Memorandum: Call for The Removal of Sexually Explicit and Women-objectifying Programmes from Television Broadcasts Sexual Offences Act

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As concerned citizens of South Africa, we are alarmed that national broadcasters and E-TV especially, should have so little concern for the negative impact that sexually explicit programming has on children and how women are viewed in society.

Women Are Precious & Valuable

We value our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters and strongly object to them being portrayed as mere sex objects or commodities in the media.

We are especially concerned that strip shows under the guise of news bulletins like E-TV's Naked News programme are being broadcasted on a national free-to-air channel.

A Personal Affront

As women, we consider sexually-objectifying programs to be a personal affront. Essentially all women are made the same. If their bodies are displayed lewdly, (and it is only women being displayed on Naked News) it degrades and devalues ordinary women like ourselves. What separates the woman displaying her body for the sexual gratification of male viewers from me? To objectify some women, is to objectify all women.

In light of the fact that the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and E-TV have refused to consider gender complaints or even contemplate gender issues such as sexism, as they are required to do under our Constitution, Equality Act (PEPUDA) and international Convention obligations, we are compelled to show our opposition by urging our denominations and congregation members to boycott the E-TV channel and its advertisers and participate in today's march to the E-TV studios in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Sexualisation of Youth

E-TV has ignored the very credible research regarding the alarming trend of the sexualisation of girls. Research of the prevalence and consequences of the sexualisation of girls has been well documented in the American Psychological Association Task Force's Report on the Sexualization of Girls (found at www.apa.org).

Children are Viewing These Programmes

"18" classification warnings are not enough to prevent children from being affected by these programmes, as the following quote from a children's counselor, demonstrates:

Shaheeda Omar, therapeutic manager at Teddy Bear Clinic in Johannesburg, has interviewed 100 child sex offenders and their mothers from across the social spectrum for her doctoral research project at Johannesburg University. In most cases she found that absent parents and "unmet emotional needs" had turned television into a "surrogate care-giver" with disastrous consequences. While some children claimed they had wanted to emulate love scenes in soap operas like the Bold and the Beautiful, others said they had been inspired by late night pornography on e-TV (Cape Times, Child on Child Violence Out of Control, 22 October 2006).

Out of Step

SABC and E-TV are out of step with other first world countries' policies on broadcasting. In England, sexually explicit programs are prohibited on free-to-air channels.

Discrimination

It is our contention that E-TV including the SABC and certain DSTV programmes has ignored the moral requirements to protect the right to dignity and equality of women - a group previously discriminated against - as outlined in the Constitution and Equality Act.

Freedom of Expression is a Limited Right

The protection of freedom of speech is vital when it comes to the freedom of political speech. However, when it comes to the right to peddle smut - it is a different matter. Notably in the case of De Reuck v Director of Public Prosecutions, the Constitutional Court, while dealing with what freedom of expression entails, held (with regards to pornography) that "[e]xpression that is restricted is, for the most part, expression of little value which is found on the periphery of the right and is a form of expression that is not protected as part of the freedom of expression in many democratic societies."

 

The Sexual Offences Act 2007 defines pornography as "any image, of a person, real or simulated, who is 18 years or older", "engaged in an act of self-masturbation", "displaying the genital organs of such person in a state of arousal or stimulation", "displaying any form of stimulation of a sexual nature of the female breasts", "engaged in sexually suggestive or lewd acts" and "showing or describing the body, or parts of the body, of that person in a manner or in circumstances which, within the context, violates, or offends, the sexual integrity or dignity of that person, or any other person, or is capable of being used for the purposes of violating, or offending the sexual integrity, or dignity of that person, or any other person."

Section 19 and 23 makes it a criminal offence to expose a child to pornography (as defined in the Act) whether intentionally or negligently. We, therefore, contend that E-tv is in contravention of the above Act by exposing children to sexually explicit images.

We recognise and support the rights of adult South Africans to make their own viewing choices. However, The Constitutional Court has ruled that when two rights come into conflict, the rights and protection of the child are paramount.

Consequently, and because nudity in the form of women stripping and other sexually explicit content on national free-to-air television does present a clear danger to children, we contend that programmes of this nature must be removed from television broadcasts.

On behalf of the participating groups detailed below, we hereby call for the immediate cancelation of Naked News on E-tv including the removal of all other sexually explicit programmes portraying women in a negative light on E-TV, the SABC, DSTV and Top TV.

Signed on behalf of the following participating organisations:

The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA): Comprising 29 Christian Denominations and 4 million members nationwide.

The Apostolic Faith Mission of SA : (AFM/AGS) Comprising approximately 1, 4 million members nationwide.

The Baptists Union: Comprising approximately 500 churches and 70 000 members nationwide.

The Full Gospel Church of SA : Comprising 1000 churches and 500 000 members nationwide.

The Assemblies of God of Southern Africa: (AOG) Comprising 1650 churches and 600 000 members nationwide.

The Methodist Church of SA : Comprising 600 churches and 2 million members nationwide fully endorses the campaign.

Many other congregations and ministries are also in support of this initiative. If you are a pastor or ministry leader, please let me know if you would like your congregation/ministry to be listed on the Memorandum.

"Don't be afraid...Remember the Lord, Who is great and awesome, and fight for your daughters, your wives and your homes." Nehemiah 4:14

Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Claremont
7735 Cape Town
South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: http://www.christianaction.org.za

 

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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