SA petition against abusers
A South African organisation fighting for the rights of sexually abused children has started an international petition calling for a new ban on a Dutch paedophilia advocacy group.
Operation Bobbi Bear, together with Cambodia's Action Pour Les Enfants, is calling for the government of The Netherlands to enact legislation that will ban Martijn, an association promoting the legalisation of consensual sex between adults and children.
At least 400 organisations worldwide and the Cambodian royal family have signed the on-line petition.
In a statement addressed to the Dutch minister of safety and justice, Operation Bobbi Bear and Action Pour Les Enfants said their organisations had "experienced, first-hand, the disruption brought about by active paedophiles and other child molesters on victims, families, communities and society. Therefore we are deeply concerned by the unbanning of Martijn".
"Child sexual abuse and exploitation is not only a crime against an individual victim, it also has a severely negative impact on the families and communities confronted with this heinous crime. It therefore disrupts society as a whole.
"We feel obliged to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves. This includes children in The Netherlands and anywhere else in the world who are at risk of becoming victims of paedophiles and other child molesters."
The founder of Operation Bobbi Bear, Jackie Branfield, said yesterday that her organisation had to take a stand against Martijn given the high rate of child rape and sexual abuse in South Africa.
"Seeing rape, even among children, is becoming almost natural in South Africa, with 14-year-olds raping three-year-olds. We can't ignore what is going on in Europe because it filters down to Africa as well. Children around the world need to be protected and a group like this can get a strong following quickly. This takes freedom of speech too far," she said.
Martijn was formed in 1982 and has been in a legal battle with the Netherlands' public prosecution service since 2010.
In April, the Leeuwarden Appeals Court overturned the decision to ban the association because there was no evidence to prove it posed "a threat of disrupting society".
In a recent interview, the association's leader, Marthijn Uittenbogaard, said: "Almost everyone has paedophilic feelings in them.
"Some have more than others."
Uittenbogaard believes children over 12 years old are wise enough to choose to have sexual intercourse with adults.
The association once had 650 members but, during its legal battle, it dwindled to 60.