> Latest booklets for download: Action Kit (Feb. 2021). Study guide How Porn Harms (rev. 2019). <
Today’s mainstream pornography depicts violent, abusive and degrading sexual activity. It is easily accessible and widely used. Viewing pornography can lead to compulsive behaviour and addiction. And it fuels other forms of sexual exploitation, such as prostitution and human trafficking.
Pornography promotes a distorted sexuality devoid of love, respect, genuine intimacy or self-giving. It teaches that people are products to be used and consumed and fosters sexual entitlement and selfishness.
Our human dignity flows from our creation in God’s image and His love for us. This compels us to respect and uphold each person’s inherent worth, and to not treat anyone as an object for our gratification.
Now is the time to speak out! Our most recent Action Kit (Feb. 8, 2021) tells how and why. Momentum has really picked up since 2021. For example:
- Ethics Committee recommends government take action to hold commercial pornography sites accountable (EFC blog post, June 28, 2021)
- Canada needs age verification for pornography websites (EFC video, June 8, 2021)
- Defend Dignity and partners held a free online summit May 6-7, 2021: Canadian Sexual Exploitation Summit
- You can help hold pornography sites accountable (EFC blog, Mar. 2, 2021)
- EFC submission to Parliamentary ethics committee on Pornography Platform Accountability (Feb. 26, 2021)
- A letter to the ethics committee signed by 104 survivors of sexual exploitation and 525 organizations from 65 countries, including the EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public Life, urges a full criminal investigation into MindGeek, the owner of Pornhub (Feb. 22, 2021)
- Urgent need to hold pornography sites accountable (EFC blog, Jan. 11, 2021)
- The EFC joined other activists against sexual exploitation in December 2020 in asking Visa and Mastercard to stop working with Pornhub out of concern about child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. PayPal ended its ties to Pornhub, which is based in Montreal, earlier this year out of similar concerns. On Dec. 10, 2021 both credit companies actually agreed to suspend their connections to Pornhub.
Recent government bills
- Private member’s Bill C-291 would change the wording in the Criminal Code from “child pornography” to “child sexual abuse materials.” It was introduced by MP Mel Arnold in June 2022. This more accurate language would ensure sexualized images of children aren’t legitimized in any way or associated with voluntary images of adults. The change underlines that no child can consent to sexual activity, and any such depiction is child sexual abuse.
- Bill S-210 An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit materials is a private member’s bill introduced by Senator Miville-Dechêne on September 30, 2020 as S-203, and more recently re-introduced as S-210. This bill will require commercial pornography sites to verify that consumers are adults in order to access their content. You can support this bill by signing a petition or sending a letter. See TheEFC.ca/S-210, where you can also see a brief the EFC submitted on the older version of this bill called S-203.
- Bill C-219 is a now defunct private member’s bill that would increase the penalty for sexual exploitation of a young person in a relationship of dependency or a person with a disability. It would also amend the Criminal Code to consider it an aggravating circumstance at sentencing if a victim of sexual exploitation had a mental or physical disability. This bill is no longer current but you can still read about it at TheEFC.ca/C-219.
Ongoing partnerships and action
Groups concerned about the harms of pornography often work together to highlight them each October. Check out Defend Dignity at Defenddignity.ca/event
or US resources from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation at EndSexualExploitation.org/wrap
The EFC continues all year round to raise awareness of the impact of pornography, including the public health effects of graphic, violent, sexual images.
The EFC works in partnership with Defend Dignity
, an initiative of The Alliance (Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination) to end sexual exploitation, holding events across Canada to raise awareness and educate about sexual exploitation, including prostitution, human trafficking and pornography.
Here is a sample letter you can use to ask your MP to take steps to address the harms of pornography (pdf
Defend Dignity also leads a campaign to ask specific businesses and municipalities that provide free Wi-Fi to filter out porn sites. Learn more at ChooseChangeCanada.org
The average age of first exposure to pornography online is between 11 and 13 years of age. For many, their formative sexual experience and education will be with the porn they encounter online.
Pornography is widely, freely available online. The use of the Internet and smartphones make pornography very easy to access, with little accountability. The making and distributing of porn is a multi-billion industry.
Sexual exploitation issues like prostitution, human trafficking and pornography are all interconnected. Pornography fuels the demand for paid sex and therefore exploitation.
Pornography has become more violent and degrading in the last decades. Aggressive and violent sexual activity that focuses on humiliating and degrading women is now mainstream in pornography.
There are serious public health impacts associated with pornography. Research shows the links between the use of internet porn and sexual violence, especially when it’s viewed at younger ages. People who consume porn are more likely to have a callous or adversarial view of sex, be accepting of sexual violence and non-consensual sex, and see women as sexual objects.
Pornography, except for child pornography, is dealt with under the Criminal Code offence of obscenity. Obscenity is defined as any publication that unduly exploits sex or portrays sex with violence, crime, horror or cruelty as its dominant characteristic. The courts decide when the exploitation of sex is “undue” by considering community standards of tolerance and the risk of harm from being exposed to the material. This definition is subjective and is interpreted very narrowly, allowing much to escape the definition of obscenity.
Possessing and distributing child pornography is a separate offence. Section 163.1 of the Criminal Code defines child pornography as any representation of explicit sexual activity involving someone who is under 18 or depicted as under the age of 18, other visual representations of a sexual nature of a person under 18, and material that advocates illegal sexual activity involving underage persons. Material that violates these laws is readily available online.
Download our free study guide How Porn Harms (revised 2019).
Read a short interview about the government's disappointing 2017 study report (June 2017).
Pornography focuses only on the sexual dimension of human nature to the exclusion of all else. This creates a distorted view of both men and women, and robs each of their proper place and value in society.
Porn treats women as sexual property and legitimizes humiliating women and using force against them. Treating a person as sexual property violates human dignity. Each person has inherent human dignity that flows from God’s creation of humans in His image (Genesis 1:26-27), His love for us and Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Sexual intimacy is one of God’s gifts, but it becomes distorted and self-centred in pornography. Porn teaches that sex is detached from love, intimacy, mutuality and respect. It teaches that sex is impersonal and adversarial, and that violence in sex is normal and desirable.
God has created us to live in families and form communities that care for each other. Porn robs people of the ability to connect, relate and be intimate in real life. People who consume porn are more likely to have a callous or adversarial view of sex, be accepting of sexual violence and see women as sexual objects.