By Tim Waggoner
CANBERRA, Australia, June 5, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Australian officials have cleared for publication an uncensored nude photograph of a 13 year-old girl and have issued it a PG rating. The Australian Classifiers Board found that the "image of breast nudity…creates a viewing impact that is mild and justified by context…and is not sexualised to any degree".
The decision has outraged anti-child-pornography activist Gregory Carlin. "Material which is child pornography in Britain, is now considered child friendly viewing in Australia," Carlin, a U. K. campaigner against child pornography, told LifeSiteNews.com today.
Numerous controversial photographs featuring nude girls as young as 13, which were taken by photographer Bill Henson, have been under investigation since Australian police confiscated many of the photos from an Australian art gallery on May 23.
After the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) received a complaint from Carlin regarding the image of the nude 13 year-old girl, they referred the photo to the Classification Board, which deals with official classifications. Upon a brief review, the board stated that "at the time of ACMA’s investigation, the content…was not prohibited as defined by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act)."
The act reads, "Under the Act, the following categories of content (other than content that consists of an eligible electronic publication) are prohibited: (a) Content which is classified RC or X 18+ by the Classification Board, including:...child pornography."
Carlin says that many are left wondering what constitutes child pornography.
The Commonwealth of Australian Law website states under the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications 2005, that, "depictions of nudity involving minors under 18 generally warrant a RC [refused classification] as they deal with matters of sex…in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults."
It continues by saying, "the Code states explicitly that publications which describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offense to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not) will be classified RC."
The board’s decision comes only two weeks after they deemed acceptable nude photos of a 16 year-old girl found in Russh magazine. After investigating the pictures, which depicted the girl sharing a bubble bath with a 15 year-old boy and included four champagne bottles in close proximity, the board said the publication "does not need to be classified."
Carlin says he is particularly alarmed and disturbed by the board’s findings because they convey the message to publication companies that child pornography is acceptable.
"This is the first occasion anywhere in the world that a nude photograph of a female child who was subject to a police investigation relating to a sexually motivated crime has been cleared for publication," commented Carlin.
As reported by News.com.au, Federal Youth Minister Kate Ellis, was also unsettled by these recent events.
"The sexualisation of children and young people in magazines and advertising is disturbing," she said.
In light of these decisions, police wishing to prosecute Bill Henson will now face a tougher task in convincing a court that the "artist’s" photographs precipitate "offence to reasonable persons."
Furthermore, Carlin alluded to the fact that the confusion about what constitutes art and what constitutes pornography throws a veil of deception over the photographs of "artists" such as Henson, making prosecution of a blatant offense a laborious and possibly futile chore.
See related coverage:
The Creeping Push to Legalize Child Porn as "Artists" Defend Nude Photos of 13 Year-Olds
Nudes in Sculpture and Painting vs Nudes in Photography and Film