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mot Pornografi

The People's Organisation against Pornography

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Osynlig rutaMenypil  Preface
Osynlig rutaMenypil  The example
Osynlig rutaMenypil  The industry and its product
Osynlig rutaMenypil  The allusion
Osynlig rutaMenypil  The politicians & the Legislation
Osynlig rutaMenypil  Society
Osynlig rutaMenypil  What to do
Osynlig rutaMenypil  About FmP

To The Swedish Women's Front

The texts from the back covers of pornographic films we quote in this pamphlet are all taken from films that are distributed in ordinary video rental stores, not from specific porn shops.

"Everyone who's turned 50 knows what it's like. Seeing all these little teenage girls with their young, turned-up tits and knowing that it is 'look but don't touch'.
     But Randy is a schoolmaster and knows how to use his position. The cute girls might not want to sleep with the old man at all, but they have to if they want to stay on at school..."

From the back-cover of the porn film
"Schoolmaster's Little Girl".

The price of Freedom of Speach and Freedom of the Press is that we have to accept some improper or tasteless phenomena. – And you are not opposing the Freedom of the Press, are you?

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In 1971
the old "Violation of Discipline and Morality" Act was abolished in Sweden. Pornography fell within the range of that act. In 1965 a committee had been appointed to make an official report about "The Limits of Freedom of Speach". The conclusion of the report was that the act should be scrapped, but that nonetheless there should be a limit. That limit was to be drawn at child abuse and brutal violence. The report was referred to thirtyseven different authorities for consideration, twentyseven of which supported the proposal about a limit.Photo of a teddy bear Only ten of them wanted to abolish all limits (5).
     The committee which made the freedom of speech-report, together with another committe which were working on a report about film censorship at the same time, also conducted a public opinion survey about the current legislation. Many people wanted pornography prohibited. Then as well as now, women held the most negative attitudes towards pornography. And this time, again, women's opposition to pornography was explained away with comments to the effect that women are more inhibited and puritanical.
     Despite the replies from the different authorities and despite the results of the public opinion survey, no limit was included in the government bill about an alteration of the law when it was presented to the parliament in the spring of 1970. The then minister of justice, Lennart Geijer, gave his opinion:

"In questions which need to be weighed up carefully we sometimes have to accept things we consider improper and tasteless and which we personally would want to prohibit. That we, despite this, accept such thing in for example media, is the price we have to pay for an extensive freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I don't consider what is suggested in this government bill to be a very high price for safeguarding freedom of speech and freedom of the press." (6)

It was not him who had to pay the price, though. It was children. With the "setting free" of pornography, child sexual abuse was sanctioned by society.
     Only after several years of lobbying, mainly from the women's movement and Riksaktionen mot Pornografi och Prostitution (the National Action against Pornography and Prostitution), a organisation which was active during the 70s, the law was changed and child pornography was prohibited from 1980.
     From this follows that it was perfectly legal to distribute child pornography in Sweden for almost ten years. During these years, debate about sexual crime was rife, some of it originating from the bills proposed by Sexualbrottsutredningen (The Report on Sexual Crime) in 1976 (7). The report suggested that the sentences for pimping, rape, incest and other child sexual abuse were reduced or scrapped altogether. It is hard to imagine that anyone would suggest a decriminalisation of incest today, but at the time it was only one among many similar suggestions.
     The women's movement did not want to discuss the bills proposed in The Report on Sexual Crime, but demanded that the whole report be rejected. And that is what happened. In 1977 a new committe was appointed, called Sexualbrottskommittén (The Sexual Crime Committee), whose proposal of 1982 reflected an altogether different way of looking at sexual crime (8).

The Time of Silence
The decision of 1971 to abolish the "Violation of Discipline and Morality" Act was taken after a debate on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which dealt with supposed artistic expressions of sex as well as commercial distribution of pornography. Child pornography was not discussed as a separate phenomenon, but as one example of pornography, one example among many. The porn industry and the contents of its magazines and films were discussed. There was indignation about the children exploited in the pictures. Those who fought pornography in the 1970s demanded laws against primarily child, animal and violent pornography.
     After the Child Pornography Act came into force in 1980 the time of the great silence began. The public silence lasted for over ten years. Of course there were always those who fought child pornography, but they did not get to voice their opinions in the media. Folkaktionen mot Pornografi (The People's Organisation against Pornography) has opposed child pornography since the forming of the organisation in 1985, but even now, just over ten years later, when the issue of child pornography is actually brought up in the media now and then, history is told as if child pornography was a completely new phenomenon, which nobody had known anything about until now and therefore no action had been taken against it.
     Officially, there was no longer any child pornography in Sweden, now that it was prohibited. But it goes without saying that child pornography did not disappear.

