Conservative MP Arnold Viersen put forward a motion for the government to study the public impact of pornographic material. Photo courtesy of Arnold Viersen

Motion to study violent porn impact wins all-party support

By 
  • November 18, 2016

OTTAWA – A private member motion for a government study into the public impact of pornographic material that is readily available on the Internet has won all-party support.

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen’s motion calls on the Standing Committee on Health to “examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men” and report to the House of Commons by July 2017.

Viersen told the House he hopes the study will “lead to better protection for youth online, foster the healthy sexual development of youth and combat violence against women and girls.”

The first-time MP said he had not expected to bring forward this issue but was approached by many groups that urged him to do so. More than 40 groups ranging from women’s shelters to anti-human trafficking organizations to Indigenous women’s organizations have endorsed the motion.

In researching the issue, Viersen said he was “shocked” at what he found. The images of naked women formerly associated with pornography have shifted to a market for explicit material that features “violence and degradation.”

In Canada, the average age of first exposure to sexually explicit material for boys is 12, he said.

“Sexually explicit websites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined, with PornHub, the largest free site, alone receiving over 21 billion visits in 2015.”

According to Viersen, 35 per cent of all Internet downloads are sexually explicit, representing a $97-billion global industry. Almost 90 per cent of mainstream sexually explicit content features violence against women, he said.

“Sexually explicit material has become the primary source of information about sex and is a significant factor in influencing the sexual behaviours of children and adolescents,” Viersen said.

He described the easy availability of degrading images as a form of child abuse.

The Parliamentary Secretary of the Government Leader in the House MP Kevin Lamoureux said the government will support the motion.

“We owe it to our children. We owe it to our society to improve the Internet,” he said. “The Internet is a super fantastic thing, but there are some issues that need to be dealt with. This is just one of those issues, but one of the most significant, and it needs to be dealt with.”

NPD MP Brigitte Sansoucy said she would have preferred Viersen had put the motion before a committee rather than the House so work could begin right away.

“The NDP recognizes that the increasing ease of access to violent and sexual material online can be a problem for our society,” she said. “The consequences of accessing such material to male sexuality, such as erectile dysfunction, pushes men to watch ever more violent pornographic videos. Likewise, watching violent pornographic material might lower women’s self-esteem.”

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