-Report prepared by the Committee on Women's -Rights and Gender Equality -MEPs will vote next Tuesday possibly resulting in ban of all pornography -Bill calls for regulatory agencies that could impose sanctions for breaches The European Parliament is preparing to vote on a proposal to ban all forms of pornography. A report detailing the ban was prepared by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. Embedded under Article 17 of the report is a clause that, if eventually made into law, would effectively ban pornography across all types of media, including the Internet, in Europe. Freedom of speech campaigners have criticised the move, claiming that the clause has been quietly inserted into the legislation. They also described the inclusion of the article as an 'unacceptable political invasion of people’s bedrooms'. Dutch MEP Kartika Liotard, introduced the report which recommended a 'ban all forms of pornography in the media,' including what it refers to as 'the digital field.' But the report does not distinguish between different types of pornography, or indeed what media the bill refers to. However, it is expected that MEPs will amend the bill to clarify that the clause refers to pornography in the context of advertising. The bill also calls for the establishment of regulatory agencies with 'a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualisation of girls.' Next Tuesday the 754 MEPs of the Parliament will be voting on whether to endorse the conclusions of a report called 'Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU.' Yesterday Floella Benjamin, who sits as a Lib Dem peer in the Lords, warned of an ‘epidemic’ of violent online porn, which is leading youngsters on a ‘seemingly unstoppable march into a moral wasteland’. Baroness Benjamin said girls were becoming increasingly sexualised while more and more boys were treating them as little more than ‘sexual objects’. In an impassioned speech to mark today’s International Women’s Day, she said boys were pressurising girls into degrading behaviour. ‘I believe we have opened a Pandora’s box and I have no answer as to how we can reverse the trend of the sexual objectification of women and how to protect our children against its influence,’ she said. The idea of banning pornography is beginning to gather pace. Last month it was reported that Iceland could become the first Western democracy to block all internet porn under radical new proposals. Fears about the damaging effects on children have led the government to work on legal measures to try and stop the flood of graphic sexual material reaching the island’s shores. Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson has set up working parties to find the best ways to stem the tide of online images and videos being accessed by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones. Methods under consideration include blocking porn IP addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access x-rated sites. A law forbidding the printing and distribution of porn has long been in place in the Nordic nation – but it has yet to be updated to cover the internet. Two years ago, the Icelandic Parliament – led by female prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir - successfully banned all strip clubs on the grounds that they violated the civil rights of the women who worked there and were harmful to society. This argument - that porn violates the rights of both women who appear in it and children who are exposed to it - is the cornerstone of the new proposals under discussion. The move is likely to be monitored by Prime Minister David Cameron who has said he finds it ‘utterly appalling’ that so many children in the UK have been exposed to the ‘darkest corners’ of the internet. The Daily Mail has also been campaigning for an automatic block on online pornography that means customers must ‘opt in’ for access. Recent comments by Labour frontbenchers, like Diane Abbott, suggests an emerging political consensus on the need for radical thinking to deal with the 'pornification' of childhood. While countries like China have also tried to stamp out internet pornogaphy within its borders, this is the first attempt by a Western democracy.
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