ACDP MP and member of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Cheryllyn Dudley, at briefings yesterday on the interventions taken to deal with the escalating statistics of rape and kidnapping of children asked the Department of Social Development, the South African Human Rights Commission, and the Commission for Gender Equality and the Committee to “investigate what part legislation is playing in causing statutory rape to be condoned by all who should be exposing it and protecting our young people.  We have a situation where an abuser can take a 12-year-old for an abortion and no questions are asked”.

Dudley said, “the interactions were less like a briefing and more like an interrogation of efforts to date which revealed unanimous agreement that a combined all-out effort - to move from expressing horror at the attacks taking place on children to actually providing help and protection - must be our urgent and all-consuming priority.  We cannot continue as normal while so many children’s lives are a living hell”.

Dudley also called for “an adequate budget to employ increased numbers of social workers - and create a system that is proactive and preventative - to be found in budgets across departments including Social Development, Health, Justice, Safety and Security, Water & Sanitation, Housing, and Home Affairs”.

On three occasions last year Dudley addressed the National Assembly on the harms of pornography for society, especially vulnerable groups like women and children. “The impact on society is in fact no secret and violence against women also impacts tragically on their children”, she said. “Pornography use is rife in South Africa. While we are in the top 20 of all countries in the world, we are number 1 in the world for accessing pornography via smart phones.  Much credible research confirms the link between adult pornography and violence against women and children and that allowing potential rapists to access pornography, significantly increases the likelihood of them going out and raping.”

The ACDP has called, and continues to call for a full-scale investigation into the public health costs and social consequences of adults’ use of and exposure to pornography across South Africa.  “We believe this would reveal the immeasurable harm it is causing both women and children.”

The Constitutional Court in De Reuck v Director of Public Prosecutions 2004 (1) SA 406 (CC) held that the limitation of pornography “does not implicate the core values of the right [to freedom of expression]” and that pornography is, “for the most part, expression of little value which is found on the periphery of the right”.

5 July 2018