Porn age verification needed to tackle 'conveyor belt of sexual predators', baroness tells LBC

14 March 2021, 13:46

By Joe Cook

Age verification is needed on pornography websites to tackle the "conveyor belt of sexual predators who commit violence against women", Baroness Floella Benjamin tells LBC.

The government should investigate the link between violent online pornography and domestic abuse, as well as implementing age verification on porn sites, the peer told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday.

Ms Benjamin offered her “deepest condolences” to the family of Sarah Everard, who was the victim of a suspected murder in south London, but added: “We must also remember all the other women who have lost their lives through sexual violence.”

“Sarah’s legacy must be that she died in order for change to happen.”

The member of the House of Lords is now calling on the government to “act now on the normalisation of violence against women through extreme violent pornography”.

Read more: Woman arrested on ground at Sarah Everard vigil 'not surprised' at how police treated her

Baroness Floella Benjamin explained that she has put forward an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill, which will be debated in the Lords on Monday.

The amendment asks “the government to launch an investigation into any link between violent online pornography and domestic abuse, with a view to implementing recommendations to bring into effect the age verification regime in the Digital Economy Act 2017, as a means of preventing domestic abuse".

Read more: Met Police chief urged to resign after 'deeply disturbing' handling of Sarah Everard vigil

“It is great to hear Boris Johnson say something has to be done quickly to stop domestic violence against women, well accepting my amendment would be a start,” she told Tom Swabrick.

“It would show women that he is serious, because over the last 12 years there has been a real explosion of the availability of online pornography and the mainstreaming of all forms of violent sex, much of which has criminal content, which in the past was not easily available.

“We have got to stop creating a conveyor belt of sexual predators who commit violence against women.”

Read more: 'The UK is not safe for women', Labour's Jess Phillips tells LBC

The Liberal Democrat peer said the government needs to “look at the data”, explaining that academic research “shows there is a clear association between porn consumption and the high incidence of male aggression or sexual violence”.

“We have found extreme pornography incidence causes sexual violence and over the last few days you have seen the outpouring of stories of women about sexual harassment - attacks on them including indecent exposure."

Read more: Labour urges government to make misogyny a hate crime

“The University of Cambridge has found changes to the brain structure and function in impulsive porn users,” she continued.

“They found porn users’ brains responded to images of pornography in the same way that cocaine does to cocaine addicts.”

“We have got to make sure that children are not growing up to see these images.”

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