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Parliamentary committee rejects distribution of dehumanising porn

 

(PHOTO: anonhq.com).

 

In a positive development during its latest deliberations on the Films and Publications Amendment Bill, the Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises — a working committee of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) — rejected a proposal to legalise the distribution of vile and dehumanising forms of pornography, reports Cause For Justice (CFJ).

The expected finalisation of the Bill on Tuesday morning was postponed due to the lack of a quorum, leaving unresolved a proposal to legalise the online distribution of hard-core pornography to adults, which researchers say contributes to sexual abuse against women and children, says CFJ in a press release yesterday.

The postponement — apparently due to political gamesmanship — however, provides interested parties and concerned citizens further opportunity to contact members of the committee and other MPs in the NCOP, to raise their concerns with the Bill’s problematic proposals, says CFJ.

Commenting on the committee’s rejection of the Department of Communication’s proposals to allow distribution of vile and dehumanising pornography, CFJ says: “sanity, at last, seems to be prevailing”.

CFJ has been calling on parliament for two and a half years — first in the National Assembly, where its calls were not heeded, and more recently in the NCOP — to reject the department’s proposals.

In line with CFJ’s submissions, a number of committee members expressed grave concerns about clauses proposing to remove the prohibition of pornographic material that violates the right to human dignity and/or depictions of acts that are degrading of human beings.

At a meeting on October 24 the committee rejected the proposed amendments – deciding that degrading explicit materials will remain illegal in South Africa: a recognition of the fundamental value of the inherent dignity of human beings (section 10 of the Constitution) and that vulnerable individuals’ safety and protection from exploitation takes precedence over the fulfilment of primarily men’s desires for deviant sexual entertainment.

CFJ director Ryan Smit pointed out: “We are dealing here with real people being used by others as ‘human toilets’ (coprophilia and urophilia) as well as other harmful and degrading paraphilia, and these vile acts being recorded and distributed. There is simply no constitutional justification for providing legal protection for the distribution of such materials and the Select Committee was right to retain the criminal prohibition of such distributions.”

Of concern, CFJ noted, were several “shocking slip-ups” by the committee, including removal of the words “sexual violence” from a clause, which has the effect of legalising the distribution of materials depicting actual sexual violence; and failure to outlaw distribution of materials depicting sexual acts with a human corpse.

Smit said CFJ will monitor whether the NCOP fixes the “slip-ups” in a plenary sitting, failing which it will ask the President to send the Bill back to Parliament for fixing before signing it into law.

 
 

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