Jonathon Van Maren

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European court to decide if pornography is a human right

The idea that prisoners would have a human right to watch other human beings get degraded, sexually abused, humiliated, and brutalized would be to mangle the phrase beyond all meaning.
Fri Feb 5, 2021 - 6:26 am EST
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February 5, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear a complaint lodged by a double murderer serving a life prison sentence that his human rights had been violated because his pornography was confiscated by prison authorities. According to the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the convicted murderer is asserting that his privacy has been violated, as well as his freedom of expression.

The ECHR will now rule as to whether the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees prisoners the right to porn.

The ECLJ has been authorized to intervene and has submitted arguments opposing the recognition of porn as a human right. In addition to making the case that pornography is inherently immoral (arguments contained in the first three pages of their submission), they also laid out evidence that pornography is often violent and can increase sexual aggression in users:

An analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos revealed that 88% of the scenes contain physical violence, 49% contain at least one verbal aggression; 87% of the aggressive acts perpetrated are against women, and in 95% of the cases, their responses are either neutral or expressions of pleasure. As a result, pornography contributes to the perpetuation of harmful gender stereotypes such as sexism, machismo, sadism, or masochism. These hormonal stimuli and examples of violent behaviour are what will lead to a significant proportion of users to decrease empathy for victims of violence and increase aggressive and dominating behaviours. This consequence must be particularly taken into account for a prisoner in a prison environment.

Indeed, global awareness has been growing not only with regard to the porn industry’s complicity in rape, sexual abuse, torture, sadism, child exploitation, and sex trafficking (most notably with the recent revelations on the most well-known porn website Pornhub, which went from the pages of the The New York Times to the halls of Congress and other parliaments in days), but also the extent to which pornography as a primary facilitator of sex education is contributing directly to the creation of a new and very real rape culture.

The idea that prisoners — many of whom are serving sentences for perpetrating the very acts portrayed as fantasy in much of mainstream pornography — would have a human right to watch other human beings get degraded, sexually abused, humiliated, and brutalized would be to mangle the phrase beyond all meaning. Additionally, feeding the ugly desires and cruel fantasies that spurred the actions resulting in imprisonment is profoundly counterproductive to the rehabilitation of prisoners: A rapist spending his time behind bars being aroused by depictions of sexual violence at the behest of the state.

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The ECLJ also makes the case that member states of the European Union have the freedom to limit liberties “in order to protect morals, as well as the safety, health, or rights of others,” a “prerogative recognised by the Convention in its Articles 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.” (An example of this would be the fact that the Republic of Ireland banned abortion until very recently.) The health concerns are also substantial, with the ECLJ noting “the considerable research establishing that repeated use of pornography causes a risk of addiction, as well as numerous psychological pathologies and relationship disorders.”

Considering the recent public discussions in the Nordic states and the United Kingdom surrounding the dangers of pornography and the public health risks digital sexual content increasingly poses, the European Court of Human Rights will presumably hear from other stakeholders in this discussion. It doesn’t take much wisdom to decide that a double-murderer does not have the right to objectify, consume, and degrade people while in prison, but we’ll soon see if the Court has enough.


  eclj, european centre for law and justice, european convention on human rights, european court of human rights, pornograpy

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