October 23, 2018

Members of Parliament Say Porn Should be Treated as a Public Health Hazard

Members of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee in the UK Parliament have released a report calling on the government to address pornography as a public health hazard, in the context of reducing sexual harassment and assault against women.

While the United Kingdom has taken steps to reduce childhood exposure to pornography in the past, the report criticized the UK government for having “no plans to address adult men’s use of mainstream online pornography, despite research suggesting that men who use pornography are more likely to hold sexist attitudes and be sexually aggressive towards women.”

As reported by the Daily Mail, “The MPs insisted ‘public places must be made safe for all women and girls’ as they called for a ban on viewing adult material on mobile phones on buses…And the committee also criticized social media firms such as Twitter and Facebook, noting: ‘Online spaces are public places where sexual harassment of women and girls is rife’.”

Dr. Maddy Coy was cited in the report, stating: “the findings are consistent across individual studies and the meta-analysis that pulled them together that there is a relationship between pornography consumption, attitudes that support sexual violence and likelihood of committing sexual violence”

One woman told the committee’s researchers that she believed the government should recognize that pornography is a public health risk and should be addressed “in the same way the amazing effort by the Government worked in turning people’s attitudes around regarding smoking.”

The Daily Mail summarized the committee’s blueprint for change as follows:

  • Penalize social media firms who don’t clamp down on sexual harassment
  • Tougher laws on revenge porn
  • Consult women’s groups before licensing strip clubs
  • Consider making misogyny a hate crime
  • Give films which depict ‘normalised sexism’ a higher rating
  • Set out plans to make public places safe for women and girls
  • Campaigns to tackle attitudes that underpin sexual harassment
  • Ministers to treat porn as seriously as smoking or reckless driving
  • A ban on viewing porn on phones on buses
  • All trains should block adult material from their wi-fi networks

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has an on-going campaign titled “Pornography: a Public Health Crisis” which synthesizes research and raises awareness around the harms of pornography to the brain, body, relationships, rates of sexual violence, and more.

Through a model resolution written by NCOSE, seven U.S. states have now declared pornography a public health crisis.

You can download the Pornography & Public Health: Research Summary here.

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.

Further Reading

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