Pornographic websites are gradually taking over Senegalese cyberspace. The African Association for the Defence of Children’s Rights is calling for a law banning access to adult website. The initiative has sparked controversy amongst the Senegalese population.
By Khalil Dieme, Dakar
Addressing the Senegalese media, the statement of the president of the African Association for the Defence of Children’s Rights’, Massamba Mbaye, was unequivocal: “We want the authorities of our country to enforce a law to block access to pornographic websites. This applies to websites hosted by servers both in Senegal and abroad. These websites must be shut down and should not be allowed in our country.”
Safietou Ba, who runs an internet cafe, also favours a ban on sexually explicit websites, be it that he seems more concerned about his PC’s than the vulnerable personalities of the Senegalese youths. “These websites are full of viruses and they have damaged our computers,” he says. “I have personally prohibited all my clients from visiting this kind of websites. The government should support the fight against this evil.”
Others are against the ban. Alphonse Diédhiou, another internet cafe manager. “I think every individual who walks into a cybercafé is conscious of and responsible for his actions. We cannot start monitoring everyone,” he says.
Hamidou Dia, 23, is a self-proclaimed fan of pornographic movies. “I think the government can ban these movies in theatres and internet cafés. But the idea of blocking adult websites altogether should be reconsidered. Today, people are free to watch adult movies at home,” he says.
The African Association for the Defence of Children’s Rights is fighting another battle: that of sensitising people and informing them about “the ravages” that are the result of visiting pornographic websites. “This is a violation of the country’s laws and regulations,” its president said, adding that “the perpetrators should be punished.” The NGO has also announced that it is currently circulating a petition and intends to visit various religious and opinion leaders in a countrywide awareness campaign around the dangers of adult websites.
With the petition, the association is calling on the Senegalese authorities to block access to pornographic websites. Last June, another NGO, the Association of Peace Ambassadors, also pleaded for the closure of adult websites and the ban of certain movies on national television. As it turns out, none of the contested sites are hosted in Senegal.
So far, the Senegalese- authorities have not intervened in the debate.