A Dutch court’s decision to unban a child-sex advocacy group, Martijn, poses a threat to South Africa, say the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and Operation Bobbi Bear (OBB), who have signed a petition calling on the Dutch government to re-ban the group and to ban any form of child-sex advocacy.
South Africans should be concerned about Martijn and an associated political group, PNVD, because they have been lobbying for the Dutch Government to lower the age of sexual consent, and for social acceptance for paedophilia and its expression, say OBB and the ACDP in a joint media statement issued after they addressed a press conference in Durban today. The unbanning of Martijn encourages their counterparts in other countries to lobby for the same legal rights thereby threatening the legal protection of children.
In June 2012 a Dutch court ruled that the group was illegal but the Appeal Court overturned the ruling in April 2013. Both courts acknowledged that the group’s actions are harmful to the physical and sexual integrity of children but the higher court found that their activities did not pose a disruption to society, as they did not deem children to be active members of society. The Public Prosecutor has taken the case to the Supreme Court for a definitive ruling. A number of members of Martijn’s Board have been convicted for sex crimes against children and possession of child pornography.
The petition was due to be handed to the Dutch Government at The Hague today by the “Ring The Alarm” team, SA child-protection NGO, OBB, and Cambodian children’s protection group, Aple. A full list of almost 200 NGOs from different countries, who have supported this petition, can be found on the Ring The Alarm site: http://ring-the-alarm.com/signatories/
Sex tourism and child sex trafficking
“This [the unbanning of Martijn] affects South Africa and other developing countries particularly because of sex tourism and child-sex trafficking but may also cause the same legal issues in Western countries. If Martijn is able to move forward with their agenda, their counterparts in other countries will then have leverage to petition for the same things. The laws on webcam sex tourism targeting children and travelling to have sex with children have international implications if laws in one country are changed,” say OBB and the ACDP.
The joint media statement continues: “The South African Police Service (SAPS) recorded more than 54 225 crimes against children during the year 2010/11. Taking into account the fact that the Solidarity Helping Hand’s research estimates that 88 percent of child abuse cases go unreported, this means the actual figure could be closer to roughly half a million. A 2009 study published in the Clinical Psychology Review, examined 65 studies from 22 countries and concluded that the highest prevalence of child sexual abuse is in Africa (34.4%) and primarily in South Africa.
“Due to high rates of abuse we just cannot afford to ignore issues even if they are in another country. Our world is too small.
“When we look at consent, 80% of offenders are well known and trusted by the child, and abuse takes place mainly in environments where the abuser has complete control. If we lower age of consent (what child-sex advocacy groups lobby for), then if a 10-year-old child is placed in a situation with an abuser – the onus would be on him to say no, in terms of the law.
“A Zurich study shows increased sexual harassment of children over the Internet, including across borders. There is also recent evidence, with the main victims being from developing countries – of child webcam sex tourism. A research organisation in the Netherlands, called Terre des Hommes managed to pass on 1000 names of paedophiles offering money to ’10 year old Sweetie from the Philippines” to do sex acts in front of a webcam. These names were handed to various authorities from 71 countries, during a 10-week ‘sting’ operation using a computer simulation called ‘Sweetie’.
“If it is not illegal in the perpetrators home country (based on age of consent, or a redefinition of paedophilia), then it is difficult to prosecute. Let us look at recent international cases: In February 2009 the worlds largest internet-based paedophile ring was uncovered with 40 000 members – 670 of which were identified, as well as 230 children that were sexually abused, in 30 countries. In 2011, an online forum was discovered called boylover.net, hosted in the Netherlands, with up to 70 000 members from around the world. It was supposedly ‘discussion only’ which kept it off the radar of authorities. The site was in effect used as a front, and after meeting on the forum, members would initiate private contact to exchange pictures and film of children being abused.
“As South Africans, we were shocked at the recent arrest of a Free State teacher, a principle, a lawyer, a dermatologist, a businessman and an IT expert for being involved in an international child-porn ring, and news of 26 more South Africans who formed part of a global syndicate of child sex abusers. Imagine if they could legally form a child-sex advocacy group as a front?
“There is just a simple question; do we want child-sex advocacy groups anywhere in the world? (As opposed to groups that would actually provide treatment and try to curb sexual contact with children)
“A redefinition of paedophilia especially, has implications for South African children and laws aimed at their protection.
