In the past few years it has became noticeable by Police agencies across Canada that news media releases no longer carried the phrase “child pornography,” instead referring to seized images as child sexual abuse material.
The challenge in writing an article about this type of crime is that while you can refer to “child sexual abuse” images in the story, when it comes to the criminal charge laid against the accused in these cases, you still have to call it “child pornography,” because that’s what it’s called in the Criminal Code.
Canada’s Criminal Code says people can be charged with possessing, accessing, producing and distributing child pornography.
A Calgary-based citizens organization called Canada Family Action is pushing for “child pornography” to be eliminated from the Criminal Code and replaced with “child sex abuse materials,” a term they hope will better reflect the criminal nature of the activity.
In January, 2011 the leader of Canada Family Action went before a federal government justice committee to push for the revision, along with other changes, such as larger minimum sentences for people convicted of crimes relating to child sex abuse images. He said they didn’t get much of a reaction to the idea, but he’s hopeful the next new government in Canada’s May 2ond federal election will consider it.
“Every single one of these images is a crime scene,” says the leader of Canada Family Action. “It’s not an image of pornography, as we think of consenting adults involved in erotic behaviour. These are images of crime scenes that are being distributed like trading cards.”
One Canadian Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime did a report a couple of years ago called “Every Image, Every Child: Internet-Facilitated Child Sexual Abuse in Canada.” It refers to “child pornography” as a “dangerous term.”
The very first recommendation of the report is to amend the Criminal Code to more accurately describe this crime and better reflect the harm is does to victims.
The report says, “Children cannot consent to sexual relations. For this reason, use of the term ‘child pornography’ mis-characterizes sexual representations where children are involved. The term does not properly convey the real harm that is experienced by young victims and the seriousness of the activities of those persons who sexually exploit children in this way.”
The report quotes Jim Gamble, former chief of the British Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, explaining why he thinks “child pornography” is inaccurate.
“If a woman is raped and her attacker makes a video of it, no one would dare suggest the video was adult pornography. He is a rapist, not a pornographer.”
Gamble’s quote perfectly sums up why the Criminal Code should be amended. The wording of serious crimes shouldn’t be fuzzy or unclear.
If someone is in possession of photos where children are being raped or forced to have sex with animals, which has nothing to do with pornography. It’s just the worst kind of child abuse.
How does the above scenario reflect on the criminal laws in the United States?
Canada Family Action