English Politician Proposes Admendment to Bill to Include Written CSA Alongside Images
In Parliament on Wednesday 12th September, Conservative politician Sir Paul Beresford Introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill proposing the change to an existing law, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The politician wants the current illegal status of under 16s engaging in sexual activity to extend to written accounts of child abuse. The admendment passed and will receive its second reading in Parliament on 19th October.
The outline of the original act is here, whilst Beresford’s amendment is at the BBC’s Democracy Live website here.
Interesting. While I certainly am no fan of fictional written accounts of CSA, it always gives me pause when governments start deciding that certain content is illegal where there is no proven, direct, harm. (i.e. a photo of a juvenile engaging in a sexual act is proof of direct harm, the child in question is clearly being victimized, however when it’s fictionalized text, there’s no victim, per se.) Who gets to decide what written, or spoken, words are dangerous and which are not? It’s a very fine line. I can see where a 15 year old girl, writing about going to second base with her BF in her diary, would be in possession of illegal material. Clearly, that’s not what is intended, but any time you start to censor certain speech, someone has to decide where that line is drawn.
As part of his general remarks Mr Beresford said that he wasn’t talking about specific completed literature like Lolita to give his best example. I think he’d also need to have an exemption where court-ordered treatment is given to offenders in prison, as writing is a general exercise led by a therapist or psychiatrist as well. We’ll see if the second reading takes these issues into account next month, if not the House of Lords would have the final word later on.