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Majority of Irish people agree that pornography is harming society, Women's Aid report finds

Women were more likely than men to believe that pornography was detrimental to young people.

MOST IRISH PEOPLE believe that pornography is too accessible to children, and that it is contributing to gender inequality, coercion and sexual violence against women and girls, according to a RedC survey commissioned by Women’s Aid.

75% of people agree that pornography makes children and young people vulnerable to requests to share intimate images and videos.

The survey also found that 81% of 18-25 year olds believe that pornography is increasing young men’s interest in seeking rough or violent sex.

71% believe that the Government and tech companies should do more to protect children and young people from exposure to pornography and must do more to support victims of image-based sexual abuse.

Despite a majority consensus in the study, Women’s Aid noted that there was a statistically significant difference between male and female attitudes and levels of concern about pornography.

CEO of Women’s Aid, Sarah Benson, said:

“While the majority of men (60%) agree that pornography is harmful to society, the level of concern is significantly higher among women (82%).”

“This gendered difference in opinion is consistent across almost every area of concern. The survey also found that there is a majority belief that pornography undermines men’s respect for women, but not that it reduces women’s respect for men.

“This is most likely explained because pornography consistently and disproportionately portrays women in extreme degrading, humiliating and dehumanised ways – and because the most negative impacts of pornography in Ireland are experienced directly by women and girls,” Benson said.

“They are bearing the brunt of the harm.”

81% of all respondents want age-appropriate sexuality and relationships education in all schools which includes a focus on the negative consequences of exposure to pornography.

Women’s Aid say its frontline support workers regularly hear disclosures where pornography is playing a role in the verbal, sexual and physical abuse women are subjected to by their male partners.

The new ‘Time To Talk About Porn’ report includes statistics from a national representative survey conducted by RedC, confirm that the majority of the Irish public believe that porn is directly contributing to coercion and violence against women and girls, including image-based sexual abuse.

There was strong support for age-appropriate education for children and young people about sex, relationships, mutuality, consent, and respect as part of school SPHE and RSE curriculum.

Women’s Aid is encouraged that pornography is specifically named as an issue that needs to be challenged in the Irish Government’s Third National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence 2022-2026. 

The organisation has recommended more in-depth research scoping the scale and impact of the porn industry, the impacts on children and young people’s healthy sexual development, image-based sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation in Ireland.

“Rejecting degrading and negative sexual and gender stereotypes and standing up to industries that perpetuate these, is to everyone’s benefit now and for future generations,” Benson concluded.