News

Extreme Porn: Women’s Groups welcome Prime Minister’s commitment to amend the law

22 July 2013

Responding to the announcement by David Cameron today (22 July) that the Government will criminalise the possession of ‘rape pornography’, Rape Crisis South London and legal experts, who have been running a campaign to criminalise ‘rape pornography’ in England & Wales, said the following:

 

Fiona Elvines of Rape Crisis South London, who has researched the scale and content of ‘rape porn’ said:

 

“We are heartened by the government's announcement that it will close the loophole in existing extreme pornography legislation to include pornographic simulations of rape. Rape Crisis Centres such as ours understand first-hand the devastating impact of sexual violence on those who survive it, as well as horrific detail of the tactics and actions of the perpetrators.

“The government today has made a significant step forward in preventing rapists using rape pornography to legitimise and strategise their crimes and, more broadly, in challenging the eroticisation of violence against women and girls.”

Professor Erika Rackley of Durham University said;

"I welcome the announcement that the Government intends to take steps to ensure that the possession of all pornographic images of rape is criminalised, which will bring the law in England and Wales into line with that in Scotland where rape porn is already considered 'extreme pornography'.”

Professor Clare McGlynn of Durham University said;

“I would welcome the opportunity to work with the government to ensure the reformed law carefully targets rape porn and is effective. The extreme porn law can be swiftly amended to send a clear message that rape should not be a form of sexual entertainment. Reform of the extreme porn law represents an important shift in priorities away from consensual activity to challenging the sexualisation
of violence against women.”

Holly Dustin, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:

“We are delighted that David Cameron has responded to the call by experts and women’s groups to ban pornographic images of rape that promote and eroticise violence against women. The Coalition Government has pledged to prevent abuse of women and girls, so tackling a culture that glorifies abuse is critical for achieving this. The next step is working with experts to ensure careful drafting of the law and proper resourcing to ensure the law is enforced fully.”

 

The Government’s announcement follows a campaign to #banrapeporn lead by Rape Crisis South London and Professors McGlynn and Rackley, which has seen an online petition acquire more than 72,000 signatures of support in a month. The campaign was stepped up following great public concern after the convictions of murderers Stuart Hazell and Mark Bridger who had searched for such material.

 

Experts are available for comment and interview.

 

Background – The Campaign to criminalise ‘rape pornography’:

Rape Crisis South London, supported by legal experts from the University of Durham, recently launched a campaign to persuade the Government to amend the existing extreme pornography legislation to criminalise the possession of ‘simulated’ rape pornography – porn which depicts the rape of ‘teens’ and ‘schoolgirls’ as well as adult women. Such material is currently legal if the actors are aged 18+. The same legislation criminalises porn depicting bestiality or necrophilia.

 

Rape Crisis South London and 100 others wrote to the Prime Minister on 7 June urging him to urgently close a loophole in the extreme pornography legislation in England & Wales which permits the possession of pornography depicting rape.

 

Recent research by Rape Crisis South London found that, of the top 50 accessible ‘rape porn’ sites found through a Google search, 78% advertise content depicting simulated rape of under 18 year olds (eg “schoolgirl rape”). Of the top ten Google search results for ‘free porn’ half the websites host free rape pornography.

 

The letter to David Cameron referred to the recent convictions of Mark Bridger and Stuart Hazell, who had both used violent and misogynistic pornography as part of their murders of young girls, and drew attention to the fact that the possession of rape pornography is already criminalised in Scotland where law-makers took its harm into account when legislating.

 

Research conducted by Rape Crisis South London into freely available online ‘rape porn’ found descriptions including ‘young schoolgirls abducted and cruelly raped. Hear her screams’; ‘little schoolgirl raped by teacher’; ‘tiny girl sleep rape’; and ‘girl raped at gunpoint’. A breakdown of the research is available on request.

 

The letter to the Prime Minister also cited the recent report of the Children’s Commissioner on young people’s, especially boys’, exposure to pornography and its links to harmful attitudes and behaviours.

 

A letter to the Prime Minister signed by more than 100 women’s, parents and other groups can be found at:

http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/media-sexism

 

ENDS

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