Posted 11 May 2015
Although CamCheck focuses mainly on complementary medicines (CAMs), we occasionally put the spotlight on other scams or areas of concern we have, including so-called conventional or Western medicines. Sometimes we are alerted to other ways in which people may be misled therapeutically. One of these comes from the field of sexology.
This article, Sexologists battle over who is the real deal, written by Nombulelo Damba, published on 8 May 2015 in GroundUp, is one of those areas we just cannot but shine the spotlight on. GroundUp has given us permission to republish. Additional comments and notes are CamCheck’s responsibility. The article uses Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, “Cutting the Stone” from the 1490s, which as GroundUp states, “is a timeless reminder of the folly of quackery”.
Sexologists battle over who is the real deal
GroundUp 8 May 2015 – Nombulelo Damba
Two sexology institutes in Gauteng are in conflict with one another over who is offering a legitimate services versus who is operating illegally. And experts in the field say they are both in the wrong. Sexology is the “study of human sexuality, including human sexual interests, behaviors and function”.
The Academy for Sexology in Pretoria has been running for more than ten years offering courses on sexology. However it is not registered with any council or the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Marina Simpoulos-Basson and Lieb J. Van Rooyen laid charges against the institute in 2013. They have set up a competitive institute, Aidez Nous Collège de Sexologiae, which describes itself as a “unique practice focusing primarily on sexual health and well being.” However Simpoulos-Basson and Van Rooyen received their training from the Academy of Sexology run by “Professor” Johann Lemmer.
Last year New Age newspaper published an article in which the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) warned students against bogus colleges in Gauteng. The newspaper listed the Academy for Sexology as one such college.
Simpoulos-Basson confirmed that she and Van Rooyen opened a criminal charge against the Academy for Sexology but said they are not trading, only giving talks about sexology, which she says they are allowed to. “I will sue the person who said we are trading. Yes we opened a criminal case against Lemmer and the matter is in court. We realised that he was a fraud,” she said.[note note_color=”#e1faf9″]
Our comment: “Professor” Johann Lemmer appears, from his CV, to have a doctorate in Theology obtained from UNISA. The title “Professor” appears to have been awarded to him by the South Asia Institute for Human Sexuality (SAIHS) in 2008. He is still listed on the SAIHS’s website as such. We assume this is in fact a “visiting professorship”, as he is clearly not based in Pakistan. It also appears from the SAIHS’s website that its “Director and Professor”, DR. R. Y. Jalali, is in turn, “Professor of Sexology, Academy for Sexology, Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA”. Does Dr Jalali know that the Academy for Sexology is not an officially recognised academic institution in South Africa? But then the SAIH describes itself as “a non-profit, non-governmental and non-political organization.” It does not claim to be a recognised university or educational institution of the kind that has a professoriate. It seems that we have here a mutual conferring of “professorships” between NGOs.
This “academy” established by Lemmer in about 2002, and of which he is President, has continued to refer to him as “Professor” even though this is not usual academic practice. Although the owners of “Aidez Nous” state that they are only “giving talks” about sexology and not trading, their website states that they are a unique “practice” with “clients” – and provide “LGBT therapy“, “Marriage Counselling” where “we work with both individuals”, “Separation Mediation Therapy“, and help individuals . . . “by training mind, body, and soul”. (emphases added) There is no mention on the website of what their practice charges their clients for the therapy, counselling, work with, or training. We assume it is not “pro bono”. It is also to be noted that the Aidez Nous website is explicit that a “sex therapist or clinical sexologist is a master’s level therapist who offers sex counselling in a clinical setting. . .” However neither Lieb van Rooyen nor Marina Simpoulos-Basson are “master’s level therapists”. Van Rooyen has a Masters degree in Industrial Sociology; and Simpoulos-Basson has a BA in Psychology & Criminology from UNISA. Although she is “reading towards MA Sexologiae” she does not state with what institution. Could it perhaps be the “Academy for Sexology”?[/note]
She [Simpoulos-Basson] asked GroundUp to send questions via email, however she has not responded to them. Van Rooyen told GroundUp the matter is before the court pending finalization of the case by the DHET. He said a detailed press release will be made available upon finalization of the case.
