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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SA Human Rights Commission to investigate tone-deaf, racist ads

18 October 2021

Racist, sexist, tribalist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and ableist advertisements will be under the spotlight. Picture: Wikimedia Commons The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will be convening to look into allegations of racial discrimination within the advertising industry. Inquiry into racist ads The SAHRC said the inquiry “comes on the back of the publication of advertisements that have caused an uproar from within the industry and society because of racist undertones”. The inquiry will be hosted in order to avoid the publishing of “another tone-deaf, racist or discriminatory advert”, the commission said. This also includes the publication of sexist, tribalist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic or ableist advertisements. Instead, the commission said, the focus should be one ensuring the promotion of the respect of human rights, as well as the protection, development and attainment thereof. “The commission will undertake an investigation, into, amongst other aspects, the creation and publication of adverts and the people involved”. Once the inquiry has been settled, the commission will draft medium-to-long-term interventions for the entertainment industry.

Racist TRESemmé ad A TRESemmé advert caused outrage back in 2010 when it described images of white women’s hair as “fine and normal”, while that of black women as “dry and damaged”. At the time, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) protested at more than 400 Clicks stores and planned a week-long shutdown. Following a meeting with Unilever SA, the consumer goods company confirmed it would withdraw TRESemmé products from all retail stores for a period of 10 days. Public partricipation The inquiry is expected to sit in the last week of February 2022. Members of the public – including advertising agencies, retailers, regulatory bodies, marketers, organisations, government departments and interest groups – are invited to comment. Submissions may be submitted via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., faxed to 011-403-0668 or hand delivered to 1st Floor, 27 Stiemens Street, JD House, Braamfontein.

Source: The Citizen

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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