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Motion to study impact of violent porn wins all-party support

By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News


OTTAWA (CCN) — A Conservative MP’s private member’s motion to launch a study of the impact of easily available violent and degrading sexual content online has won all-party support.

MP Arnold Viersen’s Motion #47 would instruct the Standing Committee on Health to “examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men” and report to the House of Commons by July 2017.

Motion #47 came up for its first of two hours of debate Nov. 14. However, a vote on the motion will not take place until after its second hour of debate. This may not happen until after the Christmas break.

Viersen told the House he hopes such a study will “lead to better protection for youth online, foster the healthy sexual development of youth, and combat violence against women and girls.”

The first-time MP said he had not expected to bring forward this issue but was approached by many groups that urged him to do so. More than 40 groups ranging from women’s shelters to anti-human trafficking organizations to indigenous women’s organizations have endorsed the motion.

In researching the issue, Viersen said he was “shocked” at what he found. The images of naked women formerly associated with pornography have shifted to a market for explicit material featuring “violence and degradation.”

In Canada, the average age of first exposure to sexually explicit material for boys is 12,” Viersen said. “Sexually explicit websites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined, with PornHub, the largest free site, alone receiving over 21 billion visits in 2015.”

“Thirty-five per cent of all Internet downloads are sexually explicit. Globally, this sexually explicit material is a $97 billion industry. Almost 90 per cent of mainstream sexually explicit content features violence against women,” he said. “Sexually explicit material has become the primary source of information about sex and is a significant factor in influencing the sexual behaviours of children and adolescents.”

Viersen described the easy exposure of young people to the warped and degrading images as a form of child abuse. He said the aim of his motion was to take the “shared responsibility to see that young boys and girls grow up to develop positive attitudes on sexuality that foster dignity instead of objectification, and affection instead of coercion.”

The Parliamentary Secretary of the Government Leader in the House MP Kevin Lamoureux said the government will support the motion. Lamoureux said several ministers received notice of the government’s agenda to “develop and implement a strategy against gender-based violence” in the mandate letters they received from the prime minister last year.

Lamoureux said the government needed to look at finding ways to keep the industry that markets violent and degrading sexual material from growing and limit its reach.

“We owe it to our children. We owe it to our society to improve the Internet,” he said. “The Internet is a super fantastic thing, but there are some issues that need to be dealt with. This is just one of those issues, but one of the most significant, and it needs to be dealt with.”

NPD MP Brigitte Sansoucy said she would have preferred Viersen had put the motion before a committee rather than the House so work could begin right away.

“The NDP recognizes that the increasing ease of access to violent and sexual material online can be a problem for our society,” she said. “The consequences of accessing such material to male sexuality, such as erectile dysfunction, pushes men to watch ever more violent pornographic videos. Likewise, watching violent pornographic material might lower women’s self-esteem.”

“It has also been proven that individuals who watch such material could be more inclined to normalize sexual violence,” she said.

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