Push for rape porn ban

By Ian Dunt

Pornography showing scenes of rape should be banned because of the cultural harm it causes, campaigners have said.

In a letter to the prime minister, a variety of women's and children's groups said the depiction of rape in pornography was 'normalising' sexual attacks and undermining efforts to crack down on sexual violence.

The videos in question are not depictions of actual rape, but consensual sexual performances staged by actors.

Campaigners say the videos should have been included in the Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which banned 'extreme pornography', such as sex with animals and harm to the genitals.

"It is a serious omission not to have included images depicting rape and other non-consensual acts as they did in Scotland," Rape Crisis South London campaigner Fiona Elvines told the BBC.

"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."

The letter, which has the backing of several academics, has been signed by deputy children's commission Sue Berelowitz.

The legal status of rape porn sends a "contradictory message about the seriousness with which sexual violence is taken", it reads.

The publication of 'portrayals of rape' has been banned in the UK since 1959, but most servers for pornography websites hosting the content are based overseas.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "Rape is an abhorrent crime and that is why this government has driven forward significant progress in tackling violence against women and girls.

"We share the public's concern about the availability of harmful content on the internet and have already taken steps to ensure there are better online filters to protect children."

Media secretary has demanded internet firms attend a summit to discuss this and other issues around extremism websites.