Photo of a toy trollThe Problem is Concealed, but does not Disappear
For many perpetrators the act meant that they now started distributing the child pornography between themselves, in close-knit or loosely structured groups. One way for them to find each other was through adverts in so called men's "entertainment" magazines. They distributed - and still distribute- their own films and photographs, that is, documentations of their own abuse, but also copies of commercial child pornography from the porn industry.
     For the commercial porn industry the act meant that the worst abuse disappeared from the shelves of the porn shops; the youngest children and the most brutal violence. But the porn industry wants to make money and they did not accept having their profit diminished. They soon figured out ways to circumvent the act. We go into this in more detail in the chapter about pornography of allusion.

The Child Pornography Act
In the Child Pornography Act it says that a person who "represents children in a pornographic picture with the intent of distributing the picture or who is distributing such a picture" is to be convicted. In practice, the act has only filled the function of a – limited – ban on the distribution of child pornography. One consequence has been a cleaning-up of the porn business – the very worst child pornography is no longer sold openly. But most of it is accessible. It is on the market. The act is not a censorship act, but is depending on someone to report illegal pornography.
     Who is supposed to make these reports? Hardly the men who consume child pornography, or the men who produce it. The police say they do not have the capacity for more than isolated measures. The trial with local "video controllers" has not worked out very well. It is a heavy responsibility to put on us who oppose pornography, that we have to spend our time and money on purchasing illegal pornography in porn shops or by mail order, in order to report it to the police with reference to an act which is not sufficient.
     In addition, the Swedish act does not state any age limit. In the preliminary versions of the act children are defined as persons "whose sexual maturity process has not been completed". It also says that "the more detailed setting of limits must be a part of the process of application of the law". What does that imply? For any "application of the law" about the setting of limits to happen at all, the Chancellor of Justice has to hand on a number of cases to the court, so that those in charge of "applying the law" can decide what limits on child pornography society wants. But the Chancellor of Justice has not done so. Not one of the Chancellors of Justice who have been in office since the act came into force in 1980 has done so, neither Bengt O. Hamdahl, Hans Stark nor Johan Hirschfeldt. No limit was drawn through application of the law. The act has hardly been used at all since it came into force.
Photo of a toy cat     The critique of the Chancellor of Justice has grown increasingly stronger. Neither the Child Pornography Act nor the Sexual Coercion or Violence Act were working. The government reacted by requesting that a report was made on how the latter was observed. The Chancellor of Justice's office was told to look over its own handling of the cases. The conclusion of the report was that it is hard to evaluate the handling of the cases, more time was needed to form an opinion (9). Like so many times before Swedish authorities substituted reports for action. And the price of the delay, as always, is paid by the women and children who continue to be exploited in pornography.

The Police Confiscations of the 90s
In the prevailing silence pornography flourished. Then came the substantial confiscations of child pornography in the early 1990s and with them an awareness about what child pornography actually is and how it is used; that perpetrators show child pornography to children, to break down their resistance; other adults do these things with children, other children let their dads do that, it is normal that adults use children sexually (10). It is also used directly: – Do like that, like that child in that picture. Furthermore, child pornography fills a function for the perpetrators in that they feel that they have others' approval for what they are doing, and since it says in the magazine that she wants it herself it must be OK to do it, and she does not offer any resistance in the film. Child pornography both encourages and glorifies abuse – and legitimises child sexual abuse.
     One would have wished for the knowledge about pornography and how it is used to be put together as time went on: the knowledge about pornography as a societal phenomenon, the knowledge about what children are subjected to in the production of pornography and the knowledge about what is done to other children through the use of pornography. What actually happened was that all this knowledge was erased, forgotten, during each period of silence. The debate about child pornography today has lost the societal context and child pornography is often being discussed as an isolated phenomenon; by all means a serious, but marginal, problem.

A Symbol of Pornography
Sweden was one of the first countries in the word to lift all restrictions on pornography. Sweden became a symbol of pornography, the perfect country for the porn industry, all over the world proponents of pornography used Sweden as an argument for the restrictions on pornography to be lifted in their countries as well.
     Since in this way Sweden was conducive to making pornography acceptable, our country should take a very clear stand at least against child pornography. Instead, it has turned out the other way around. Despite massive public resistance against child pornography, we only have a badly written act, which is not even implemented.
     The confiscations of child pornography in the 1990s led to demands for a ban not only on distribution of child pornography but also on possession. The Chancellor of Justice's office then wrote in a memorandu – echoing the words of Lennart Geijer from the 1970 – that "the principles about freedom of speach and freedom of information, which are so fundamental for our society..." should not "be subordinated by such far-reaching exception as a criminalisation of possesion of certain kinds of representations would imply." (11) Once again childrens' needs were sacrificed. Only a year or so later there was no problem to start applying a ban on racist lyrics, with reference to the law against percecution of minority groups. Not a word was uttered about freedom of speach or freedom of the press.

