Final report acknowledges role of violent porn in VAWG, need for age verification
The UK Home Office has released a report following its open consultation on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy 2021-2024. The report highlighted 'widepsread consensus about the harmful role violent pornography can play in violence against women and girls', with most respondents agreeing that an increase in violent pornography has led to more people being asked to agree to violent sex acts and to more people being sexually assaulted.
From the report:
Existing evidence examining the relationship between pornography and attitudes supporting violence against women and girls suggests for some individuals there may be a link between watching - in particular violent - pornography and aggressive attitudes or behaviours towards women. Evidence also suggests that young people who watch pornography are more likely to have unrealistic attitudes about sex and to hold less progressive gender roles (e.g. male dominance and female submission) with research drawing links between violent attitudes and exposure to violent media and pornography.
The report outlined the UK Online Safety Bill and proposed measures 'to prevent children from accessing content which poses the highest risk of harm to them' - including online pornography:
We expect companies to use measures that provide them with the highest confidence in the age of a user, for example, age verification. If companies do not use age verification technology, they will be required to demonstrate that their alternative approach delivers the same level of protection for children.
Highlighting women's lack of confidence in the justice system, respondents referred to 'very low rape prosecution rates' which they perceive as ‘decriminalisation’ of these offences.
In an effort to address exploitation and harm of women arising from prostitution, the UK Government announced a forthcoming, standalone strategy for Tackling Modern Slavery.
Read the full report here.
Originally opened in December 2020, Home Secretary Priti Patel reopened the consultation in March, following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard by Metro Police officer Wayne Couzens. The second phase of the consultation attracted an unprecedented 180,000 responses.
In our submission we focused on three key drivers - porn, objectification and prostitution - which fuel violence against women and girls, and urged the Home Office address these in its strategy.
We described the harms of pornography - the world's largest sex education department - which is teaching young men and boys that aggression and sex are inherently connected, and highlighted the urgent need for age verification systems to help protect children from exposure to online porn.
We elaborated on connections between objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in advertising, media and pop culture, and attitudes which tolerate and condone violence against women and girls.
In recognition of links between prostitution and violence against women and girls, we documented the ways in which decriminalisation puts women and girls at greater risk and commended the Nordic (Equality) Model of legislation to end sex buyers' demand and protect women and girls.
Click the image below to read our full submission.
Read our other submissions here.