[Translated from French]
The president of the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE) presented, on Wednesday November 15, to the deputies of the Law Committee the conclusions of the report “Pornocriminality: let’s put an end to the impunity of the pornographic industry “. The former journalist also criticized the government’s strategy regarding age control on websites offering adult content.
Women “crushed, massacred”. On Wednesday 15 November, Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, Chairwoman of the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE), presented the report “Pornocriminalité: mettons fin à l’impunité de l’industrie pornographique” (“Pornocriminality: let’s put an end to the pornographic industry’s impunity”), published on 27 September, to the National Assembly’s Law Commission. The former journalist, who wants to put an end to a “massacre for profit”, described an industry with “absolutely monstrous” practices and spoke of the need to strictly “regulate” the digital space.
A FAR CRY FROM “DADDY PORN”.
Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette began her presentation to the MPs by repeating the figures given by the public prosecutor in Paris, Laure Beccuau, at her Senate hearing in June 2022: “90% of pornographic videos contain violence that falls under the criminal code.” The president of the HCE, who denied wanting to “ban pornography”, believes it is necessary to “fight against the illegalities that it involves”.
“It is illegal to violate the integrity of the human body”, stressed Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, citing several degrading practices, such as “prolapse”, with women “so damaged that they are eviscerated, you can see the viscera coming out”. According to Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, “the degree of violence increases every year” for “click-through and commercial reasons”, in order to “win over new followers, new consumers, and make more money from advertising”.
In this case, the President of the HCE has high hopes for future trials relating to the French Bukkake and Jacquie et Michel cases: “This will prove that these are not just the ravings of specialists”, she explained, describing an industry that is a far cry from the “daddy porn”. These images, easily accessible on the Internet, have “absolutely abominable consequences for young people”, she warned. “They are rushing to the open bar of porn on iPhones from a very young age, 8-10 years old…”.
The President of the HCE is concerned about the “manufacture” of “whole generations of deranged people”, going so far as to speak of a “human tide of deranged or traumatised young people”. Another frightening fact: “85 million videos of child pornography are broadcast around the world every year, and 30% of them involve children under the age of 10”, the former journalist told MEPs.
A NEW ROLE FOR PHAROS?
“We must continue to prosecute the perpetrators, the managers, the producers, the rapists, the organisers, all those who are complicit in this illegal violent activity”, said Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette. But the President of the HCE believes that this will not be enough: “I don’t think the Internet can be totally free on footage like this”. In its report, the High Council for Equality proposes giving new powers to the Pharos reporting platform, so that it can remove or block videos containing “serious intentional attacks on the integrity of the person”.
The former journalist welcomed the adoption of a Socialist amendment to the bill “aimed at securing and regulating digital space” along these lines. This “introduces new content subject to Pharos control: the depiction of acts of torture and barbarism, and the depiction of rape”. However, the President of the HCE warns members of parliament about the use of the terms “depiction of rape”: “These could be simulated scenes”, explains Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, which could lead to confusion with cinematographic scenes, which are devoid of “real violence”. The issue could be settled at the next joint committee meeting on this text.
THE GOVERNMENT’S STRATEGY QUESTIONED Referring to a “very alarming report”, Jean-François Coulomme (La France insoumise) expressed doubts about the government’s strategy: “The bill aimed at securing and regulating the digital space led us to believe that we could base the protection of minors online solely on technical devices”, said the elected representative, who believes it is necessary to insist on sex education during the school curriculum.” “As soon as a technical solution is put in place, the possibilities of circumventing it emerge very quickly”, he said.
This concern is not dissimilar to that of Cécile Untermaier (Socialists): “In view of the number of videos you have given us, it is quite clear that a judicial response will not suffice and that we need to work on prevention”. In particular, the HCE report proposes “rolling out a plan” to ensure the implementation of “three sessions on sex and emotional education in all classes”, provided for by law since 2001. Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette has herself expressed doubts about the government’s strategy for controlling the age of Internet users on pornographic sites.
The bill to secure and regulate the digital environment gives Arcom the power, in certain cases, to block websites that allow minors to view pornographic content. The bill stipulates that Arcom, after receiving the opinion of the CNIL, will publish a “reference system determining the minimum technical requirements applicable to age verification systems”.
“We’re in for 10 years of litigation”, laments Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, who believes that the guidelines will be “challenged before the European Court of Human Rights, the [European Union] Court of Justice and 50 other bodies”. According to her, “by the time all this has been sorted out, the guidelines will be obsolete”. The President of the HCE would have preferred to let the sites themselves define the control procedures: this would have made it possible to “observe” that their methods “are not effective” and therefore to “close down these sites”.