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Incensed about censorship

By Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Friday, 5 December 2008


Allowing images that depict children as keen for sex makes them more vulnerable to abuse and violence. Partially covering titles makes no difference. These magazines don't need tighter ratings, they shouldn't be sold at all.

A recent check of 38 magazines in corner stores in three Melbourne suburbs by Julie Gale of Kids Free 2B Kids, a group committed to raising community and corporate awareness about the early sexualisation of children, shows the titles have been wrongly classified or should have been ruled "RC - Refused Classification" because of explicit content involving girls who are, or are depicted as, minors.

It appears our Classification Board hasn't just fallen asleep at the wheel - it never even got into the car.

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The Classification Board has given the titles quoted here "serial classification", which means instead of having to clear each issue, the publishers get a two-year approval, Gale complained to the Board.

It then decided to audit three titles, among 30 imported by David Watt. Board Director Donald McDonald admitted in a letter to Gale that they had been wrongly classified.

"In the Board's view, the contents of the audited publications Purely 18 and Live Young Girls would exceed the classification of Category 1 restricted, granted by their respective Serial Classification Declarations," the letter said.

"When auditing the issue of Live Young Girls, the board noted that one advertisement included in the magazine warranted an RC classification. The advertisement is an offensive depiction of a person who is, or appears to be under 18."

So what tough action does the Board take next?

Well, it asks the distributor to write a submission arguing why it should be allowed to keep the serial classification ruling and sends a community liaison officer to explain the rules.

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If this material is allowed to be sold - and sold so openly - the Classification Board is sending a message that its OK to want sex with real “live young girls”. It's time for the State and Federal Attorneys-General to intervene and stop it.

These people have been importing porn for a very long time. They should know the rules by now. And all they get is a visit from the community liaison officer, maybe even with a nice cup of tea. Has anyone called the police?

Gale's first letter to the Classification Board was sent on July 31 this year but it was only this week that BP and Shell service stations were required to remove the magazines from more than 600 outlets around Australia.

How many other mistakes have the Board made over the years these titles have been sold? Someone needs to audit the Board.

In the meantime, let's join together in wishing The Australian Sex Party a very short life.

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First published in ABC's Unleashed on November 25, 2008.



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About the Author

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. Melinda is author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief after Abortion (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000), Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (Spinifex Press, 2006) and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Melinda is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation (www.collectiveshout.org). Melinda blogs at www.melindatankardreist.com.

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