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An invasion of pornography

By Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Monday, 23 July 2007

Alcohol and drugs are well accepted as causing rampant dysfunction in places already beaten down by dispossession, disempowerment, unemployment, ill health and poor education. But the trauma caused by the invasion of pornography has not been properly acknowledged at an official level.

The Northern Territory Government’s Little Children Are Sacred report, about violence against Indigenous women and children in the Territory, changes that.

A toxic trifecta of drugs, alcohol and pornography is fuelling a culture of violence against women and children. They are being bashed, raped, disabled and killed. Their communities have disintegrated; they live lives of desperation and terror.


Predictably, the sex industry and their sex radical friends are crying “censorship” in response to the Federal Government’s decision to crack down on porn in these communities. They want business as usual. Yet Indigenous women themselves are identifying pornography as one of the agents of destruction in their communities.

Children suffering porn-driven sexual abuse should come before sex industry profits. Children whose genitals have to be reconstructed, and the babies with sexually transmitted infections, need protection now.

The Little Children are Sacred report tells of rampant sexually aggressive behaviour, of children being exposed to porn films and re-enacting what they have seen, of porn being used by adults to groom children for sex. Sexual callousness reigns. The reports authors state:

It was … confirmed … that pornography was a major factor in communities and that it should be stopped. The daily diet of sexually explicit material has had a major impact, presenting young and adolescent Aboriginals with a view of mainstream sexual practice and behaviour which is jaundiced. It encourages them to act out the fantasies they see on screen or in magazines. Exposure to pornography was also blamed for the sexualised behaviour evident in quite young children.

Pornography has contributed to a breakdown in cultural restraint; the devastation of moral and ethical systems which once protected women and children.

These isolated communities have been destroyed by white men bearing not gifts, but pornography. Pornography has fed dysfunction, increased cycles of violence and added cumulative experiences of trauma.


The report continues:

It is apparent that children in Aboriginal communities are widely exposed to inappropriate sexual activity such as pornography, adult films and adults having sex within the child’s view.

This exposure can produce a number of effects, particularly resulting in the “sexualisation” of childhood and the creation of normalcy around sexual activity that may be used to engage children in sexual activity. It may also result in sexual “acting out”, and actual offending, by children and young people against others …

Children were becoming more out of control as a consequence of living in an environment in which increased levels of abusive behaviour are seen as normal.

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This is an expanded version of an article which appeared in The Courier-Mail on July 11, 2007.

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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 ( Melinda blogs at

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