This podcast is about how a group of women campaigners and academics worked together and achieved a change in the law – making the possession of rape pornography illegal.
It features author and former barrister Elizabeth Woodcraft in conversation with Professor Erica Rackley, University of Birmingham, Dr Fiona Vera Gray of Rape Crisis South London and Sarah Green Acting Director & Campaigns Manager of End Violence Against Women Campaign (EVAW).
Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley (The University of Birmingham) take part in an Oxford University sponsored ‘debate’. In this piece they discuss the meaning of ‘cultural harm’ and the need for a consent culture.
Read the full debate here.
New law on rape and revenge pornography gets royal assent (February 2015)
The Criminal Justice and Courts Act received Royal Assent on Thursday 12 February 2015. The Act contains amendments on the law of rape pornography and revenge pornography.
Clare McGlynn, along with Erika Rackley (University of Birmingham) campaigned to reform the law on extreme pornography. Their research formed the basis for the high profile campaign led by Rape Crisis (South London) and the End Violence Against Women Coalition to close the rape pornography loophole.
Rape pornography provides the cultural context in which sexual violence proliferates and is not taken seriously. The Government must now publicise the new law and work with the police and prosecutors to ensure its effective implementation.Clare McGlynn
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has, in a recent report, welcomed the provision in the Criminal Courts and Justice Bill, extending the current offence of possession of extreme pornography to include possession of pornographic images depicting rape and other non-consensual sexual penetration. In their written submission to the committee, Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley argued that the provision is “human rights enhancing” and that “rape pornography generates cultural harm and it is this cultural harm which justifies legislative action”.
The Committee agreed concluding:
We welcome, as a human rights enhancing measure, the provision in the Bill to extend the current offence of possession of extreme pornography to include possession of pornographic images depicting rape and other non-consensual sexual penetration. We consider that the cultural harm of extreme pornography, as set out in the evidence provided to us by the Government and others, provides a strong justification for legislative action, and for the proportionate restriction of individual rights to private life (Article 8 ECHR) and freely to receive and impart information (Article 10 ECHR)Joint Committee on Human Rights [1.50]
Durham Law Professors welcome reforms to extreme pornography law (February 2014)
Professors Clare McGlynn (Durham Law School) and Erika Rackley (now of the University of Birmingham) welcomed the Government announcement that the possession so-called ‘rape porn’ will be criminalised in the new Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. In research published in 2009 they argued that the failure of the law to include rape pornography represented a “missed opportunity” to take strong action against the normalisation of sexual violence.
Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley have written an opinion piece for the New Statesman on the Government’s plan to extend to extend the current extreme pornography law to include pornographic images of rape. Welcoming the changes, they argue that such images glorify and eroticise sexual violence and contribute to the creation and perpetuation of a cultural climate in which sexual violence is condoned.
In this Guardian article, Nick Cohen argues that the principle that consenting adults are free to watch what they like should be defended. Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley are cited as they highlight that evidence of the link between porn and sexual offences is not necessary, because the pornography sustains a culture in which rape and sexual violence is normalised.
Following the launch of a new peer-reviewed journal, Porn Studies, the Guardian spoke to Clare McGlynn. Clare comments on the increasing awareness amongst the younger generations of online pornography. She says there’s a profound difference between those who grew up before the internet and those who came later.
In June 2013, Anti-rape groups wrote to David Cameron arguing that extreme pornographic material ‘glorifies, trivialises and normalises’ abuse of females
This is not a simplistic argument about rape pornography causing rape” “It is undeniable that the proliferation and tolerance of such images and the messages they convey contributes to a cultural climate where sexual violence is condoned.”
The freedom of expression of women may be circumscribed in a society which condones extreme pornography and in which their privacy is invaded by unwanted sexual violence or objectification
Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley
The availability of the so-called toy Rapist Number One – a character from Grindhouse – demonstrates so clearly the links between the prevalence of rape and sexually violent films and pornography. The purchaser of the toy will not necessarily commit rape, but his acquisition legitimates rape. His action, and the availability of this toy, sustains a culture in which rape and sexual violence are not taken seriously; in which sexual violence is normalised and legitimated. We may not have the empirical evidence which clearly shows that watching violent porn makes someone commit rape, but the fact that this film has spawned this sort of merchandise, sold as a “toy”, should tell us all we need to know about the harmful nature of this sort of material.