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Can Iceland lead the way towards a ban on violent online pornography?

17/02/2013 13:26

Small, volcanic, with a proud Viking heritage and run by an openly gay prime minister, Iceland is now considering becoming the first democracy in the western world to try to ban online pornography. A nationwide consultation has found wide support for the move from police and lawyers working in the field of sexual violence, along with health and education professionals, according to Halla Gunnarsdóttir, adviser to the interior minister Ögmundur Jónasson. Ministers are now looking at the results.
"We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech," she said. "Research shows that the average age of children who see online porn is 11 in Iceland and we are concerned about that and about the increasingly violent nature of what they are exposed to. This is concern coming to us from professionals since mainstream porn has become very brutal.
"A strong consensus has been building, with people agreeing that something has to be done. The internet is a part of our society, not separate from it, and should be treated as such. No one is talking about closing down exchange of information. We have a thriving democracy here in our small country and what is under discussion is the welfare of our children and their rights to grow and develop in a non-violent environment. "There are some who say it can't be done technically – but we want to explore all possibilities and take a political decision on what can be done and how."
Gender equality is highly valued in Iceland and by its prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. In the Global Gender Gap Report 2012, Iceland holds the top spot, closely followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden. An online ban would complement Iceland's existing law against printing and distributing porn, and follow on from 2010 legislation that closed strip clubs and 2009 prostitution laws that criminalised the customer rather than the sex worker. Web filters, blocked addresses and making it a crime to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography, are among the plans being devised by internet and legal experts.

Source: https://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/16/iceland-online-pornography

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