It is an immense privilege to be attending and presenting at the 2018 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit in Washington DC on behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby and its’ Centre for Human Dignity. Along with around 600 others, I have wept through stories of exploitation and then applauded as we have heard stories of redemption and of great courage in the most awful of circumstances.
It is clear at this Summit that advocacy for the most vulnerable is happening all around the globe and I am grateful that we can join hands to stop sexual exploitation in all of its forms. Can I share with you some of what’s on my heart.
The most prominent factors present for all victims of sexual exploitation are race, sex, age, poverty and history of abuse. To humanity’s shame, children have the highest commercial value in the sex trade world.
Women and children feature most prominently in all pornography where they are turned into objects, degraded, dehumanized and denigrated.
At times it feels as if there is a caste system where people who need money are subjected to the immoral desires of the wealthy west simply to get bread and water.
Over the past 10 years approximately 120 million images of child exploitation have been uploaded online. Contrary to what people in the industry want us to believe, there is NOTHING harmless about pornography. Whenever child exploitation is seen online, remember the viewer is almost always looking at a crime scene.
It is almost too much pain to bear. And it makes most of us want to look away because it is too dreadful. But we dare not look away because it could be my child. That woman could be me, or my cousin, or my best friend. We in our country are outraged about so many things. We fight to save the whales, and the trees, and historic buildings. And we get angry if our coffee is bitter or our steak is tough.
But where is the outrage against pornography?
We know pornography contributes to increased violence towards women, mental health issues for adolescents, the normalisation of paedophilic behaviours, a huge increase of child-on-child sexual assaults, and the glamorisation of power imbalance between men and women - in a day and age when we talk big about the promotion of equality.
I am reminded of that famous quote - ‘not to speak is to speak, not to act is to act’. A society that allows pornography to flourish is a society that enables it to flourish. What you feed, grows.
This is the first generation to have 24/7 access to hardcore pornography.
In Australia, we have never before seen the phenomena which is now happening with 11 and 12 year old boys, calling into Australia’s only phone counselling service asking for help because they are addicted to pornography.
But there is hope. There is always hope. Without hope, people perish.
ACL’s Centre for Human Dignity has produced a research paper entitled Pornography as a Public Health Issue. I have had the privilege of presenting it here at the Global Summit in Washington DC. We will be sending this to every member of parliament in Australia, and all the Director Generals of Education and of Health. Let us know if you would like a copy to raise your voice!
The Centre is also running a petition on the harms of pornography which is attracting strong support but we need more! Please sign if you haven’t already, and share it with your friends, family and colleagues - Pornography is a Health Crisis
At this Global Summit in Washington, I have heard some devastating stories and statistics, but there is also some good news.
Innocence is our children’s birthright, and so we do not give up. Anything else is unthinkable. We roll up our sleeves, we act, and we pray. There is such a thing as righteous anger. We must apply this anger to fighting back with all the strength we can muster. The Centre for Human Dignity is a vehicle to enable you to participate. We’d love to hear from you.
Here in Australia…
The 2nd Australian Summit Against Sexual Exploitation will be held in Melbourne on 27-28 July, and the collaboration that is occurring is extremely encouraging with support from law enforcement, psychologists, parliamentarians, radical feminists, commentators, faith based organisations, survivors from prostitution, and many others. It would be great if you could come.