By Hilary White

JOHANNESBURG, October 1, 2009 ( – Earlier this month, the Department of Home Affairs of the government of South Africa announced its intention to develop an “inter-departmental protocol” on preventing child pornography.

“The increase of access to technology and mobile internet, with all its benefits, poses risks such as creation and distribution of child pornography. We need to be proactive in protecting children against this heinous crime,” said Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba.

The generally unregulated nature of the internet makes compiling reliable statistics difficult, but it is estimated that China, South Korea, Japan and the US are the world's top consumers of pornography.  The Internet Filter Review estimates that as many as 4.2 million, or 12 percent, of the internet is pornography sites.

The US-based Internet Filter Review believes that, as of December 2005, child pornography was a $3 billion annual industry.

Malusi Gigaba said: “The lack of statistics about child pornography should not lead us to being complacent in protecting children.” He suggested that the country should “explore an outright ban on pornography in the public media” and said he would be asking the Law Reform Commission for advice to this end.

The South African government, in a bid to reduce the use of child pornography, launched a website intended to alert internet service providers of criminal activities relating to child pornography or images of sexual abuse hosted on their servers through their infrastructure.

Tim Samuels, a reporter writing on the subject in the Guardian, related his experiences investigating first hand the effect the pornography industry is having in some regions of Africa. In a remote village in Ghana, Samuels wrote, a mud hut was transformed into an “impromptu porn cinema” playing videos made in Los Angeles, “and turning some young men into rapists.” Villagers related “chilling stories of assaults taking place straight after the film's end.”

Read related coverage:

New Study Reveals Child Pornography Not a Crime In Most Countries



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