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Public fears porn inspiring sexual violence - new poll

Online Safety
18 October 2021
Everard protest

Press release: For immediate release, 18/10/21, CARE

6 in 10 UK adults fear internet pornography is inspiring sexual violence against women and girls, and most want tougher curbs on vile content, polling shows.

A Savanta ComRes poll commissioned by the charity CARE found that 6 in 10 UK adults agree with the statement: “I am concerned that pornography is inspiring sexual violence against women and girls.” Only 1 in 10 disagree.

7 in 10 adults also agree that: “The government should stop websites publishing extreme pornography that portrays violence or non-consensual sex”, with less than 1 in 10 respondents disagreeing.

Female respondents were more concerned that porn is motivating sexual violence (7 in 10) than males (5 in 10). However, both sexes strongly agreed on the need for tougher curbs on porn sites (8 in 10 and 7 in 10 respectively).

Growing alarm

Fears about the links between violent pornography and sexual crime have spiked in recent weeks in the wake of tragic cases like that of Sarah Everard, whose killer was obsessed with 'rape pornography'.

A growing body of evidence from front line workers helping victims of sexual crime, educationalists and members of the judiciary also warns about the link between consumption of extreme pornography and sexual crime.

Tougher action needed

Nola Leach, CEO of CARE, which agitates for tougher regulation of pornography sites, said the “strength of public feeling” coupled with evidence of porn’s harms must inspire proper regulation of the porn industry:

“The links between extreme pornography and sexual violence are becoming clearer and clearer. Pornography has been implicated in a host of tragic cases involving the rape and murder of women in recent years. It is described as a contributing factor by those working with victims of sexual violence across the UK. And it has been named as a motivator of sexual harassment in schools.

“On top of this evidence, our polling shows that the public at large is concerned about the impact extreme pornography is having and supports action to curb porn providers. The strength of public feeling on this, coupled with evidence of porn’s harms, must lead to concrete action by parliamentarians.”

CARE argues that measures already on the statute book can be enforced to bring “protection to the vulnerable”. Ms Leach added:

“In 2017, parliament passed safeguards designed to prevent children accessing all commercial pornographic websites and to tackle extreme content on porn sites. These measures were supported by women’s groups and children’s charities. However, Ministers scrapped their plans to implement these safeguards in 2019, leaving children and women unprotected during the pandemic when online usage has increased.

“The UK Government has since brought forward new online safety proposals. However, these plans are nowhere near as robust as the previous measures, in Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act. It is not at all clear which websites would be covered by the legislation. There is no requirement to block sites that host extreme pornographic content. And it is not clear if porn sites will be subject to age verification safeguards.

“Then there’s the fact that it will take years before the new Bill is passed, possibly not until 2024 which means women and children will continue to miss out on this protection for some time. To provide this protection as soon as possible, Minsters can implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act. We urge them to do this now while Parliament debates the new legislation.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

For interview requests or more information please contact Jamie Gillies: jamie.gillies@care.org.uk

Polling results breakdown

[CLICK HERE]

Evidence that porn is fuelling sexual crime

[CLICK HERE]

UK public supports age checks on all porn sites

[CLICK HERE]

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