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Committee report on violent pornography ‘disappointing’

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Anti-porn advocacy groups worry children can access material
By Deborah Gyapong


Photo: Arnold Viersen.

The federal health committee’s June 9 report on the public health effects of violent and degrading pornography has left anti-porn advocacy groups disappointed.

“We are deeply disappointed in the majority report,” said Julia Beazley, director of public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). The EFC has been consulting widely on this issue.

“We believe violent and degrading pornography constitutes a public health crisis,” Beazley said. “It impacts child social and sexual development, it shapes sexual attitudes, behaviours and preferences, and it has links to rape culture and commercial sexual exploitation.”

“We had hoped the committee would undertake a thorough study of the issue that would, in the least, lead to strong recommendations for restricting access to this material by children, and to development of a comprehensive public awareness and education strategy to address the harms of pornography,” Beazley said.

“Defend Dignity educates widely on how pornography fuels the demand for paid sex, objectifies women, contributes to rape culture and is also harmful to the health of Canadians, especially children,” the organization said a June 12 release. “In spite of each of these experts clearly stating that education alone is not enough to protect children from the harms of sexually violent images; that the responsibility of protection should NOT rest with parents, the Health Committee recommendations are built almost entirely around education.”

“I’ve spoken with thousands of parents who are gravely concerned about how online pornography has negatively affected their children’s lives,” said Jared Brock from the anti-human trafficking group Hope for the Sold. “I see almost none of it reflected in this report, and I certainly don’t see anything in here that will significantly improve the situation.”

“This report is an insult by the men of the committee, delivered in a virtue-signalling and useless document that feigns concern while actually just taking the opportunity to push their own agenda rather than taking the meaningful action recommended by the witnesses,” wrote activist Jonathon Van Maren who followed the hearings closely.

“We’ll continue to ask the question – will anything that comes out of this report keep online sexual violence from coming into contact with nine-year-old children?” said Conservative MP Arnold Viersen, whose private member’s Motion M-47 led to the study.

Conservative members on the Canadian Standing Committee on Health issued a dissenting report that Viersen said comes closer to what he expected.

The majority report claimed “pornography itself lacks a common definition,” and interpretations of what is violent and degrading are “subjective.” It also contended studies do not show a causal link between viewing the material and adverse impacts, contrary to the evidence of many of the experts.

The majority report said “viewing sexually explicit material can have positive impacts in terms of promoting communication within couples about sexuality, as well as allow young people to learn about the different spectrum of sexual expression, and provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning, 2-spirited (LGBTC2+) communities with the opportunity to explore sexual activities outside of heterosexual norms.”

It recommended the Public Health Agency of Canada update the 2008 Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education to “address sexual health in the digital age, gender-based violence, consent, supplementary information for young people to learn about the different spectrum of sexual expressions and identities” in the LGBTC2+ communities.


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