Thursday, May 8, 2008

Britain outlaws "extreme" adult porn

(Originally Posted 5-4-08)
Britain is about to pass an act which will add "extreme porn" to the list of criminalized pornography along with child porn and bestiality. It is scheduled to be a criminal act with a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment and a place on Britain's Sex Offenders' register. In short, it will create a new class of banned pornography . The British Government expects to prosecute about 30 people a year.

A petition signed by around 50,000 people objecting to extreme internet sites promoting violence against women in the name of sexual gratification was presented to Parliament.

The petition presented to parliament was started by Liz Longhurst after the brutal murder of her daughter. Thirty-one year-old Jane Longhurst, a special needs teacher, was raped and strangled with a pair of tights by a male acquaintance in 2003. Graham Coutts, an amateur musician, attacked her just hours after surfing the web to feed his alleged obsession with necrophilia and asphyxial sex. Coutts stored her naked body for 35 days before trying to burn it in woods. He was convicted in February 2004 and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
Coutts' conviction was later overturned and downgraded to manslaughter, but there was a second trial and conviction which ended in resentencing to life without parole eligibility for 26 years last July 4.

The Government said it aims to legislate as soon as Parliamentary time allows. The new offence will apply to England and Wales, and plans are being made to extend it to Northern Ireland. The consultation last August was held jointly with the Scottish Executive which will announce its response in due course.

Many groups are uncomfortable with it because no other Western democracy has banned porn other than child porn, and the depictions scheduled to be banned include simulated acts of violence and degradation. Two of these groups are Backlash UK and See No Evil. Another problem is that many banned porn pictures include legal acts between consenting adults, albeit edgeplay ( a term common in the BDSM community).

Supporters of such a ban state that extreme adult porn and child porn should be treated the same, because of the depictions of degraded and tortured women. This group states that

"Adult porn in its extreme forms should be considered in the same way that child porn is - a record of sexual abuse."

The act with its most recent changes, can be seen here. Britain seeks to pass this law before May 9.

In the most extreme cases, I agree that just like child pornography is the record of a child being abused for someone's sick pleasure, the actual, not simulated rape of a woman is the record of adult sexual abuse. If actual women are raped and tortured, and authorities are able to prove that is the case, then extreme adult porn should be treated exactly the same as child porn, with the same penalties and concern for the victims. If however, the acts are staged, and it's proved that all participants are over 18 and were not harmed, then there should be no criminal prosecution, let along a maximum 3 year jail sentence. People should not be criminalized for images of consensual material among consenting adults.

(Update 5-8-08) Britain has passed the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, which was signed into law (or in British terms, received royal assent.) Article 63 of this legislation deals with extreme porn.

Jane Longhurst, 31, was strangled by Graham Coutts, 39, from Hove, Sussex. He was jailed for at least 26 years.

Her Berkshire mother Liz, backed by Reading West MP Martin Salter, campaigned for three years to ban violent online porn.

The new act is part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.

Possession of sexually violent images will now be punishable by up to three years' in jail.
The bill had its final reading on Thursday - there are seven stages before it is made law - where it received Royal Assent.

Under the new rules, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer - who is responsible under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act (OPA) - to the consumer.

Mrs Longhurst, of Reading, Berkshire, was unavailable for comment but during an interview last October she told the BBC News website: "Some people are utterly against anything that prevents them from doing anything they want.
"What is right for one person is not necessarily for another.

"People can sully the furniture in their mind with this vile filth."

Mr Salter said the campaign was not a "moral crusade" but targeted the "violent end of the market - material that was already illegal but with the advent of the internet was unregulated".

"This is the combination of a three-year campaign waged by Liz Longhurst and myself, which garnered the support of church groups, women's organisations, 189 MPs, and generated 50,000 signatures on a national petition. The campaign involved meetings with two home secretaries, debates in Parliament, even speeches at the Womad Festival in Reading. There was very little opposition to the proposals.

The Royal Assent is a fitting tribute both to our campaign and to the life of Jane Longhurst who was tragically murdered by a self-confessed addict to violent pornography."

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