Charity calls for tougher regulation of online pornography, which is fuelling sexual harassment and abuse - Stuart Weir

Thursday 25 November marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A minute’s silence was held at Holyrood, and other institutions across Scotland, to remember victims and show solidarity with women and girls experiencing various forms of violence.

Stuart Weir, national director of CARE for Scotland.
Stuart Weir, national director of CARE for Scotland.

As a charity that campaigns against commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and pornography, CARE for Scotland is keenly aware of the toxic, degrading and dangerous culture that exists in the UK, and globally.

Women and girls, not men, are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence in these cruel industries. And they are harmed by a wider culture, disseminated through media and the arts, that affirms objectification.

Much more needs to be done on a legislative level to curb exploitation and uphold the human rights of victims. We are campaigning for various changes that would bring about positive change.

We believe the Nordic Model, criminalising the purchase of sex and supporting women out of prostitution, should be adopted in every part of the UK, following successful implementation in Northern Ireland.

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Alongside other groups, we are calling on the Scottish Government to show that it truly believes prostitution is a “form of violence against women” by introducing this system as part of a bespoke ‘Scottish Model’.

We are fighting for greater support for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, many of whom are women, subjected to physical and sexual violence by men. UK government legislation on immigration threaten to undermine support for the vulnerable.

We are also agitating for tougher regulation of online pornography, which fuels sexual harassment and abuse and feeds a wider narrative that says women and girls are mere objects for male pleasure.

There is a complete lack of protection for children in law. UK Ministers also abandoned online safeguards designed to protect under-18s. Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act sits unused, despite being agreed by MPs.

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Scottish Ministers must pressure their UK counterparts to do more, recognising that Scottish children remain unprotected as a result of their decision to block this law. Age verification measures, and tougher regulation of the porn industry are desperately needed.

We are thankful to all who partner with us in our work and ask that you would continue to lobby both MPs and MSPs to bring about vital changes, to the benefit of women and girls. We’ve seen how grassroots action and cross-party work in both parliaments can bring real, positive change.

As a Christian charity, we are inspired by the belief that all human life is inherently precious, and worthy of dignity and respect. Governments have a moral obligation to honour and protect life in all its forms.

The Bible reminds us of God’s particular concern for those who are vulnerable, weak, and exploited by others. Micah chapter 6 condemns various forms of injustice and calls for believers to act. Verse 8 says:

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“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

God calls on His people to show compassion and justice. As Christians, and citizens, we will strive to do this in the years to come.

Stuart Weir is National Director of the charity CARE for Scotland

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