Earlier this week, online (gaming and entertainment) news outlet Kotaku named Collective Shout’s submission to the review of Australian Classification laws one of the review’s “most important submissions”. Collective Shout was listed among other organisations and corporates that Kotaku called “main players” in the review, including the Australian Council on Children and the Media, Google, Disney and Netflix.
Kotaku cited our recommendations, including our push for an urgent investigation ‘into the Classification Board assigning M or MA15+ ratings to anime and manga genres featuring Child Sexual Abuse Material contrary to Australian law’.
In our submission we highlighted
- the need for an evidence-based approach informed by research that demonstrates the harms of sexual objectification;
- pornography should no longer be treated by default as ‘adult content’, but as commercialised sexual exploitation;
- reliance on parents to control what their children access is unrealistic;
- child and youth development experts who can advise on the ‘possible impact of content with sexualised content or messaging’ should be included in the new regulatory process.
We warned against a self-regulated model, using the failures of the self-regulated advertising industry and its overseeing body, Ad Standards, to uphold community standards and the industry’s Code of Ethics to emphasise the need for an overseer which has powers to enforce rulings.
Read our full submission here.
Media Release: Classification Board approves movies depicting child rape - Collective Shout calls on Communications Minister Fletcher to urgently intervene
Collective Shout has called for an overhaul of Australia’s classification system and a review of recent Classification Board determinations following discovery of illegal animated child sexual abuse material depicting child rape, abuse and exploitation which the Board classified as suitable for audiences as young as 15 - in some cases even younger.
South Australian Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff exposed the Board’s deeply disturbing failure to exercise its responsibilities under Australian law in a speech in the Senate Tuesday followed by a Senate motion yesterday.
Senator Griff described anime movies depicting “wide-eyed children, usually in school uniforms, engaged in explicit sexual activities and poses, and often being sexually abused." He called for an immediate review of all Japanese anime movies accessible in Australia.
The Commonwealth Criminal Code prohibits the sale, production, possession and distribution of offensive and abusive material that depicts a person, or is a representation of a person, who is or appears to be under 18.
Senator Griff cited a number of anime series featuring the sexual abuse of children. One of these, Sword Art Online depicts the rape and sexual assault of children. It was given an unrestricted M rating by the Classifications Board, despite the fact it constitutes illegal child exploitation material. According to Senator Griff, the character Asuna is raped by her captor Sugou, who threatens to also rape her in the real world, where she is lying in a hospital room in a catatonic state. Sugou says he will make a recording of the virtual rape to shame her.
Senator Griff said that the Classification Board justified the M rating in its report, stating that the nudity through the film is 'moderate in impact' and 'justified by context'.
We would like to know how Board members could possibly justify the sexual violation of children for entertainment as justifiable in any way.
Other anime series depicting sexual abuse of children as well as strong incest themes were given an MA 15+ rating by the Board, despite also featuring illegal content. In Goblin Slayer children are portrayed as frightened or resisting - at the same time enjoying the sexual abuse inflicted on them.
“The Board has made child sexual exploitation material available for purchase in Australian retail outlets - including mainstream stores like Sanity”, Movement Director Melinda Tankard Reist said. “This has allowed a paedophilic culture to flourish. How can we claim to care about the epidemic of child sexual abuse when child sexual exploitation material is given the tick by our so-called regulatory body?”
Our experience working with child sexual abuse survivors and clinicians supports Senator Griff’s statement that this material is “a gateway to the abuse of actual children” and can be used as a grooming tool to normalise abuse.
“This matter must be immediately referred to the Australian Federal Police,” Tankard Reist said. “And Communications Minister Paul Fletcher needs to take charge of this failed government agency and investigate how it could allow this content to be permitted contrary to Australian law”.
In its submission to the current review of Australian Classification Regulation, Collective Shout provided detailed evidence of systemic failures of the Board over a decade and called for its complete overhaul. Its approval of child sexual exploitation material is just the latest example of a broken system.
Melinda Tankard Reist
[mtr at collectiveshout.org]
[caitlin at collectiveshout.org]
27 February 2020Read more
Classification system fails to protect women and girls: immediate action needed to stop pornification of teen girls for profitRead more
Film depicting extreme sexual violence now banned in Australia
Some time ago we received an email from a member of the community concerning the screening of 'A Serbian Film' at an underground Melbourne Film Festival.
This person expressed concern that a film depicting extreme sexual violence and child rape would be allowed to screen in Australia and wondered if there was anything we could do.
Allowing images that depict children as keen for sex makes them more vulnerable to abuse and violence. Partially covering titles makes no difference. These magazines don't need tighter ratings, they shouldn't be sold at all.
A recent check of 38 magazines in corner stores in three Melbourne suburbs by Julie Gale of Kids Free 2B Kids, a group committed to raising community and corporate awareness about the early sexualisation of children, shows the titles have been wrongly classified or should have been ruled "RC - Refused Classification" because of explicit content involving girls who are, or are depicted as, minors.
It appears our Classification Board hasn't just fallen asleep at the wheel - it never even got into the car.
The Classification Board has given the titles quoted here "serial classification", which means instead of having to clear each issue, the publishers get a two-year approval, Gale complained to the Board.
It then decided to audit three titles, among 30 imported by David Watt. Board Director Donald McDonald admitted in a letter to Gale that they had been wrongly classified.
"In the Board's view, the contents of the audited publications Purely 18 and Live Young Girls would exceed the classification of Category 1 restricted, granted by their respective Serial Classification Declarations," the letter said.
"When auditing the issue of Live Young Girls, the board noted that one advertisement included in the magazine warranted an RC classification. The advertisement is an offensive depiction of a person who is, or appears to be under 18."
So what tough action does the Board take next?
Well, it asks the distributor to write a submission arguing why it should be allowed to keep the serial classification ruling and sends a community liaison officer to explain the rules.
If this material is allowed to be sold - and sold so openly - the Classification Board is sending a message that its OK to want sex with real “live young girls”. It's time for the State and Federal Attorneys-General to intervene and stop it.
These people have been importing porn for a very long time. They should know the rules by now. And all they get is a visit from the community liaison officer, maybe even with a nice cup of tea. Has anyone called the police?
Gale's first letter to the Classification Board was sent on July 31 this year but it was only this week that BP and Shell service stations were required to remove the magazines from more than 600 outlets around Australia.
How many other mistakes have the Board made over the years these titles have been sold? Someone needs to audit the Board.
In the meantime, let's join together in wishing The Australian Sex Party a very short life.Read more