Porn is a major ‘public health’ crisis, US campaigners warn

Pornography should be seen as a major public health crisis, a panel of campaigners in the US has said.

Speaking ahead of a two-day conference last week on the topic of sexual exploitation, the executive director of Morality in Media warned of an “untreated pandemic of harm”.

Dawn Hawkins commented: “There’s a lot of science now proving that pornography is harmful”.

Harm

“We know now that almost every family in America has been touched by the harm of pornography”, she added.

Participants of the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation conference included health professionals, social workers, academics, feminists, faith leaders, campaigners against human trafficking and former members of the adult entertainment industry.

One of the speakers Donny Pauling, who used to be a pornography film producer but is now an active opponent, talked of how he saw the ill effects of the industry on the women involved.

Recruited

“I recruited more than 500 first-timers into the business and there’s never been one that came back and thanked me”, he said.

Gail Dines, a sociology and women’s studies professor in Boston, said that adult sites get more visitors per month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined, and highlighted that the Internet now hosts 4.2 million porn websites.

“Porn is without doubt the most powerful form of sex education today, with studies showing that the average age of first viewing porn is between 11 and 14”, she commented.

Degrading

“These degrading misogynist images have become the wallpaper of our lives and they are robbing young people of an authentic healthy sexuality”, she argued.

Mary Anne Layden of the University of Pennsylvania, who specialises in sexual trauma, commented that in every case of sexual violence that she has treated as a psychotherapist, pornography has been a factor.

“The earlier males are exposed to pornography, the more likely they are to engage in non-consensual sex – and for females, the more pornography they use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex,” she commented.

Success

Layden added that if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were interested in pornography as a “public health issue”, there could be the same success as has been seen with the issue of cigarette smoking.

The conference was the first event for the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation, which aims to “make pornography a widely understood public health concern”.

The summit took place in Washington on Friday and Saturday last week.

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