ERADICATING SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IN OUR LIFETIME – ONE DAY AT A TIME
A LOOK AT SOME OF CASE-SA’S ACTIVITIES DURING THE SECOND HALF OF 2021
The Centre Against Sexual Exploitation, South Africa (CASE-SA) was initiated with the objective to end the scourge of pornography and sexual exploitation – in all its forms – in South Africa.
CASE-SA builds on an initial law and policy-making focus by broadening its scope to encompass a more holistic approach to the problem of pornography and sexual exploitation.
The vision of CASE-SA is to see the realisation of a society free of pornography and sexual exploitation – where everyone’s inherent dignity is respected and protected. To achieve our mission, we employ a three-pronged strategy:
Practically, we aim to –
- EDUCATE society on the harms of pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation;
- EMPOWER people to protect themselves and others from exposure to pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation, including equipping people on how to respond to exposure and how to recover from the effects of exposure; and
- ERADICATE the distribution of pornography and prevent other forms of sexual exploitation to the fullest extent of the law.
The 2021 year is behind us – and what an extremely challenging year it has been! So, what has CASE-SA been up to move closer to making the dream of a society that is free of all forms of sexual exploitation, a reality. Let’s have a look –
EDUCATE AND EMPOWER
In the midst of a global pandemic, the issue of internet pornography has been escalated as many homes increase their online use. Children are the most at risk of being accidentally exposed as they rarely have any reference for the kind of harmful material the internet contains and have underdeveloped internal controls to stay away from it. The brain of a child is still developing, which makes them the most vulnerable human beings on the planet – legitimately the most in need of caregivers – caregivers that will protect them online and offline!
This year, we have been relentless in our efforts to create awareness around this public health crisis and launched our first offering – an online course: #ParentTalk – produced to educate and empower parents to better protect children in this digital age.
Our social media campaigns in 2021 ranged from encouraging communities to protect children together, to educating ourselves on an individual level on how to better protect children and spreading the FACTS in this digital age. Our Facebook and Instagram platforms have grown and recruiting Ambassadors (to carry this message into their communities and networks) has become a priority for us, as a further means of spreading this resource far and wide and supporting as many families as possible.
Caregivers, educators and parents are beginning to witness the negative impact of pornographic material on children and reaching out to us for help. Facing fears of the unknown as we move forward in this social experiment, our only hope is to educate more parents with the facts that will cultivate more conversations to protect more children. It is a top priority for us to support caregivers in South Africa. We have sent information about this resource to many schools and peers.
We hosted live events and informative interviews this year with influential role players who are working on the ground with families and children. Sexual addiction experts, therapists, clinical psychologists and doctors who all recognize the harmful role that pornography is playing in shaping our society. These interviews can be viewed on our dedicated website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Radio interviews with numerous radio stations cultivated important discussions and also got the word out there about #ParentTalk and challenged parents to be more assertive in their parenting as guardians of their children’s safety and well-being.
It is our hope that this subject moves from the taboo to a recognized threat to our public health and the mental health of our children. It is only when this happens that we can better protect the children in our care.
‘Porn-Proofing’ Schools, Homes, Community and Care Centres
Another of CASE-SA’s programmes is the ‘Porn-proofing’ of schools, homes, after-care, day-care and community/public centres (such as churches, libraries etc.). Watch this introductory video to learn more about this programme.
Research shows that pornography is extremely detrimental to the physiological and psychological health of children. The developing human brain is vulnerable to external influences – and we know that development of the pre-frontal cortex only completes at around age 25! Given their young age, children lack the necessary maturity and life experience, and quite literally the brain capacity to protect themselves from exploitation. That is why we need to ensure children’s spaces are safe (‘porn-proofed’) spaces.
- You can read more about the harms of pornography on CASE-SA’s dedicated resources page.
