Rape Pornography – winning a change in the law


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This podcast is about how a group of women campaigners and academics worked together and achieved a change in the law – making the possession of rape pornography illegal.

It features author and former barrister Elizabeth Woodcraft in conversation with Professor Erica Rackley, University of Birmingham, Dr Fiona Vera Gray of Rape Crisis South London and Sarah Green Acting Director & Campaigns Manager of End Violence Against Women Campaign (EVAW).

Rape pornography has been widely available, including on free porn sites, in the UK – ensuring that boys and men can freely access porn that eroticises rape and violence against women. In 2006 the government began a consultation process to see whether the laws on pornography should be updated to reflect the growth of pornography via the internet. This resulted in legislation in 2008 which outlawed some ‘extreme’ pornography, but excluded images of rape.

The Scottish Parliament however, enacted separate legislation, which did include rape pornography.

So, in England and Wales, though not in Scotland, websites with domain names such as ‘Brutal Rape’, ‘Cruel Rape’ were still lawful in 2012, when a number of women’s organisations working with women who have been the victims of sexual violence were appalled to discover the ubiquity of these sites. And shocked to find that they were not illegal.

Feminist academics, too, had for some time been concerned at the framing of the legislation in England and Wales and that the concept of ‘harm’ was absent.

The two groups came together in 2012 and launched a high profile campaign for a change in the law. This podcast explores how they went about it.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 which makes illegal the possession of extreme pornography showing images depicting rape, came into force on 13 April 2015.

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