Newspapers should not be allowed to print pictures of women that would not be shown on pre-watershed television an inquiry into press standards was told.
Four groups challenged the objectification of women by the media and called on Lord Justice Leveson to back a ban on sexualised images in newspapers, claiming that such images would not be broadcast on television before the 9pm watershed.
Anna Van Heeswijk, from Object, a group that challenges the objectification of women by the media, said Page Three tabloids portrayed women as the “sum of sexualised body parts.”
She said: “We have to ask ourselves what kind of story does it tell young people when men in newspapers wear suits, or sports gear, are shown as active participants, and women are sexualised objects who are essentially naked or nearly naked.
She added: “You will find there is a gradient of extremity running from the Sun to the Daily Star. The common theme throughout this is the Page Three feature which is of a topless or sometimes fully nude young woman who is objectified.
“It’s more harmful to have these pictures in mainstream newspapers because of the normalising effect it has.”
“We are not proposing any radical overhaul of media regulation. We are just calling for consistency.”
The groups also called on Lord Justice Leveson to recommend the replacement of the Press Complaints Commission with an independent body “with teeth” that women and women’s groups could complain to directly.
Lord Justice Leveson said his powers were limited and their challenges would require “rock-solid legislation.”
Last year research in America showed that highly sexualised images of women in the media have soared in recent years and they are becoming increasingly explicit.
Images of women on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine were 89 per cent more likely to be sexualised or ‘pornified’ in the 2000s than in the 1960s, the study by the University of Buffalo revealed.