I introduced M-47 on March 8, 2016, on International Women’s Day.
Motion M-47 states:
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.
If this motion is adopted by the House of Commons, it would require the Standing Committee on Health to conduct a study on violent pornography. The last major federal study on the impact of pornography was in 1985 before the Internet was invented. A study would allow for a broad spectrum of stakeholders to be involved in developing future policy on this important issue.
- 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, especially to adolescents.
- Almost 90% of mainstream sexually explicit content feature violence towards women.
- 78% of women surveyed believe that sexually explicit material encourages society to see women as sex objects.
- Adolescents who viewed violent sexually explicit material were six times more likely to self-report engaging in sexually aggressive behaviour.
Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime
Rehtaeh Parsons Society
Native Women’s Association of Canada
Hope for the Sold
Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada
National Center on Sexual Exploitation
Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness
London Abused Women’s Centre
Caribou Child & Youth Centre's
Persons Against Non State Torture
Soroptimist International Club of Edmonton
Canadian Coalition to Empower Women
Child Pornography Hurts
Joy Smith Foundation
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
I believe that if we are to change the attitudes and behaviors that contribute to violence against women, we must start at one of the root causes. Easy access to messages and visuals online that condone violent pornographic templates for our youth is setting the stage for what is the "norm" when it comes to the treatment of females. If my daughter was treated as a human being, and not an object to conquer, she would still be here today. Societal messages directly influence rape and violence towards women.
Leah ParsonsB.A. MEd (Counselling)
Executive Director, Rehtaeh Parsons Society
“…with the issue of online violent sexualized content we have seen significant research that shows that generations, now of young people and young boys specifically, who are being exposed to explicit violent sexualized content that depicts the degradation and the dehumanization, objectification of women leads to increased violence…. As a mother, and as the Native Women's Association, we know how many times children accidentally stumble onto some of the most horrifying sexual violence on the Internet when they are innocently typing in something. To see that kind of long-term shaping of attitudes towards women and girls, which are based, and shaping of attitudes towards sex and shaping of attitudes towards relationships that then become based on violence, and we're seeing it more and more because of the violent content on the Internet that increasingly higher numbers of young children are being exposed to.”
Ms. Dawn Lavell-Harvard [Except from AANO Committee – April 12, 2016]
President, Native Women's Association of Canada
Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada supports this motion of M.P. Arnold Viersen presented to the House of Commons to instruct the Standing Committee on Health. It’s time to talk about the sexual exploitation of our children and take steps to safeguard them. Canadian parents must not be held solely responsible to protect their children from harmful sexual imagery. Families deserve more than an outdated 1985 report. With the advent of the Internet, we need to understand what is happening now and take measures to protect the most vulnerable, our children.
President, Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada
Half of all Canadian women over the age of 16 will experience at least one incident of physical or sexual violence. One of the most prevalent contributing factors is the availability and accessibility of violent and degrading sexually explicit material online. If we want to end sexual violence against women and girls, we must take action now, and Motion M-47 is an important opportunity to start this conversation.
Executive Director, London Abused Women’s Centre
We have dedicated the past 23 years of our professional nursing careers working to gain human and legal rights for individuals who have survived acts of torture, victimization carried out in the domestic or private sphere by individuals and groups, including by parents, extended family members, human traffickers, pornographers, pimps and johns, and other like-minded individuals.
Jeanne Sarson, MEd, BScN, RN & Linda MacDonald, MEd, BN, RN
Persons Against Non State Torture
As Past National President for BPW Canada and Chair of the Women’s Empowerment Committee and the Coalition to Empower Women, I would like to add the support of my committee to this Motion. The principles that we are promoting in this program is equality for women which cannot be achieved as long as there is easy access to online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men. We are working to change the attitudes towards women in the workplace and the community, including government and civil society, which includes attitudes towards sex and violence.
Doris E. Hall
Chair WEPs Committee/Canadian Coalition to Empower Women
Past President, The Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW Canada)
MP Viersen’s motion is extremely important, in that it opens up the very important conversation around the violence in online sexually explicit material and the impact it has on men, women, and children. This issue is truly one of the top concerns for families all across our nation. Parliamentarians have a responsibility to protect our citizens through responsible legislation.
Joy Smith, Former Member of Parliament
Founder of the Joy Smith Foundation
Follow the breadcrumbs of an 11-year-old who Googles "sex" on any computer or cell phone. Within a few clicks you'll discover that porn is not what it used to be. Relying on "Are You Over 18?" as a safeguard to keep children from accessing sexual violence online is clearly not enough (and that's what a porn star recently told us). When ten percent of 12 to 13-year-olds fear they are addicted to pornography, they're not talking about the magazines they found under their dad's bed. They're talking about multiple penetrations, money shot compilations, and women being punished - all in HD and available 24/7. This is the new mainstream. Motion M-47 could help us protect Canadian kids. We're in.
