There was a need for a credible and thorough investigation into the effects of pornography in South Africa, ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley said in parliament this week.
She warned that parts of government policy in the Film and Publications Amendment Bill before the Portfolio Committee on Communications promoted sexual exploitation and facilitated sexual violence on women and girls.
Speaking in the National Women’s Day debate on the emancipation and empowerment of women, she said huge efforts by government and civil society to empower and protect women were being undermined by failing to remove sexually exploitative pornography from media platforms.
She said: “The policy position [in the Film and Publications Amendment Bill] that children must be protected from exposure to pornography, is strongly supported by the ACDP, however we cannot support the notion that adults should view what they want when society continues to suffer the consequences of pornography’s exploitative message: most recently being the sexual assault and rape of pupils by staff and other adults in our schools.
“Research makes it clear that sexually exploitative and devaluing messaging, results in sexual exploitation, irrespective of the age of the viewer. Sexual crime is also, as much about a need to sexually humiliate and degrade the victim as it is about control and sexual gratification.
“The ACDP also rejects the policy proposal to only disallow the distribution of violent pornography which would result in the mainstreaming of non-violent sexually explicit material that is degrading of human beings and disrespecting of human dignity. Neither being in the interest of justice nor in the public interest. The protection of human dignity being a cornerstone of our democracy.”
Dudley said that online pornography was behind a global rise in harms including sexual addictions and disorders, damaged and broken relationships, sexting, child-on-child sexual abuse, revenge porn, increased rape on college campuses and in the military, rampant sexual objectification of women in popular culture, anxiety and depression.
She said the reality of the harms was causing a growing number of United State state legislatures to declare pornography to be a public health crisis.
What the late pornography pioneer and Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner tried to sell as emancipating and empowering, history and research has shown to be utterly enslaving and profoundly disempowering, she said.
“How can we — knowing that exposure to material that promotes sexual exploitation and facilitates sexual violence on women and girls — support the distribution of such material into our society without conducting a credible and thorough investigation into the effects of pornography in South Africa?” she said.