Home Affairs ratchets up campaign

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 30 Jun 2008

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and its Films and Publication Board (FPB) will tomorrow boost the fight against child abuse by introducing an anti-child pornography Web site.

The DHA says the launch is "one of key recommendations of the recent anti-child pornography indaba held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand".

The indaba's final statement also mooted a possible total ban on the possession and sale of all pornography in SA, and a serious toning down of images in glossy men and women's magazines.

The refrain has also been taken up in Parliament in the last fortnight where amendments to the Film and Publication Act are still under discussion.

The DHA adds the site will be officially "launched by the deputy minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba" and "will be used by members of the public to report and expose incidences of child sexual abuse images found on the Internet".

South Africa is the first country on the continent to launch such a Web site.

Unclear extent

The anti-porn drive comes despite a Human Sciences Research Council "desk review" of online child abuse finding that "the extent of the problem in SA is not known and may never be known".

The study estimated that fewer than 20 cases involving images of child abuse - commonly called child porn - have been investigated in SA over the past five years.

Sources "are most likely to be foreign" although mobile phones now allow teenagers and younger children to photograph and film themselves and distribute such content to their peers, which in itself amounts to a contravention of the law. These images could easily land in the hands of predators.

Previous research abroad has "guestimated" that there are more than one million child sexual abuse images available on the Internet.

Related stories:
Don't condemn technology
Google fights child porn
Internet child abuse rampant?
New laws to affect ICT industry
Policing online adult content problematic
Thought police target 'new' media
Censorship Bill back to drafters?