The Council for Higher Education (CHE) is a statutory body. It is responsible for advising DHET and ensuring the quality of higher education qualifications. Dr Shaheeda Essack, Deputy Director of Private Higher Education in CHE, confirmed that the Academy for Sexology is not registered. She also confirmed that only DHET can approve a business to provide higher education.
This raises the question of the validity of the qualifications already awarded by the Academy for Sexology, even if it does become registered. Essack told GroundUp that degrees cannot be awarded retrospectively. This implies that past graduates of the institute might not be able to validate their qualifications.
The Southern African Sexual Health Association (SASHA) is a non-profit organisation established in 1999 with the “sole purpose of providing an Association that provides the beginnings of a statutory body for the protection of the public and health-care professionals that provide sexology and related forms of treatment and therapy.”
Dr Elmari Mulder Craig, President and Director of SASHA, said that her organisation is aware of the allegations. “We are very concerned about these so called training institutions. Lieb Van Rooyen has a Masters in Sociology and Marina Simopoulos-Basson a BA in Psychology and Criminology from UNISA as far as we know,” said Craig.
She said, “This implies that Simpoulos-Basson does not have an honours degree. Neither of these institutions [the Academy of Sexology and Aidez Nous Collège de Sexologiae] are registered with any professional council.”
Craig alleged that Simpoulos-Basson and Van Rooyen are breaking the law by presenting themselves as therapists or doing any therapeutic work with patients.
“Both of them ‘studied’ with Johan Lemmer from The Academy of Sexology, [which is] not a registered institution. They then realised that he and his academy are not what they expected and started their own thing. Currently, the Academy is trading illegally as it is not registered with the DHET nor any other statutory body as required by the Higher Education Act [and] the Regulations for the Registration of Private Higher Education Institutions,” she added.
She told Groundup that Aidez Nous Collège de Sexologiae has been in consultation with the Health Professions Council of South Africa to register sexology as a field under Medical Services but according to their knowledge it was not awarded. “The Academy of Sexology is not recognised by SASHA or the medical fraternity in South Africa as a credible institution. Johan Lemmer does not have any credibility in the field and his sexology training is being questioned,” said Craig.
“The DHET has made it clear that these degrees and subsequent designations will not be recognised.” Craig said this means that the Academy for Sexology is therefore awarding qualifications fraudulently and this could lead to prosecutions.
Responding to the allegations Lemmer said the Academy for Sexology has never pretended to be registered as a South African university or that it is registered with the Department of Higher Education. He said however that he is doing his best to register. “Personally, I regard the allegations in a very serious light. It is malicious, untrue, unconstitutional and it does a lot of harm to sexual and relationship health and well-being in South Africa,” said Lemmer.
Lemmer said that he’s aware of the charges against him but cannot talk about the matter while it is before the court. He said that the accusation that he is “trading illegally” needs to be defined to enable him to respond to the allegation. “Academy for Sexology has achieved a lot to enhance sexual health and well-being nationally and internationally to all people during the past 13 years. It has a track record for more than ten years of best practices and being fully transparent. Our students are at all times fully informed – both officially and unofficially,” said Lemmer.
He said, “Students have the constitutional right to make their own decisions regarding their education and their career development and where to study whatever they want. This includes the scientific study of sexuality in which educational opportunities are rare.” He said that his institute’s fees are as “low as 15% of market related studies.”
He said, “The Academy for Sexology never awarded or pretends to award any degrees.”
|[note note_color=”#e1faf9″]Our comment: Johan Lemmer is reported to have said: “The Academy for Sexology never awarded or pretends to award any degrees.” NOT TRUE! See: http://www.sexology.co.za/academy/degrees.html The “graduation” photograph below comes from Johann Lemmer’s personal website: https://profjohann.wordpress.com/full-cv/See also Lemmer’s comment about the Academy’s “graduated students” in 2011 email from him, below.[/note]|
He said that the Academy for Sexology continuously informs students of the current status of the process of getting accredited. “We have tried our level best since 2003 to get sexology accredited with South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) as well as with the DHET and have got proof in this regard.”
