Action against pornography must be taken to help end the “epidemic” of male violence against women and girls, according to a multi-party group of MPs.
A substantial proportion of mainstream pornography features physically aggressive behavior by men against women, says a report from the group. The parliamentarians say there is ample evidence that the consumption of pornography encourages sexual violence and influences the behavior of viewers, or “sexual scripts”, as well as perpetuating racist stereotypes.
The report on the trade in pornography by the all-party parliamentary group on commercial sexual exploitation urges the government to change the law to address the harm caused by adult material. It says the upcoming online safety bill, which will require porn sites to ensure their users are not underage, does not address the availability of harmful adult porn content.
“What became clear during the course of this investigation is that we cannot end the epidemic of male violence against women and girls without confronting and combating the contributing role that pornography plays in fostering sexual objectification and sexual violence,” the report says.
It adds that illegal pornographic content, such as movies featuring child sexual abuse and rape, has been detected on some of the UK’s most popular adult websites.
“The lawlessness that characterizes the online sphere of the pornography trade is characterized by the finding that popular pornography websites post videos uploaded by members of the public without verifying that everyone in the video is an adult or that everyone in the video has given your consent to it. to be uploaded,” she says.
The dominant provider of online pornography in the UK is Mindgeek, which owns over 100 websites and production companies. It owns Pornhub, which was visited by 15 million UK adults, 50% of UK men and 16% of UK women with internet access, in September 2020 alone, according to the body. of communications control, Ofcom.
The parliamentarians’ report cites several studies of violence in pornographic content, including an analysis of heterosexual scenes on two leading sites that found that 45% of scenes on Pornhub and 35% of scenes on Xvideos contained at least one act of sexual violence. physical aggression.
Dr Michael Flood, a researcher on men, masculinities and violence prevention at Queensland University of Technology, told the MPs inquiry: “There is a wealth of evidence that exposure to pornography is shaping the sexual life of young people and adults, in a harmful and violent way. ”
The report recommends a number of legal and regulatory measures, including:
Making the regulation of pornography consistent across all online platforms, amid criticism that the Online Safety Bill has different approaches to sites hosting user-generated pornography compared to other pornography sites.
Require age controls to access adult material online.
Have online platforms verify that everyone appearing in pornographic content on their platform is adult and has given permission for the content to be posted.
A comprehensive government review of pornography and obscenity laws.
The online safety bill, due to be signed into law this year, will require sites to proactively address illegal content, such as child sexual abuse material, extreme pornography and revenge pornography.
A government spokesman said: “No child should be exposed to online pornography, which is why the Online Safety Bill will force any online platform that hosts it to implement robust measures such as age verification, to stop access by minors.
MindGeek declined to comment on the MPs’ report. Last week, the company announced a partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation, which monitors cases of child sexual abuse material around the world, to offer a blueprint for how the adult content industry can combat the problem online.
David Cooke, director of partnerships, trust and security at MindGeek, said: “The safety of those who use our platforms is our top priority, and we are committed to staying at the forefront of internet security.”