TACKLING SMS PORN

Digital Content

Your child can be accessing porn simply by watching TV and using a cellphone to send an SMS. Viewers are asked to SMS the choice of their "hot babe" and, a beep later, you have soft pornography at your disposal.

Now South African organisations are planning to "unite against child pornography" and take a formal stand against it at a two-day conference in Port Elizabeth that has taken place over the past week.

Child pornography is not just the active involvement or participation of children in sexual acts or the photography of it, but also the distribution of it via cellphones. It also concerns the accessibility of pornography by children.

"When we look at pornography, we don't just take into account the children that are actively involved in pornography, but also their access to it. Pornography on cellphones is easily accessible and we will be looking at ways in which we can overcome this problem," said Shokie Bopape-Dlomo, CEO of the Film and Publications Board (FPB), one of the organisations which have been attending the conference.

It has also been attended by non-governmental organisations, child rights organisations, psychologists and cellphone operators. The conference aims at developing a sustainable link between these role players and hopes to conscientise South Africans about the effects of this phenomenon in the country.

The objectives of the conference are to firstly formulate a programme of action, as well as create visibility and education.

The FPB says that by involving the cellphone operators, they hope to receive a better understanding of how the technology works and the extent of what cellphones can provide.

They also hope to come up with a strategy of how to minimise exposure of adult pornography to children. Bopape-Dlomo said the FPB hoped to cement a relationship with civil society, government and organisations concerned with children's rights.

"We hope this conference will not be about ideals, but action as well. We have government departments involved, like the Department of Safety and Security and Public Prosecutions."

The Department of Home Affairs has become actively involved as the FPB is a public entity under this department. The new legislation governing child pornography has been amended to include description, such as text, as well as images of child pornography. It has also amended the maximum penalty from five to 10 years' imprisonment for offenders.

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