Age verification online – now is the time!

Discussion of alleged sexual assaults and harassment have dominated the media in recent weeks.  This has included coverage of allegations of the sexual assault experiences of young Australians collated on the Teach Us Consent website.

As prominent campaigner, and speaker at the upcoming Christian Schools National Policy Forum, Melinda Tankard Reist indicates in a recent article for the ABC, the contribution to these problems by the pornography industry is clear –

 

The porn industry is a mammoth dispenser of sexualised violence and misogyny; it is the world’s most powerful sexual groomer. Boys see girls as something to act-out on rather than fully engage with. Of course, we already knew about unhealthy expressions of masculinity, harmful patterns, and too narrow expectations of behaviour. But the porn industry takes pre-existing harmful codes of masculinity and entitlement and turbo-charges them.

Why “consent” doesn’t stand a chance against porn culture

In 2019 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs undertook an Inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography.  In our submission we welcomed the consideration of age verification measures as a first step in addressing the problems of online wagering and online pornography. We were heartened to see in the Committee’s Report, Protecting the Age of Innocence, released in February 2020,  the recommendation that age verification be mandatory for access to online pornography.

While we understand that the priority of dealing with the COVID pandemic was the Government’s priority last year it is clearly time that action was taken to implement this recommendation.

We have written to the Prime  Minister and a range of other key Ministers today calling on the Government to introduce legislation to require mandatory age verification before online pornography can be accessed.  As we indicated in our letter –

 

It is vital that the Commonwealth Government provide clear leadership in addressing these issues of sexual assault and harassment.  The immediate introduction of legislation to put the recommendations of the Standing Committee’s report into effect and introduce age verification would demonstrate the Government’s commitment to provide such leadership.

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