PROPOSED NEW LEGISLATION: Films and Publications Amendment Bill

The South African Parliament is currently considering a new Bill (the Films and Publications Amendment Bill), which amongst other things, proposes legalising and decriminalising online distribution of pornography.

Apart from the proposed legalising of online pornography, the Bill contains certain commendable interventions, such as prohibiting and criminalising “revenge porn”, child pornography, depictions of sexual assault and depictions of violence against children. It also requires distributors of online pornography to put measures in place to ensure that children will not be able to access their content. There is however no indication what these measures will be.

On 6 March 2018, the National Assembly (the 1st house of Parliament) adopted the Bill. The Bill will next go before the National Council of Provinces (“NCOP”) (the 2nd house of Parliament) to be debated, followed by a vote to decide whether the legislative proposals will be adopted or not.

THE CAUSE: What is the issue/problem?

Up to now, South African law has provided that adult content may only be legally distributed/broadcast and accessed/viewed inside a licensed adult premises, such as Adult World.

In highlighting some of the most troubling aspects of this new Bill to Parliament, Cause for Justice (“CFJ”)’s main comments have focussed on the fact that:

  1. Pornography (a specific type of adult content) violates the human dignity of the characters it depicts.
  2. There are various harms associated with exposure to all forms of adult content, not only for the adolescent viewer, but also the adult viewer, intimate partners of viewers, family relationships and vulnerable groups in society, such as victims of sexually violent crimes (mostly women and children).
  • CFJ dealt with parts of the scientific research evidence on the harms of exposure to adult content in a blog. A wider summary of the research on the harms of pornography is available here. We encourage everyone to read it, to acquaint yourself with the harms you and your family are exposed to through others’ exposure to pornography.
  • CFJ has prepared a short summary of our concerns regarding the Bill.


You have a VOICE: What can you do?

As South Africa is a democracy, every person is not only a number, but has a voice. Your voice will make a difference!

We encourage all who support this cause to add your voice in any of the following ways: