Southern African Bishops seek clarification of child abuse law

 The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) has appealed to its government to clarify the law on reporting child abuse. In an open letter to all Catholics in the country, the Bishops emphasised that they regard child abuse as a criminal act which damages and destroys the promise of a young life stating that everyone had a duty to report such abuse wherever it might occur. "The welfare of the child comes first, not the interest of the perpetrator; however the law itself is not altogether clear in what circumstances the report has to be given, or by whom. We have appealed to the Government to clarify the situation". In its letter the SACBC also questioned the media's role in what it called society's schizophrenic attitude toward sex stating that in its view the media had a duty to expose the conditions in society which encourage "evils such as child abuse." The letter continued: "Our Deputy President, Jacob Zuma told us at the Launch of the Moral Regeneration Movement in Pretoria on April 18, 2002 that we should find ways to 'deal with perversions such as child pornography'. This is a challenge which we all need to take on for the betterment of our society". The Church in southern Africa operates an internal Protocol which demands that in a case where anyone from church personnel is accused of child abuse, it has to be reported without delay to a specially appointed contact person in each diocese. That person is then charged with the task of pursuing the case according to procedures laid out in the Protocol. This practice has been criticised by the media for its lack of public accountability.

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