International Centre for trade in Child Pornography?
We now know that child pornography is being distributed from Sweden all across Europe and the USA. The lack of action against child pornography on the part of the Swedish authorities entails that Sweden run the risk of becoming an international centre for trade in child pornography. While more and more countries have criminalised possession of child pornography, Sweden has so far been hesitating and has deferred making a decision on the issue - despite the fact that large international organisations like Interpol, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Nordic Council and the UN's Commission for Human Rights have recommended all countries in the whole world to put a ban on possession of child pornography.
     – Sweden is the only country in the world where child pornography is a right which is protected by the constitution, as many people have put it, with disappointment.

The Child Pornography Committee
By the summer of 1996 the governmental Child Pornography Committee should have presented its suggestions for alterations in the Child Pornography Act. But the committee asked for an extension, so at the time of writing, we do not know what the act will look like in the future. Unfortunately, we do not have much hope in the results of the report bringing about any major changes.
     The largest obstacle for real change is perhaps that the debate in Sweden almost always is about what is to be seen in a picture, instead of taking as its starting point what message is conveyed by pornography or what its consequences are. This is also why in Sweden it is usually film historians/theorists and media experts who are given the role of experts on pornography in the public debate. In other countries, where pornography is discussed rather from the perspective of its consequences, it is more common that for example sociologists exert an influence on the debate. This difference in basic approach is of course also reflected in the legislation. In Norway, for example, the starting point in the phrasing of the law against child pornography has been the knowledge of how child pornography is used. There both possession and import of child pornography is prohibited, and by child pornography is meant: pornographic representation (photographs, film, video or the like) of a person who is, who must be regarded to be or who is represented to be under the age of 16.

The UN's Child Convention
According to the UN's child convention, which Sweden has signed, children are to be protected from being exploited through sexual abuse and sex traffic, pornography included.
     It is really so self-evident: It should simply be against the law to abuse children sexually, to document the abuse, to possess or distribute such documentations and to encourage child sexual abuse.

Photo of an old style televison set for the doll houseLegislation is not enough
It is important to have a law against pornography. Legislation is a statement from society about what we do not accept. But more important still is the knowledge about what pornography is.
     The history of Traci Lords also raises questions about the drawing of limits between "child pornography" and "ordinary" pornography. In the USA one of the films recorded with Traci Lords was legal – she had turned 18 at the time of the filming. The American law is saying that during all those years when she was used in porn film recordings she was exploited by the porn industry. But suddenly one day, according to the law, the exploitation ceased and she participated consentingly in the filming – she had turned 18. What was it that happened on her 18th birthday that made her suddenly "want" to make porn films?
     Folkaktionen mot Pornografi thinks that a Child Pornography Act has to have an age limit, and that it should be 18 years. But this must not make us misunderstand what women are subjected to after they have turned 18. We know, for example from research in other countries, that women who are used in prostitution have often been sexually abused as children. And of course the same applies to pornography, which is basically the same thing; that men buy access to women's bodies to use them sexually.

     Pornography is not an isolated phenomenon, it is connected to society's general view on women – and children.

5. Hjördis Levin: Testiklarnas herravälde. Sexualmoralens historia. (The Domination of the Testicles. The History of Sex Morals) Natur och Kultur, 1989, p.299. Up arrow
6. The article Sexliberalerna röjer väg för pornografi och prostitution (The Sex Liberals Pave th Way for Pornography and Prostitution) by Jeanette Gentele in Gunilla Fredelius (ed.): Ett onödigt ont. En antologi mot pornografi och prostitution (An Unnecessary Evil), Ordfront 1978, p.63. Up arrow
7. SOU 1976:9 Sexuella övergrepp (Sexual Abuse), Justitiedepartementet (The Ministry of Justice) 1976. Up arrow
8. SOU 1982:61 Våldtäkt och andra sexuella övergrepp (Rape and Other Forms of Sexual Abuse) Justitiedepartementet (The Ministry of Justice) 1982. Up arrow
9. Justitiekanslern (The Chancellor of Justice) Regeringsrapport (Government Report) Dnr 2903-91-90 angående Uppdrag rörande bestämmelserna om olaga våldsskildring (Regarding Commission concerning the regulations on illegal representation of violence), 23/12-93, p.31, 44 and 45. Up arrow
10. See interviews with incest survivors in for example Folkaktionen mot Pornografi:s Vems rätt? (Who's right?) video film about child pornography and the UN's child convention. Up arrow
11. Ds 1993:29 Brottsoffer i blickpunkten – åtgärder för att stärka brottsoffrens ställning (Victims of Crime in Focus – Measures to Stengthen the Positions of Victims of Crime), Justitiedepartementet (The Ministry of Justice) 1993. Up arrow

Nota bene:
Since the phamplet was written the Swedish Child Pornography Act has been modified. Since 1999 it is (with a few exceptions) a criminal act to be in possession of Child Pornography. But the Pornography of Allusion is not banned by the law and the Commercial Pornography that uses young teenage girls is not on the agenda at all.

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