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Spain pledges to limit access to pornography for minors

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez seeks a national agreement to stop the “epidemic”. Spain is the EU country with highest consumption of porn among minors. Evangelical groups have long called for this issue to be addressed.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 16/Daniel_Hofkamp,5/Evangelical_Focus MADRID 16 DE ENERO DE 2024 13:02 h
Pedro Sánchez, at an event in Madrid, January 2024. / Spanish government.

The Spanish government plans to take significant steps to limit access to pornographic content to minors.

President Pedro Sánchez announced it in an interview with Spanish newspaper El País, where he presented the outline of a three-point strategy that seeks a “national agreement” for the protection of minors on the Internet.

“First, a comprehensive law for the protection of minors”, Sánchez explained; “second, a multidisciplinary strategy from the areas of education, competences and equality”, and third, “the creation of devices that prevent minors from accessing pornographic content”.

The first two measures have been developed with strategies and laws in recent months, while the third one is new.

Currently, access to pornographic content on the Internet is completely open. Pornographic websites, a business worth millions of euros a year, do not require any kind of accreditation certifying the legal age of the people accessing them.


An “epidemic”

Sánchez pointed out that the government is aware that there is “a real epidemic of minors who have access to pornographic content”, in which “one out of four young people under 12 has had access to or consumes porn. Almost half of young people under 15 consume it”.

“This is not puritanism”, added the president. “It affects the education of our adolescents and also the future behaviour they may have on such a transcendental issue as equality”.


Experts warn of the problem

In recent years, many conferences and initiatives have warned of the dangers of pornography, addressing not only minors, but also the harm that its consumption entails for socio-affective and family relationships, as well as its relationship with other practices such as prostitution or human trafficking.

In 2020, the II Congress 'Pornography, Childhood and Women' emphasised that “pornography represents a school of inequality between women and men in the 21st century”.

“The pornification of culture is a reality that is transforming the media ecosystem that directly appeals to the way women and girls are today”, Leticia Porto, director of the congress, told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.

“According to the latest studies on the consumption of child pornography, for example, Spain has become the second country in the world in terms of the consumption of this type of material and the first in the European Union”, said Porto.

Even in adolescents and adults, the consumption of pornography, especially by men, leads to “serious relationship problems; disappointment in relationships because there is no such fiction to which they are used to; compulsive personalities unable to control those impulses and which affect them in terms of emotional, sensitive and affective development”.


A global concern

Access to pornography has become an issue of global concern.

In a 2018 interview, British psychiatrist Glynn Harrison said that “the vast majority of children come to know and experience what sex is through pornography. And that's a big problem”.

He pointed out that “porn plays with the human heart and draws us into patterns from which we find it hard to break free”.

Pete Lupton, who is part of NePornu, a Czech organisation that aims to help people get out of pornography addiction, underlined that one of the problems is that “we live in a very over sexualised civilization right now. Porn is teaching us that it is OK to take others as objects of our lust if you just satisfy yourself watching that. You stop perceiving them as human beings with their own dignity”.

Lupton explains that in recent years there has been an increasing demand for help from people who want to stop using pornography.

In Spain, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE) has been working for three years on the issue of pornography through a course for leaders.

Marcos Zapata, president of the AEE, considers pornography to be “the invisible enemy that nobody sees and nobody wants to talk about”.

“The statistics in our country are alarming, the first contact with pornography starts at eight and regular consumption from 11 onwards. Children, adolescents and young people in our churches are no strangers to this reality and, sadly, neither are adults”.

That is why “as Christians we must confront this social scourge with reflection and with proposals for change and transformation, both for individuals and, one day, with legislative proposals to limit the promotion and consumption of pornography, which ultimately results in the mistreatment of women, the promotion of prostitution and the degradation of the human dignity with which God created us”, adds Zapata.

The last Family and Leadership consultation, organised by the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's working group on Family, addressed the issue of pornography with a presentation by psychologist Kari Clewett.


The fight against pornography in Europe

In 2021, the Council of Europe adopted in a resolution that European countries should address in their legislation the regulation of pornography, both in terms of production and access, especially for minors.

In France, the fight against pornography by focusing on the danger to minors has been on the political agenda since 2019.

In 2023, the French Senate unanimously approved a proposal to “make the fight against pornographic violence a public policy priority” in which, among other measures, it calls for the implementation of an age control system for visitors to pornograpy websites.

The motion called for “a strengthening of the criminal prosecution, the staffing and material resources available to investigative services and judges in order to combat pornographic violence and prevent the distribution of illicit violent content”.

It also asked for a special tax on "pornographic activity” and that any sexual violence committed in a pornographic context should be deemed an offence of incitement to rape or sexual assault.

The draft law is currently being debated in the France's national Congress.


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