The National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-32 was released today.
The Plan reports that while fewer Australians hold attitudes that support violence against women, prevalence has not decreased significantly during the last 12 years and reported rates of sexual assault continue to rise with an increase in violence in all settings. Women and girls “are exposed to the risk of sexual violence in every domain of their lives”, the Plan states.
We welcome the recommendation of a stand-alone First Nations National Plan to address the unacceptably high rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.
We are also pleased to see the strong statement on pornography as a driver of violence against women in contributing to sexist, misogynistic and degrading views about women - which we have documented for a decade (see our submission to the Plan here). The harms inflicted on the partners of men who consume porn are also documented in the new Spinifex Press release "He Chose Porn Over Me": Women Harmed By Men Who Use Porn by our Movement Director Melinda Tankard Reist.
The Plan acknowledges that "Pornography often depicts physical and verbal aggression towards women, male dominance and female submission, and non-consensual behaviours”. It contributes to a view of women as “sex objects", "acceptance of myths about rape” and victim-blaming attitudes.
“Viewing pornographic material that showcases violence can have negative impacts on a young person’s development with regard to their wellbeing and relationships and it can influence their attitudes and beliefs about sex, intimacy and consent,” the Plan states.
The Plan cites The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children which found “the more often young men consume pornography, the more likely they are to enact sexual behaviour that the other person does not want”.
“With pornography now overwhelmingly consumed online and via mobile devices, it is both prevalent and pervasive, perpetuating sexist, misogynistic and degrading views about women."
The Plan recommends addressing "the role of pornography and social media in contributing to harmful sexual behaviours and reinforcing stereotyped attitudes among adults, children and young people.” [Appendix 1, Prevention]
However there is no detailed strategy for how to do this.
The Federal Government could start by ensuring plans for an Age Verification system to help protect children from exposure to pornography are not derailed by the vested interests of the sex industry. The previous Government had instructed eSafety to come up with a roadmap by December for the rollout of proof-of-age protections, however the sex industry has expressed opposition.
Girls in schools tell us of daily experiences of sexual harassment, groping, demands for nudes and being subjected to sexual moaning noises by boys. Boys are pressuring girls to engage in the sex acts they have seen in porn. This will only worsen if we fail to put the wellbeing of young people before sex industry profits (see 'Boys threatening girls with rape unless they send nudes' - MTR in news.com.au).
We note also that there are no explicit plans to address violence against women in the sex industry.
Lyn Swanson Kennedy: [email protected]
Melinda Tankard Reist: [email protected]
October 17, 2022