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