22 December 2021,
On the 16th of November 2021, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of the Europe adopted a Resolution on the “Gender aspects and human rights implications of pornography“, stressing the harmful impacts of pornography on women. “Research shows that pornography contributes to shaping people’s mindsets on sexuality and perceptions of gender roles, often engendering and perpetuating stereotypes thereby undermining gender equality and women’s self-determination by conveying an image of women as subordinate to men, as objects and trivialising violence against women”.
5. The Assembly reiterates that, while freedom of expression is a pillar of democratic societies and a right guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), it is possible to set limits to this right when they are prescribed by law and are necessary in the interests of, amongst others, the prevention of crime, the protection of morals and the protection of the rights of others.
The report, prepared by Rapporteur Frank Heinrich (Germany, CDU/CSU) presents an extensive argumentation, supported by data and researches, on the impact of porn consumption on the perception of sexuality and women: “in a study on 50 best-selling porn films, 88% of the scenes showed physical aggression and 49% showed verbal aggression. The victims of these aggressions are in most cases female performers (94%) who respond neutrally or express pleasure towards these forms of aggression (95%)“.
FAFCE welcomes this first step of the Parliamentary Assembly in favour of a condemnation of pornography. Yet, it is to be regretted that the role of parents is rarely mentioned, beside a call to “consider introducing measures and tools to enhance the skills of parents”. It rather focuses on the sexual education provided within schools, from which “children cannot be withdrawn from” (§10.2.1.). Overall, the call to forbid the access of minors to pornography (legal obligation in all EU Member-States) is very weak, as States parties are only asked to “consider introducing country-wide age verification to access pornography, or a legal obligation for companies distributing pornography to verify age” (§10.4.9.).
FAFCE has been advocating for several years against the disastrous impact of pornography as a public health problem. It is first a perverse and counterproductive form of sexual education for children and adolescents, who will develop unrealistic, emotionally detached and often violent expectations of sexuality. Pornography is equally problematic for adults, both men and women, with addiction to pornography having disastrous consequences on the psychological balance of its consumers. It also impacts couples, as it rejects the notions of consent, monogamy, stability and occults the profound connection of sexuality with the dignity of human procreation. Moreover, pornography is not only a problem for those who view it, but also a violation of the human dignity of those who participate in it, as the working conditions of porn actors include degrading treatments. Even more seriously, the porn industry profits from the diffusion of the worst crimes – rape, torture, child abuse – while promoting in a diffuse way a culture of rape, male dominance and sexual selfishness.
Read more about FAFCE work on pornography:
FAFCE Contributes to Public Consultation on Gender-Based and Domestic Violence
#EndViolenceAgainstWomen: The fight against violences begins with education on human dignity
Vision and commitment of FAFCE against pornography: interview for the Italian association PURIdiCUORE