The aim of the ‘Porn-proofing’ programme is to educate and empower parents, schools, educators, other caregivers and community leaders to put measures in place to safeguard their homes and schools/community spaces, using a 5-step plan:
Step 1: Secure the source
Step 2: Secure the Wi-Fi
Step 3: Secure end user devices
Step 4: Develop and implement robust and effective school policy or house rules
Step 5: Develop, adopt and instil a healthy values-based culture/ethos
In addition to the 5 steps, it’s important to maintain a safe environment through:
- Regular awareness training to parents and educators/caregivers
- Equipping parents, teachers/caregivers to educate and empower children to reject and respond appropriately to pornography exposure
- Monitoring and evaluating effectiveness of policies, rules and protective measures
For more information, visit our dedicated ‘Porn-proofing’ web-page.
If you are passionate about spreading the word about ‘Porn-proofing’ homes and schools, and helping others to keep children safe from harmful content, we encourage you to sign up to become a ‘Porn-proofing’ and #ParentTalk Ambassador.
16 Days of Activism for Ending Violence against Women and Children
The annual 16 Days of Activism international campaign, that runs from 25 November to 10 December, provides us with an opportunity every year to raise awareness about the link between pornography and gender-based violence.
This year CASE-SA’s own 16 Days of Activism campaign focused on how we can prevent gender-based violence altogether. We were raising awareness that if we are to protect both our women and children, we must address access and exposure to pornography. We have to face the facts that pornography plays an undeniable role in the sexualisation of children, gender-based violence, and violence against women and children. If we are to protect both our women and children (and men!), we must address the distribution of pornography and prevent exposure as well as we can. We cannot escape the fact that porn culture fuels rape culture and violence.
Our call-to-action was (and still is) for every single person to take up the baton and educate themselves so that we are empowered to protect our children and our communities. Together we can eradicate sexual exploitation and GBV in our world.
The first line of defence would be to prevent access and exposure to pornography by porn-proofing homes, schools and communities! We educated people during our campaign on how to follow the 5-step approach to protect children (and more accurately every person) to the harmful effects of pornography and thus protect women and children from gender-based violence. Next, it was vitally important for us to raise awareness about the importance of educating people on the effects of pornography on the human brain, heart and the world. At CASE-SA we have an online course #ParentTalk: The Unspoken Epidemic of Children and Pornography that is currently available and includes all the information any person could need to get educated on how to protect their child from the harmful impact of pornography! We also have plenty of resources available to the public to make use of – visit our website for more information.
During the period of 16 Days of Activism we had the privilege of participating in various radio interview about educating the public on the link between pornography and gender-based violence:
When it comes to eradicating all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation, CASE-SA focuses on law and policy-making initiatives. Our goal is the legal prohibition of sexual abuse and exploitation in all its forms and ensuring that the law has the necessary protections in place to keep South Africans safe from harm!
Cybercrimes Act, 2021
The Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020 was signed into law by the President on 26 May 2021 and many of the sections came into operation on 1 December 2021. This new Act introduces a new offence in the form of malicious communication. This would include the disclosure of a data messages containing intimate images. An intimate image would be any image portraying nudity of intimate body parts. If any person discloses such an intimate image of another, without their consent, such a person will be guilty of an offence.
This is a victory for those in the movement to end sexual exploitation. These new laws will allow justice to be seen for those who suffer at the hands of perpetrators.
We have focused on various projects in 2021 as to make sure South Africans – and especially children – are protected from the harmful impact of pornography. Let’s look at a few such projects that we are involved in:
- South African Law Reform Commission Project 107: Sexual Offences (Pornography and Children): Project 107 focuses on ensuring South African law comprehensively and effectively protects children from pornography. We participated in the Commission’s public consultation processes on how to best protect children from the scourge of pornography. The Commission’s final report has been approved and signed by the Minister of Justice. It is now in the process of being published after complying with certain formalities.
- Children’s Amendment Bill: The Children’s Act is being reviewed – which provides an opportunity to ensure it affords the best and most effective legal protections to safeguard children against the harmful impact that comes with exposure to explicit sexual and violent content. In 2021, we made oral representations to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development, imploring the Committee to insert legislative provisions in the Children’s Act that will introduce a legal duty to protect children from harmful content (especially pornography).
