Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Looking at images of “child porn” is child sexual abuse

We have had a number of troubling comments submitted to our site following the publication of a letter of complaint to Channel 4 about their documentary "The Paedophile Next Door". These comments follow the same pattern and all seek to minimise the crime of viewing images of children being sexually abused, raped and tortured. They insist that looking at images is not a crime or, if it is a crime, it is a 'victimless' crime - that no child is harmed by viewing the images.

Let us be very clear here:

1. Child pornography, whilst a legal term, is not appropriate. The term should be images and videos of children being sexually assaulted, raped and tortured. The term pornography implies a level of consent. Children cannot consent to their sexual abuse, nor can they consent to the images being shared.

2.  Viewing and sharing these images is child sexual abuse and it revictimises the child every single time it is shared and viewed. It is not "brave" for an adult male to publicly admit to viewing these images. It is a crime.

Men who view these images/videos, and it is almost exclusively men, are participating in child sexual abuse. Viewing images of children being sexually abused is a criminal offence BECAUSE it is actively harming children. Every single time someone looks at these images they are harming the child. Ten minutes googling survivors of child sexual abuse statements would make it clear that part of their trauma is knowing that these images are still available online and that men are being sexually aroused by their abuse. Suggesting that men who view these images are “not an immediate threat” is both callous and wrong. These are not “low risk’ offenders. They are committing child sexual abuse, rape and torture.

We wrote this statement in response to a comment from a senior police officer but they apply to all of the new comments submitted to our site:

Conflating men who have a clinical diagnosis of paedophilia with men who commit child sexual abuse and exploitation is a way of minimising men, and it is almost always men, responsibility for actively harming children: whether this be through “contact abuse” or “non-contact abuse”. This is why we use the term child rapist to make it clear that those who choose to commit child sexual abuse, exploitation, rape and torture make a choice to do so – even those who have a clinical diagnosis of paedophilia make a choice to commit the abuse. Having a clinical diagnosis is not a get-out-of-jail free card. They still make a choice.

Men who look at these images or videos online PAY to do so fueling an industry which is based on the sexual exploitation and torture of children. No one “accidentally stumbles” on images of child sexual abuse, rape and torture. They have to search for these images and, then, they pay for them. This is without getting into the issue of “pay-per-view” child sexual abuse where men pay to watch another man torture a child live.

Images of children being sexually abused, tortured and raped are a growth industry because men PAY to see these images and videos. They look at the images knowing the children are being abused. They look at them because they don’t care. They believe they are entitled to watch these images of children being tortured – some as young as a day old.

These men need to be held criminally liable for participating in the sexual exploitation, rape and torture of children.

We highly recommend this article by Liz Kelly: Weasel Words: Paedophiles and the Cycle of Abuse.

 

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