The public health effects of violent and degrading sexually explicit material online have recently been studied by the parliamentary health committee, which made its report to Parliament June 12, 2017.
While the Health Committee report acknowledged that violent sexual images online may have public health effects, it did not seriously interact with the testimony of many of the expert witnesses who clearly outlined the range of harms to children, individuals and society.
The report’s few recommendations focus primarily on education, even though the committee heard from several witnesses that education alone was not enough. It recommends a national sexual health promotion strategy that would, among other things, address sexual health in the digital age and the “possible risks of exposure to online violent and degrading sexual imagery.”
The report falls far short of stating the harms to the health of children, women and men outlined by many of the witnesses and written submissions, and of calling for a comprehensive response from government to address these harms.
Over the past few months the EFC encouraged our supporters to write to their MP to ask them to encourage their colleagues on the committee to give this critical issue the thorough study it deserves.
Now we are calling supporters to write to the Minister of Health (sample letter), asking her to consider the full testimony of the witnesses as the government prepares its response to the Committee report. As well, we are asking the Health Minister to require age verification for pornography sites and to take steps to initiate further research on the public health impact of pornography.
You can also read a short interview about the report with Julia Beazley, the EFC's director of public policy.
The parliamentary study was initiated as a result of motion M-47 introduced by MP Arnold Viersen, which received unanimous consent and passed in December 2016.
Read the EFC’s brief to the health committee on M-47 and find out more information on our M-47 webpage.
We also offer new material to allow you to reflect on these issues as an individual or in a study group: DOWNLOAD our free new study guide, Battling Pornography.