Good and Bad in New Film and Publications Bill - 4 August 2008


The Christian Action Network had both praise and criticism for the amendments made to the Film and Publications Amendment Bill accepted by the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee on Friday (1 August).

The Bill aims to tighten up some of the legislation on pornography, and especially aims to give children better protection from harmful exposure to porn.

The Home Affairs Portfolio Committee was involved in vigorous debate last week over changes made by the NCOP which watered-down the Bill significantly. This was after the pro-family groups Standing Together to Oppose Pornography (STOP) and the Christian Action Network pointed out the disastrous consequences of these proposed changes. Fearing medical journals with articles on sexual dysfunctions would have to submit these publications for classification, the NCOP introduced the word “explicit” to “sexual conduct” and other new conditions for pre-classification submissions. This word would have lowered the current requirements and for example, magazines with hard-core pornographic material would no longer have to be submitted.

The Home Affairs Committee noted these effects and removed the word “explicit” from the conditions. The other conditions, however, include “material which …degrades human dignity”. “We are concerned that Hustler could claim that their magazines do not degrade women and therefore would not have to submit their magazines for pre-classification,” says Taryn Hodgson, international co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network. “This would defeat the whole purpose of the Bill – to give children greater protection from exposure to porn. Hustler has often published images of women in degrading sexually suggestive positions, and often uses offensive, degrading language to describe women, yet they continue to only receive an 18 classification.

“The Film and Publications Board has dragged its heels in updating separate guidelines for classifying magazines. This new Bill, especially the conditions for pre-classification submission will affect these guidelines. We also hope that the offence of exposing children to porn in the new Sexual Offences Act (Section 19) will affect the guidelines. We urge the FPB to do so as soon as possible and to involve groups such as STOP and CAN in the process.

“We are pleased however, with the now expanded definition of “explicit” to be inserted in Section 16 and 18 of the Act. It could open the door to more material being given stricter classifications. This could mean for example, that material previously rated 18 could be given an X18 (can only be sold from a sex shop) classification or X18 material could be given an XX classification.

“We are still very much concerned about the fact that there are no restrictions on broadcasters. A film can be rated X18 by the Film and Publications Board but is allowed to be shown on television. This makes a mockery of the whole system. We urge ICASA to change the Broadcasting Code to come in line with the FPB classifications.

“We are optimistic that the positive changes to the Bill could lead to the removal of porn magazines from stationary shops such as CNA. However, most of the damage to children from pornography comes through adults exposing children to it. Women and children will not be given the real protection they need until all pornographic materials are criminalised.”

The Bill will most probably be passed by the National Assembly in late August.

This National Women’s Day, Saturday 9 August, members of the Christian Action Network will be protesting against the exploitative pornography industry with pro-family displays and education campaigns in shopping malls. Contact CAN for pro-family literature and other resources or for more details on the Women’s Day events.

CONTACT: International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network, Taryn Hodgson on 072 215 4801 or 021-689 4480, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa [email protected] - 021-689-4481 -
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