Jared and Michelle Brock
Founders & Filmmakers, Hope for the Sold
The impact of the widespread distribution of violent and degrading material on relational development, domestic violence, mental and community health needs to be more clearly understood and appropriately addressed by those elected to represent our communities.
K. Brian McConaghy
Founding Director, Ratanak International
Violent and degrading sexually explicit material is a public health crisis. It affects all dynamics of health - physical, psychological, emotional, and relational - and is having profound and detrimental effects on child social and sexual development. Further, its relationship to commercial sexual exploitation, rape culture, and the proliferation of child pornography are things society is going to have to address. The kind of study proposed by Motion M-47 will be critical to understanding those harms and finding ways to address them.
Director of Public Policy, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
[free-them] is in full support of MP Viersen’s Motion M-47 which calls on the Standing Committee on Health to examine the public health effect as a result from the violent and degraded nature of [online] sexually explicit material. The "online world" affects and plays an intricate part in our daily lives, both publicly and privately, through all kinds of social media platforms and endless apps that demand our attention. When we think of how much the Internet has evolved in the past five years alone, it is scary to think that the government has neglected to review and examine online sexually explicit material in over 30 years. Further becoming desensitized to, and overlooking the progression of, violence that is being produced in sexually explicit material and the ease of accessibility by our young people and children in today’s Technological Era. The need for an updated study to be conducted is vitally important.
As the founder of “Save My Generation” and as one who had been ensnared in the trap of pornography at the young of 8 years old, I believe that Motion M-47 will protect the men, women, and children of this country. If this motion were in action when I was introduced to pornography, I may not have been scarred as badly as I have been. I believe that it is time for Canada to turn to concrete action to protect the lives of my generation, which is what this motion has the potential of doing. Once passed, this motion is going to change and save lives in Canada. Thank you for leading our nation in the fight against the harmful effects of pornography.
Joseph Deschambault (11 years old)
Save My Generation
Violent and degrading sexually explicit material is having a devastating impact on society’s view of women and sexuality, and at a pace and degree never seen before. The last time Parliament looked at this was well before the Internet even existed. Every Canadian who cares about human dignity, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum, should not only support this motion, but also ensure that this topic remains a priority for Parliament until meaningful steps are taken. We look forward to seeing unanimous support from Parliament and swift cooperation by the Health Committee.
Executive Director, ARPA Canada
Today’s Internet offers wonderful benefits to both children and adults, but it also opens up access to misogynistic and sexually violent images, as well as to sexual predation. These images are easily accessible and available, and consequently pose one of the biggest threats to our children’s health and safety. Action must be taken to treat this issue as the public health crisis it is. Defend Dignity fully supports Mr. Viersen’s motion M-47.
Director, Defend Dignity
As a member of the board of Signal Hill, a life-issues educational non-profit based in B.C., I firmly believe that every person should be valued. But pornography not only devalues those who, through either inducement or force, are engaged in its production, but also degrades those who consume it. Pornography damages relationships by undermining intimacy, and also damages the health of those who consume it, not only by building barriers to social engagement but also by distorting sexual development. This is an issue of high importance for the men, women,and children of our country, and I congratulate MP Viersen for attempting to advance the study of it.
Past chair, current board member, Signal Hill (www.thesignalhill.com)
Councillor, City of Coquitlam
Please download the M-47 petition here. The petition can be signed by anyone in your community. Each time I tabled these petitions in the House of Commons, MPs are reminded about this important issue and encouraged to take action.
The Petition states:
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED RESIDENTS OF CANADA, draw the attention of the House to the following:
WHEREAS the majority of sexually explicit material features violence toward, and the domination, degradation and humiliation of women and girls;
WHEREAS the effects of the accessibility of violent and degrading sexually explicit material is matter of public health;
WHEREAS a child’s exposure to violent sexually explicit material is a form of child abuse;
WHEREAS Article 17 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, requires Canada to develop the means to protect children from forms of media that are ‘injurious to his or her well-being....’;
THEREFORE your petitioners call upon the House of Commons to adopt Motion M-47.
Five Easy Ways to Help Support M-47
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper or a national paper about the health impact of violent sexually explicit material and M-47.
- Talk to others about violent sexually explicit material and encourage them to make their voice heard.
- Write or email your Member of Parliament asking them to support Motion M-47. A sample letter is provided here: http://www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/m47
If you are unsure who your MP is, you can enter your postal code on the website of the Parliament of Canada. http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/index.asp
Remember all mail to a Member of Parliament does not require any postage. You can address letters using the following example:
Joe Smith, MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, ONK1A 0A2
- Contact the Prime Minister of Canada and the Health Minister to voice your support of Motion M-47.
Emails can be sent to:
Arnold.Viersen@parl.gc.ca (please copy me on your emails)
Letters can be addressed to:
Prime Minister of Canada
313-S Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ONK1A 0A2