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 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: http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/report-11
• CPC Dissenting Report: http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/report-11/page-78
• Committee Study Page with submitted briefs and testimony: http://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HESA/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=9311761
• Video – MP Harder in House of Commons on Report: https://youtu.be/B0NlrO9v1hc