CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, A STARK REALITY IN SA
Written by: Nqobile Msomi
Child pornography is a topic which remains taboo in South Africa, with many people thinking it is a western issue and does not happen in this country.
According to the Department of Justice in South Africa, child pornography can be defined as any person exposing or displaying, or causing exposure or display, of child pornography to a child is guilty of the offence of exposing or displaying or causing the exposure or display, of child pornography or pornography to a child.
Imagine Durban and Safer Cities Department hosted a forum at the Botanic Department, with ‘Know your vulnerability and close the gap against cyber-crimes’ being the topic of the day. This comes after South Africa celebrated National Child Protection Week (CPW).
Senior Advocate Omashani Naidoo of the National Prosecuting Authority, Sexual Offences, and Community Affairs Unit expressed her view on the matter.
“South Africa is not a very good place for children and has become one of the largest distributors of child pornography,” stated Naidoo.
“Child Porn is a stark reality, it cannot get worse than that,” she added.
Naidoo delivered a speech to the media, school learners and teachers, in which she spoke about the dangers of the internet and how rife child pornography is in South Africa.
In light of this, she revealed that statistics released in 2006 exposing child porn capitals in the world indicated that South Africa was the leading country in child porn.
She also urged students to pay attention as they were the people that would take the message back to their peers.
Naidoo says that all persons found in possession of a video containing child pornography would face charges, or if they are found sharing such content on the internet, they would be charged with distribution of child pornography.
Other statistics released by Naidoo indicated that every second, US$ 3075.64 is spent on child porn and 28 258 internet users view child pornography every second.
These startling statistics work hand in hand with the dangers of posting children’s pictures on the internet where they are nude or semi-nude.
An example of child pornography is the much talked about Jules High incident that occurred in 2010, where a girl ended up committing suicide after a video of her and fellow companions having sexual intercourse went viral. Although the girl admitted to the intercourse being consensual, all three were charged with consensual sexual penetration.
The video of the victim was shared and posted all over the internet. This served as an example of child pornography as she was under the age of 16.
Dr. Collin Thakur, Director of e-Skills CoLab at Durban University of Technology gave a speech on safe internet usage for parents and managing your digital footprint.
“You should close your settings (have them on private) where only your friends can see what you are posting. This is a way of managing that people who are not on your friend list do not see what is on your wall,” said Thakur.
“Be careful what you post on Facebook because it will be used against you at your worst moment .You decide what you want to be (on the internet) but know that there are consequences to it. Facebook is not a diary, it is not the story of your life, it is a pool of engagement and a social platform,” added Thakur.
The Department of Justice in South Africa also states that sending and sharing nude or semi-nude photos or videos and/or sexually suggestive messages via mobile phone texting or instant messaging (sexting) between children may therefore, depending on the content, also fall within the ambit of the prohibition of possessing or creating, producing and distributing child pornography.
In her speech, Naidoo explained to the audience the cycle of how a perpetrator takes advantage of a child.
She explained that the perpetrator first monitors and surveys a child, then lures then with promises and then grooms the victim by exposing them to pornography and breaking down barriers, such as telling the child that sex is acceptable and is something pleasurable. The perpetrator then sexually abuses the child, and then lets them go, or in some cases, they are killed.
As one of the solutions to child pornography Naidoo emphasised the importance of working together as a society. She said that things can be different if people support one another, and methods such as psycho-social prevention are used.
When Naidoo was asked if money was the reason for people getting involved in pornography, she replied saying that sexual gratification was another reason for this.
With regards to the consequences for persons found in possession or distribution of child pornography, the Department of Justice in South Africa states that a person found guilty may be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment or both. A conviction in terms of this Act may also result in the offender’s particulars being registered in the National Register for Sex Offenders. The victim of cyber bullying can apply at the nearest Magistrate’s Court for a protection order in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act, 2011 (Act 17 of 2011)
In his closing statement, Thakur advised parents in attendance to be cautious about what their children are exposed to.
*Picture: There is an unhealing scar behind every child that is abused