Danish Report Discredits Link Between Cartoons and Child Sex Abuse

July 25, 2012
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The Copenhagen Post reveals that a report issued by experts at Sexologisk Klinik discredits claims that cartoon depictions of underaged characters engaging in sex acts encourage people to commit child sex crimes in real life. The report to the justice ministry states: “We have had to acknowledge that there is no evidence that the use of fictive images of sexual assaults on children alone can lead people to conduct sexual assaults on children.”

The report was ordered by former justice minister Lars Barfod in response to calls to ban comics and animation depicting minors engaged in sex acts, including prominent manga genres. It arrives less than six weeks after the Swedish Supreme Court overturned the conviction of manga translator Simon Lundström on child pornography charges relating to manga files on his computer, and marks another positive development towards separating the prosecution of drawn images from photographs under child pornography laws.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been active in defending American readers of manga against false allegations that the comics in their possession constitute child pornography. Most recently, the Fund scored a victory in this area when Canadian authorities dropped false importation of child pornography charges against American reader Ryan Matheson as a result of his CBLDF supported defense.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “We are pleased to see that this report was commissioned and gratified by its findings. Prosecutors around the world have been attacking comics readers with bogus child pornography allegations for too long. In the States, we’ve seen this trend bring tragic developments, such as the imprisonment of Christopher Handley, whose habit of reading manga, including sexual manga, was acknowledged by government prosecutors as posing no threat to real people, but who was still bullied into pleading guilty and going to jail.”

Brownstein adds, “Child pornography is photographic evidence of a horrible crime against real people. Drawings are the product of artistic and imaginative expression. Governments need to stop treating them as interchangeable. We welcome the science in this report demonstrating that comics are art and do not encourage people to commit sex crimes.”

The Copenhagen Post reports:

Jacob Mchangama, director of legal affairs at the liberal think tank Cepos, welcomed the verdict.

“It’s gratifying that we now have documentation that as far as we are aware there is no connection between animated child pornography and actual crimes, meaning there is no need to further criminalise this area,” Mchangama told Information. “The whole affair is a classic example of something catching the eye of a politician who finds a need to symbolically change the law without actually looking at the facts.”

Flemming Møller Mortensen, the Socialdemokraterne culture spokesperson, also welcomed the report.

“It is good that the Sexologisk Klinik has looked into this,” Møller told Information. “As long as it cannot be proven that these drawings encourage damaging behaviour then I think we ought to protect freedom of speech and artistic expression.”

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CBLDF thanks Member Jeffrey Rolek for bringing this report to our attention.