Recently Plan partnered with Our Watch to survey 600 Australian girls and young women between 15-19 about personal safety and gender equality.
The findings indicated that levels of abuse and online harassment are endemic.
Some of the key findings included:
• 58% agreed that girls often receive uninvited or unwanted indecent or sexually explicit material such as texts, video clips, and pornography
• 51% agreed that girls are often pressured to take ‘sexy’ photos of themselves and share them
• 82% believe it is unacceptable for a boyfriend to ask a girlfriend to share naked photos of themselves
As we travel around the country and speak in schools, we hear stories of young girls being pressured to send naked pictures of themselves to male classmates. Many girls ‘give in’ to pressure and reluctantly send the pic to make the harassment stop.
When we explain to these girls that it is actually a crime for classmates to continually harass them for a naked picture many are genuinely surprised.
The Plan survey also gave the participants the opportunity to offer their solutions:
Here is what some of the young women said about building healthy intimate relationships
“[I want] better education regarding sex for both boys and girls [and] information about pornography, and the way it influences harmful sexual practices.” Aged 15 years
“[Schools should] introduce [discussion of] pornography as part of the education as young boys are accessing it and thinking this is normal in relationships.” Aged 15 years
“We need some sort of crack down on the violent pornography that is currently accessible to boys and men. This violent pornography should be illegal to make or view in Australia as we clearly have a problem with violence and boys are watching a lot of pornography which can be very violent…This is influencing men’s attitude towards women and what they think is acceptable. Violent pornography is infiltrating Australian relationships.” Aged 18 years
This education to address the influence of explicit sexual imagery is available for secondary schools with a resource called ‘In the Picture’ by Maree Crabbe and David Corlett from the Reality and Risk project.
“In The Picture provides guidelines, suggested strategies and a wide range of practical resources from which schools can create a whole school approach to explicit sexual imagery that is tailored to suit their unique community and context.”
Their website has a range of resources for young people, parents, schools and community organisations. The latest initiative to come out of this project is the new documentary The Porn Factor that Collective Shout will be screening in Melbourne in June.
Clearly, this is a topic that cannot be ignored. More needs to be done to empower and equip young people to make wise choices that are healthy and respectful.
It is going to take a whole community approach to turn the tide of the tsunami that is porn culture.
Read more: See our 'Tips for Parents' page
Read the full Plan report here.