GroundUp asked a doctor why it is is important to have a registration system for sexology training institutes. The doctor said he was of the view that the HPCSA, which is responsible for overseeing the medical professions, would be the most appropriate body for sexologists to be registered with, and training should be SAQA accredited in an institution accredited by the DHET. He said, “If anyone can offer a course in sexology without proper oversight of the quality of training, patients can be put at risk if graduates of the course have not been taught properly. What if for example, a pituitary tumour or diabetes is causing the sexual issues? A sexologist cannot deal with that, but could do harm by trying to counsel the person and causing a delay in appropriate treatment.”[note note_color=”#e1faf9″]
Our comment: What would these sexologists know about the pharmacology of, for example, the phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (e.g. Viagra)? It is worth noting that in about 1977 the University of Cape Town’s Medical Students’ Conference was on Human Sexuality, with Professor Domeena Renshaw as keynote speaker. She presented both medical (organic) sexual problems as well as psychological sexual problems in the whole-person; and did not make artificial divisions.[/note]
End of GroundUp article
Further commentary: In December 2011 we wrote to “Professor” Johan Lemmer. Below is our correspondence :[note note_color=”#e1faf9″] To: [email protected]
Subject: Academy for Sexology
Hi, According to your website, you offer the following degrees:
1. Bachelor of Sexology (9 modules)
2. Master of Sexology (9 modules) – via BS
3. Master of Sexology (12 modules) –
4. Doctor of Sexology
I am most interested in these courses and it would be wonderful to be able to obtain a degree. In order to be recognised as bona fide degrees, I assume that your courses and academy have been registered with the appropriate South African accreditation centre? Could you please confirm this and supply the details please?[/note]
His reponse[note note_color=”#e1faf9″] To: XXXX
Subject: Re: Academy for Sexology
Please see attached Prospectus 2012 [/note]
Our reply to Lemmer[note note_color=”#e1faf9″] To: ‘Academy for Sexology’
Subject: RE: Academy for Sexology
Thank you for your prospectus.
I see that you have a “mandate” but you do not have a formal accreditation with any South African regulatory and accreditation bodies, which suggests that your degrees are not actually recognised in other parts of the world, e.g., UK, Europe and the USA. Is my understanding correct or can you guarantee that I will be able to utilise the degrees elsewhere?[/note]
His response[note note_color=”#e1faf9″] To: XXXX
Subject: Re: Academy for Sexology
1) The scientific studies of sexuality is a new (sic) discipline all over the world and cannot be compared with established disciplines.
2) We are well recognized by academic and professional colleagues all over the world due to our proven record, our high academic standards and our successful professional training of students over the past nine years.
3) Each of the many countries all over the world has their own policy regarding “accreditation” and professionalism.
4) Our graduated (sic) students are already playing a significant role in the professional world and are widely recognized for their contribution in sexology.
5) We are not recruiting students – they consider it a privilege to study sexology in order to enhance their knowledge and skills and on public demand.
6) Due to new international RPL policies as well as the high academic standard of our programmes none of our professional courses are in vain.
7) We strongly recommend any student who are in any doubt whatsoever not to study with us if they do not feel comfortable with the reality of the status of sexology as explained in our Prospectus 2012 and as explained in correspondence like this. We are not profit orientated but professional service delivery orientated for the sake of academic training, sexual health and well-being.
8) No we cannot guarantee the kind of traditional well-established sciences’ “accreditation” that you are looking or.
9) You are completely wrong in assuming that “that your degrees are not actually recognized in other parts of the world”
10) We appreciate your enquiry and we have answered it honestly and with integrity.
11) We do not know your agenda but we rely on your integrity and bona fides not to undermine the pure cause of the scientific studies of sexuality.
12) You are most welcome to study sexology in order to understand something about this discipline and to be informed regarding the high academic standards of our curriculum.[/note]