Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Retailers’ sexualization of girls boosts child porn and human trafficking: MEP report

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, June 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A grassroots movement, led by parents but including business, is building at the pan-European level to counter the hyper-sexualization of children, especially young girls, in the fashion industry and media. Retailers in Britain have admitted that they have “gone too far” and are cooperating with a program that allows parents to register complaints directly to a business association, Anna Kuchta, an organizer at the European Union told LifeSiteNews.com today. 

“The conjoined explosion of music video culture, the internet, the computer games, and the commercial targeting of youth as sexual beings is having an intensely noxious effect on youth culture,” she said.

Kuchta said that the MEPs and governments are becoming aware that the sexualization of children is inseparable from hypersexualization of culture as a whole. And awareness is also growing of its connection to the associated growth of the multi-billion-Euro human trafficking and child pornography industries.

Earlier this month, a European Parliament group led by Polish MEP Joanna Skrzydlewska held hearings on the problem of the sexualization of children. The EU conference focused on a wide range of problem material not only from TV but also from video games, the Internet, newspapers, magazines and music videos. Skrzydlewska said the problem is “nothing more than imposing the sexuality of adults on young children, teenagers and especially girls when they are not ready for it emotionally, mentally or physically.”

Kuchta, Skrzydlewska’s parliamentary assistant, said that the problem has been slow to dawn on businesses, but now that more concerns are being raised they are taking steps to curtail inappropriate materials reaching young girls. Gaining the cooperation of retailers, she said, is a major step forward, since this is where the cultural rubber hits the road.

“Honestly speaking, there has been lots of response from businesses,” Kuchta said in a phone interview today. “British retail companies have created an association and a code of good practice.” They have also created a website, called Stop Shop, where they can respond directly to parents’ concerns.

There came a moment, Kuchta said, when the business leaders saw that they had gone too far and could “see that push-up bras for 12 year-olds is inappropriate”. Although the movement in the EU was originally sparked by the work of U.S. psychology researchers, Kuchta said it has really taken hold of the public mind in Britain, where the government is making the problem a priority.

A parents’ NGO based in Paris has contacted the EU Parliamentarians saying that progress is also being made in France, where government regulation already exists. The French group, Kuchta said, is working towards creating cooperation between parents, schools, business and “civil society”. The group is working on a public campaign, featuring popular pop and TV stars and the fashion magazine Marie Claire.

“The worrying phenomenon of the hypersexualization of our environment has noxious effects on young people. What is more, the hypersexualization of public spaces relies on and reinforces well established sexual stereotypes, according to which girls should be not only pretty and skinny but also sexy and hot and the boys should play the macho role and dominate the girls,” Kuchta said.

“From a very young age, girls are treated as sexual objects, their development is not respected, and the lines between childhood and adulthood are blurred.  Children, especially girls are the targets of marketing specialists who sell them age inappropriate products so they will become lifetime customers.”

In the past it was adult women who felt the imperative to look “sexy”. Now this imperative is in danger of being adopted by younger and younger girls who will inevitably face the same feelings of inadequacy, failure to live up to an unrealistic ideal.

Skrzydlewska, whose doctoral dissertation was on the subject, says that many young women now believe that “the only confidence worth having is sexual confidence” and in fact, “it seems that what this hyper-sexualized society is selling to girls is actually a caricature of sexual confidence”. Hyper-sexualized images and messages are having a profound impact, researchers have found, with girls becoming more concerned with how others perceive them than with their own interests and desires.

This self-objectification fits well, she said, with the current media focus on self- improvement, not in the form of learning new skills but of enhancing one’s physical appearance.

“By all aspects of sexualisation we are stealing childhood from children by pushing them to become ‘little adults,’ and by making them experience emotions that are difficult to deal with at their young age.” Children do not possess the ability to interpret them correctly and critically and the result is poor self-esteem, depression and even dangerous eating disorders, she said.

Pornography shapes young people’s sexual knowledge but does so by portraying sex in unrealistic ways, she says. Moreover, pornography “is increasingly dominated by themes of aggression, power and control, blurring the lines between consent, pleasure and violence.”

According to researcher Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, there has been a marked increase in the number of sites that “infantilize women” which results in changes in perceptions of child pornography among adults. When girls are dressed to resemble adult women, people may associate adult motives and even a sense of adult responsibility onto the child. Depicting young girls dressed or made up as sexually mature older women may serve to normalize abusive practices such as child abuse or sexual exploitation.

Papadopoulos cites studies showing a link between pornography use and sexual behavior. One study conducted in the US shows that 29 per cent of high school students said that pornography had influenced their sexual behavior. A European study showed that 53 per cent of young men said pornography had “ inspired” their sexual behavior.

The EU report, not yet available in English, says that pornography has led the way to more men looking at children as objects of sexual desire, “especially after they clicked on the pop-up ads for teen porn” which lead eventually into real child porn.

“For some men, the teen sites were just a stepping stone to the real thing, as they moved seamlessly from adult women to children,” the report says.

Home Office research suggests that the porn and child porn industries and human trafficking are growing in tandem. In 2003 up to 4,000 women were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the UK and in 2009 the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre estimated that the potential number of child trafficking victims was 325.

The link between pornography and organized crime is a long and established one. Together pornography, human trafficking and prostitution contribute to a network of exploitation that fuels the global sex trade, Kuchta said. According to the UN, global profits from the trafficking of human beings currently stand at around US $7 billion, equivalent in monetary terms to the global trade in drugs.

Simply put, the porn industry has created a market for children, which is being supplied by human trafficking, she said.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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