North East academics join fight over web porn

NORTH East academics have joined calls for an “urgent reform” over the legislation covering extreme pornography on the internet.

NORTH East academics have joined calls for an “urgent reform” over the legislation covering extreme pornography on the internet.

Prof Clare McGlynn, of Durham University’s Law School, is calling for a “legal loophole” to be closed in the wake of the convictions of both Stuart Hazell and Mark Bridger for murder.

In both cases extreme pornography was accessed on the internet before they both went on to murder young girls. Now campaigners are calling for a change in the law to prevent paedophiles being able to access sickening indecent images online.

Last night Prof McGlynn said they had joined a growing number of people to contact Downing Street calling for a legal reform and sent their suggestions to the Prime Minister.

She said: “The extreme pornography legislation is in urgent need of reform. The current law excludes the vast majority of pornographic images of rape.

“This is not a simplistic argument about rape pornography causing rape. It is undeniable that the proliferation and tolerance of such images contributes to a climate where sexual violence is condoned.

“Closing this loophole would not be difficult. Together with Erika Rackley at Durham University we have drafted changes to the law, and we believe that there would be huge public support for a swift change in the law. We await the Prime Minister’s response.”

Last month, the Old Bailey heard how Stuart Hazell, jailed for murdering 12-year-old Tia Sharp, had searched for vile indecent images of children on the internet using terms such as “violent forced rape” and “incest”.

And Mold Crown Court was told a file on Mark Bridger’s laptop, marked ‘Z0’, contained cartoon pornographic images depicting bound and gagged youngsters being sexually abused, as well as images of apparently dead youngsters. He was convicted of murdering April Jones.

The possession of rape pornography is already criminalised in Scotland where law-makers took its harm into account.

Rape Crisis South London campaigner Fiona Elvines, who has conducted research into what is currently available online legally in England and Wales, said: “The 2008 legislation on extreme pornography was brought in to address the way the internet had changed the distinctions between publishing, distributing and possessing some kinds of pornography.

“It intended to protect the public from harm by criminalising the possession of pornography. It is a serious omission not to have included images depicting rape and other non-consensual acts as they did in Scotland.

“This is not about making a distinction between real and simulated rape and child sexual abuse, with the latter being perfectly lawful to possess as long as it is ‘fantasy’ and actors are over 18.

“Permitting the possession of depictions of sexual violence as entertainment glorifies, trivialises and normalises such abuse – at a time when Government statistics estimate that 85,000 women and girls are raped each year.”

The letter to the Prime Minister also cites the recent report of the Children’s Commissioner on young people’s, especially boys’, exposure to pornography and its links to harmful attitudes and behaviours.

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