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Official News Release

Health Committee Report on Violent and Degrading Sexually Explicit Material Falls Short: Conservative MPs

June 15, 2017

Ottawa, ON — Last week, the Standing Committee on Health (HESA) tabled its study on the public health effects on men, women and children due to the easily accessible nature of violent and degrading sexually explicit online material. Despite compelling testimony by leading researchers, the Committee’s report largely ignored both this testimony and academic research that reveals the negative impact of this violent and degrading material on public health.

The committee heard evidence suggesting that violent and degrading online sexual content contributes to sexual violence against women and girls, that it is has been used to groom children for sexual abuse, and that it has a causal relationship to the increase in peer-to-peer sexual violence among youth.

“I am disappointed that the committee’s report ignores the majority of expert witness testimony made before the committee,” says MP Arnold Viersen. “These recommendations will do little to prevent youth from accessing violent and degrading material.”

“While the Prime Minister calls himself a feminist, this report demonstrates that the Government members, who form the majority on this committee, ignored expert testimony that violent and degrading sexually explicit material undermines the equality of women and girls in Canadian society,” said MP Rachael Harder. “Meaningful age-verification, like that used in the United Kingdom, as well as providing parents with better internet filters should be examined further to ensure that children and youth are given the best chance to develop healthy sexual norms.”

The Conservative MPs on the Committee submitted a strong dissenting report that highlighted key evidence that the committee report ignores, and put forward several recommendations advocated by the majority of witnesses and stakeholders

The government now has 120 days to reply to the report’s recommendations.

This study of the public health impact of violent pornography garnered the support of over 50 organizations representing a broad coalition of child advocacy agencies, women’s support centres, and victims’ rights organizations, and was the result of a unanimous vote by all political parties in the House of Commons in January of 2017.

• Official Committee Report
• CPC Dissenting Report
 Committee Study Page with submitted briefs and testimony
• Video – MP Harder in House of Commons on HESA Report

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Social Media

Ask your Member of Parliament and the Minister of Health to support a public health response that includes the key recommendations made to to Health Committee during its study on the public health impact of violent pornography.

These graphics can be used to communicate this on Twitter and Facebook. Tag your MP and the Minister of Health (@janephilpott).

Sample tweets:

  • Please help protect youth & prevent violence against women by developing a robust public health response to violent pornography. #cdnpoli
  • Please include recommendations like age verification & funding for more research on violent pornography. #cdnpoli

How You Can Help

Over the next 120 days, Canadians can ask the Minister of Health to incorporate recommendations with a focus on protecting youth and reducing violence against women and girls, such as:

• Introducing meaningful age verification
• Updating sexual health curriculum with warnings about pornography
• Working with industry to develop opt-in filters
• Providing funding for more research
• Developing a Public Health Awareness Campaign

 

Three Things You Can Do

There are three simple things you can do this summer to help advocate for a robust public health response to violent pornography.

  1. Write or email your MP and the Minister of Health. Hope For The Sold has a great template letter [here] or I would encourage you to write a personal letter that includes the recommendations.
  2. Sign a petition on age verification [download here]. The last petition you signed lead to M-47 being unanimously adopted. Now let’s call for the development of effective age verification technology.
  3. Tweet & Tag your MP and the Minister of Health using social media graphics [download here] created to communicate the importance of a robust public health response to the impact of violent pornography.

Together we are cultivating a Canada that upholds the dignity of women, combats violence against women and girls, and protects the spirit of our boys.

Thank you for helping to make a difference!


Health CMTE

Overview

On June 9, 2017, the Standing Committee on Health tabled its final report based on M-47.

The Health Committee held 4 hearings between February and April on M-47, heard expert testimony from 11 witnesses and received 23 briefs.

Unfortunately, the Health Committee’s report largely ignored evidence given by witnesses that revealed how violent pornography:

  • contributes to rape culture,
  • objectifies women,
  • has a major negative impact on sexual norms for youth,
  • is used to groom children for sexual abuse, and
  • causes peer-to-peer sexual abuse among youth.

As a result, the Committee’s recommendations to the Government do not reflect the recommendations made by witnesses to the Committee and will do little to protect youth from exposure to violent pornography.

The Conservative Party of Canada submitted a dissenting report that highlights the evidence that the main report ignores and makes stronger recommendations.

 

What’s Next

The Government has 120 days from the tabling of the Report to respond.  We hope that the Minister of Health will table a response that includes a commitment to a comprehensive public health response based on recommendations made by witnesses.


Overview

I introduced M-47 on March 8, 2016, on International Women’s Day.  Motion M-47 stated:

That the Standing Committee on Health be instructed 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, recognizing and respecting the provincial and territorial jurisdictions in this regard, and that the said Committee report its findings to the House no later than July 2017.

In the 10 months after M-47 was tabled in the House of Commons, Canadians from across the country got involved and as a result:

  • MPs from all five parties had endorsed M-47
  • Over 50 NGOs supported M-47
  • Over 7000 Canadians signed a petition

Quick Stats

 Adult sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined, with Pornhub alone receiving 21.2 billion visits in 2015.

  • 35% of all internet downloads are sexually explicit.
  • Globally, sexually explicit material is a $97 billion industry.
  • Average age of first exposure among boys is 12 years of age.
  • Sexually explicit material has become a primary source of information about sex and a significant factor influencing sexual behaviors for children and adolescents.
  • Parliament has not studied the impact of sexually explicit material since 1985 – before the Internet was invented.

 Key Issues

  • Easily accessible violent and degrading sexually explicit material is both a public health issue and a women’s equality issue.
  • Child and adolescent exposure to violent sexually explicit material is a form of child abuse.
  • 40 years of academic research has revealed that exposure to violent sexually explicit material is harmful to physical and mental health of individuals, especially adolescents.
  • Almost 90% of mainstream sexually explicit content features violence towards women.
  • Adolescents who viewed violent sexually explicit material were six times more likely to self-report engaging in sexually aggressive behaviour.
  • Youth who regularly view online sexually explicit material are significantly more likely to hold negative gender attitudes.

Support

By the time M-47 reached its final hour of debate in the House of Commons, it was supported by over 50 diverse organizations from across Canada representing women’s shelters, child advocacy and anti-human trafficking organizations.


Timeline

March 8, 2016 – M-47 tabled in House of Commons on International Women’s Day.

November 14, 2016 – First Hour of Debate [Click here to read]

December 8, 2016 – Second Hour of Debate [Click here to read]

December 8, 2016 – Unanimously adopted by House of Commons

February 7, 2017 – Health Committee begins study [Click here for study page]

June 1, 2017 – Health Committee adopts Report

June 9, 2017 – Report tabled in Parliament


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