Prostitution and Sex Trafficking
- South African prostitution law reform: The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is currently busy reviewing prostitution laws in South Africa. Under current South African law, both the buying and selling of prostituted services (i.e. both the demand and supply sides of prostitution) are illegal. CASE-SA, in support of the Constitutional Court’s decision in S v Jordan (2002), sees prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation and a violation of human dignity. Earlier this year, as part of our work in this area, we gave a presentation on the implications of prostitution law reform to the National Freedom Network (NFN).
NFN was formed with the aim to connect all the various counter-trafficking organisations with one another as well as with other role players across the movement. It has since become South Africa’s counter-trafficking network.
In the presentation CASE-SA emphasised the link between the legal status of prostitution and the creation/production, distribution, and consumption of pornography. There is an undeniable connection between prostitution, pornography, and sex trafficking (and other forms of sexual abuse and exploitation). Where one of these forms of sexual exploitation increases, due to for example the legalisation thereof, it is inevitable that the other forms will also increase.
- Training on the TIP Act and the Guidelines for the Prevention of and Response to Child Exploitation: After the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act (TIP Act) came into operation, it became clear that it was necessary to educate social service practitioners about its content and the application thereof in practice. The Department of Social Development thus held a training workshop in December 2021 to address gaps, and misunderstandings of responsibilities and roles of these practitioners. In doing so, social services can be strengthened to empower those working on the ground to identify and prevent sexual exploitation. We were privileged to be asked to give a presentation on how to protect children from the devastating effects of pornography.
TOGETHER WE CAN #ENDSEXPLOITATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
In our pursuit to #EndSexpolitation in South Africa, we know we cannot eradicate sexual exploitation on our own. We work together with others in the movement to strengthen the coalition to #EndSexpolitation in South Africa, and as each person and organisation does their part, we are one step closer to making the dream of eradicating sexual exploitation in our lifetime a reality – one day at a time. It’s a long and tough battle we’re engaged in, and we need to support and encourage each other along the way!
CASE-SA Peer Events
In 2021 we hosted two peer events as part of our commitment and contribution to strengthening the coalition against sexual exploitation in South Africa. At our first event we introduced our friends in the movement to our new online course: #ParentTalk: The Unspoken Epidemic of Children and Pornography. At the second event we focussed on current trends and urgent needs – such as addressing demand in the process of prostitution law reform.
These collaborative peer events enable participating organisations to update others on what they are working on, where they need help and share encouraging victory stories.
Local and International Partnerships
We engage with fellow stakeholders (both locally and abroad), ranging from other civil society organisations to academic researchers, to social services and child protection practitioners, to government departments and other institutional actors, and concerned members of the public. We do so across a wide range of platforms and forums. We also continuously seek to participate in training and other opportunities to broaden and deepen our own knowledge, and also to contribute to the empowerment of others by sharing knowledge and experience, at conferences and webinars.
Some local stakeholders and forums we engaged with in 2021 are:
- The Helderberg Child Protection Forum
- The Western Cape Anti-Trafficking Coalition;
- The National Freedom Network; and
- The Film and Publication Board, to discuss collaboration around protecting children from pornography and educating the public on the legal requirements of the Films and Publications Act.
Some international stakeholders and forums we engaged with this year are:
- Participating the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) Global Summit of 2021 hosted by the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE).
- Contributing as a member of the African Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation, looking at specific challenges that the African continent face when it comes to sexual abuse and exploitation.
- Contributing to strategic meetings of the International Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (ICOSE).
At CASE-SA we are committed to relentlessly pursuing the protection of everyone’s inherent dignity through the education and empowerment of society and the eradication of pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation.
It has been a fruitful 2021, and we hope to grow our impact in the coming year and beyond.
If you are passionate about protecting the vulnerable, allowing every person the dignity and respect they deserve and creating a society free from sexual exploitation, we invite you to support our work by way of regular or ad-hoc donations. Without your contributions, our dedicated and passionate team of four will not be able to partake in the strengthening of the movement to end sexual exploitation.
Won’t you join us in this important and worthy battle? We need your support!
Together we CAN #EndSexploitation in South Africa!