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NetClean Labs | 24/03/2017

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Online sexual abuse in South Africa: a growing problem - NetClean Labs

Online sexual abuse in South Africa: a growing problem
Guest Writer

Yusuf Abramjee, Head of Crime Line and Lead South African Activist, discusses online sexual abuse in South Africa. Yusuf is one of South Africa’s most famous and acclaimed journalists, and a leading figure in the fight against all forms of crime.

The spate of arrests in South Africa over the last year involving the creation, production, distribution and possession of child pornography, has brought to light the extent of the problem in the country. They have helped confirm the opinion of many experts that it is both a prevalent and growing issue. To protect our communities and society more steps need to be taken to tackle the growing issue of child sexual abuse in South Africa before the risk to children becomes insurmountable.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence against children in the world. A recent study by the Bureau of Marketing Research (BMR) at UNISA highlighted just how vulnerable children are online. The study found that 31 per cent of children in Gauteng had encountered paedophiles online, while 60 per cent had taken and shared naked or semi-naked pictures of themselves. However, the country clearly lacks a truly proactive approach to preventative measures.

At the moment, there are several pieces of legislation in place to protect children. These are the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act; the Film and Publications Board (FPB) Bill and Pro-Child Hotline; and the Children’s Act. However, the current laws do not clearly and effectively force ISPs to block websites that contain child sexual abuse material.

Technology exists all over the world that can help ISPs do this in a proactive manner – and we need to start using it now. This technology and approach is already in place in countries like Sweden and the UK and is helping those countries to crack down on this social scourge. A cooperative approach between ISPs, corporates, the government and all citizens, supported by the right technological solutions will help us address this issue head-on.