“It is of real concern that in May of 2013, The American Psychiatric Association released the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) developed over a 10-year period. Within this document, Paedophilia was listed as a ‘sexual orientation’ and not a mental disorder.
“Following aggressive public outcry, the APA changed the text to read ‘sexual interest’. THIS WAS ONLY DUE TO PUBLIC OUTCRY, and only by chance that it didn’t go unnoticed. The APA made the distinction between a medical definition and a legal definition, however, medical definitions, INFORM legal definitions and policies. The American paedophilic advocacy group, ‘B4U-ACT’, who identify as ‘minor-attracted persons’ have also made moves towards the same goals. According to spokesperson and registered sex offender Paul Christiano, the paedophilia-advocacy group is ‘working towards de-stigmatizing the mental health community’ saying that negative societal attitudes towards ‘minor-attracted persons’ ‘trickle down to policy-making and the mental health community”, with reference to sexual offences registers and age of consent for example. The group says while they don’t condone illegal activity, people must be allowed to celebrate sex and sexuality and that the community of minor-attracted persons is, as a whole, ‘denied their complexities.’ (By the law) We believe B4U-ACT is a front, based on their stated intentions, and we will be focusing on them next.
“This redefinition could mean that in countries like Uganda where the ‘gay’ community faces real violence they would be further persecuted.
“Current Laws mean that it is impossible for civil/criminal penalty to be attached to sexual orientation. This means if the definition is changed, a paedophile could argue in court that it is his constitutional right to express his sexual orientation, and since this pertains to minors specifically, he cannot be punished for having sex with a minor, provided the minor ‘consents’. The reason why the redefinition of paedophilia to paedosexuals, or a sexual orientation is so frightening for SA is because of a constitutional clause, which specifically forbids discrimination due to sexual orientation. (Section 9.3 SA Constitution – ‘The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including…sexual orientation…’)
“South African anti-discrimination laws currently protect the ‘gay’ community, but if the definition is changed for paedophilia, we would have to change our constitution, or laws to protect children would be unconstitutional.
“Anti-discrimination legislation stipulates that a person cannot be arrested for sexual acts relating to their sexual orientation. So you therefore could not arrest a paedophile if they are defined as ‘minor-attracted persons’/paedosexuals/sexual orientation towards children.
“Paedophiles, could then argue, that laws preventing intimacy and sexual relations between adults (who are paedophiles) and children then unfairly discriminate against them on the basis of their sexual orientation or the expression of their sexual orientation.
“Paedophiles, could then argue that the current Children’s Amendment Act – the Marriage act, and a few other laws that stipulate age of consent, age of marriage etc., are then also unconstitutional.
“The Labour Act disallows discrimination based on sexual orientation, this means that the sexual offenders register would also be unconstitutional, so that at a school, a crèche, an NGO dealing with children, and orphanages – you could not discriminate and would be forced to hire a paedophile, or be in contravention of the law.
“The Rental Housing Act is another example – you cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and therefore you could not refuse to rent a part of your property, for example a granny flat, to a person you know is a paedophile, even if you have your own children living on the premises, etc.
“Some of the SA clergy have already made statements saying that paedophilia is not ‘criminal’ but they have not suggested that it is a legitimate sexual orientation.
“An example – In 2008 a German Priest went on a church camp and sexually assaulted young boys in Gauteng. It then came to light that he had 36 allegations of sexual assault in Germany, and was subsequently transferred to SA in 2007. It took him less than a year to reoffend. Why was his transfer granted? Why did SA clergy allow him to harm those boys, in our country? This is happening despite laws we have to protect children.
“If the definition of paedophilia is changed from being a mental disorder, to a ‘sexual orientation’ then we would have been even more powerless to stop this.
“Then there is the issue of stigmatism from the rest of the paedophiles, against those seeking treatment for paedophilia if it is redefined as a sexual orientation.
“Whilst it is easy to dismiss paedophiles as a fringe group, unfortunately reported and anecdotal statistics of sexual abuse of children are rising, and it may follow that the numbers of adults sexually interested in children, are also increasing. The growing global trend of paedophiles arranging themselves into ‘advocacy groups’ becomes frightening, as a very few simple un-noticed changes in definition could result in a domino effect of child protection laws crumbling, with law being powerless to stop this.”