the participants. Prof. Tovial Zabow, a forensic psychiatrist, gave compelling evidence for how pornography produces chemical reactions in the brain similar to that of cocaine addiction and actually damages the brain. He further described how the porn addict’s primitive part of the brain (or pain and pleasure centre of the brain) overrides the thinking or rational part of the brain.
Clive Human of Standing Together to Oppose Pornography gave shocking case studies of children who have been exposed to pornography via the internet and the harm it has caused to them. He also gave examples of the damage porn addiction has inflicted on marriages and families from men he has counseled.
Peter Mancer from Watchdog International, an internet filtering and safety organization based in New Zealand, explained the filtering technology that can be used to successfully block pornography on the internet at a national level without effecting internet speed and with a cost of only R2 a year to internet users.
Symposium participants came from all over the country, including rural areas of the Eastern Cape. Judging by comments from the conference participants, there seemed to be overwhelming support for the Anti-Internet Pornography Bill. Only one representative from the Freedom of Expression Institute seemed to have concerns about such a Bill. Now it will be up to the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba, to suggest whether any changes need to be made to the Bill and chart the way forward for the Bill to be tabled in Parliament.
Should such a Bill be passed, it would be one of the first for a democratic country. Middle Eastern and Asian countries such as China that block porn on the internet, also block political and religious dissent.
John Smyth believes that it is legislatively easier to tackle one medium at a time in banning pornography. It is hoped that in future legislation, pornography can also be banned from television. Separate classification guidelines and warnings of explicit content on magazine covers are also needed for magazines.
The Christian Action Network believes that, in the light of the fact that pornography violates God's Law, and the above legal arguments and practical considerations, that all pornography should be totally banned, but welcomes any measures to limit its availability.
"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." Ephesians 5:11
Taryn Hodgson of the Christian Action Network, John Smyth of JASA and Errol Naidoo, of the Family Policy Institute were interviewed by Special Assignment on these issues. The programme will be broadcast on Tuesday, 17 August, 20:30, on SABC 3. Please pray that the programme will be edited in such a way that the truth comes across clearly and convincingly.
Women's Day Outreaches
Women need real protection and respect - practical action, not pious platitudes from politicians and meaningless public holidays! Why not use Women's Day this year (9 August 2010) as an opportunity to inform, inspire and involve people in promoting awareness and taking action against the exploitation of women through pornography, prostitution, trafficking and abortion?
You can download our Women's Day leaflet here .
On 9 August, National Women's Day, Africa Christian Action will be setting up literature tables in three different shopping malls in the Cape Town area - Khayelitsha Shopping Centre, Canal Walk and Somerset Mall. Why don't you consider doing a similar outreach in your area?
You could also encourage your congregation's Bible Study/Home Groups and pastor to focus their discussions and sermons nearest to Women's Day on informing and inspiring people to take action to protect women from abuse and exploitation. We have some helpful resources, books and DVDs which could empower your cell group to make a positive difference.
Make a Difference!
Contact Christian Action for the community action equipping tool: Make a Difference: a Christian Action Handbook for Southern Africa.
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
7735 Cape Town
Tel: 021-689 4481