Like most human right advocates Not Buying It is non-political, however we also need to challenge harmful policies where they exist. And, unfortunately, when it comes to the Lib Dem's there are an awful lot that need to be challenged:
1. Lib Dems: For Porn for Kids
The Lib Dems already overwhelming opposed the Internet 'opt in' scheme introduced in the UK - a safeguarding measure brought in to try and prevent the Tsunami of porn children face.
'Opt in' merely means porn is not automatically available to households but has to be actively 'opted in to'. However, even this minor adjustment to try to safeguard children was seen as extreme and 'illiberal'.
2017 and the party has taken this stance a step further. At Spring Conference the party's consultation paper on pornography calls on members to vote against proposals now passing through Parliament to ensure age verification for porn sites, without proposing any alternatives to stop the Tsumani of porn our children are now exposed to.
In fact the party seems to think porn is something that children occassionally 'stumble across', ignoring the voices of parents, academics, children's groups and even children themselves. Ignoring the facts. Study after study shows that ever increasing numbers of under-age children (over 50% at the most conservative estimate) are accessing hardcore porn. The majortiy of them are not actively seeking it out but are having it foisted upon them, for example by pop up ads.
What's worse, a large proportion of children viewing this porn (and this is porn that shows women being hit, chocked and asphyixated with a heavy emphasis on violent anal sex) feel it is a realistic depiction of sex and become increasingly desensitised to it with many boys saying they want to emulate it. The NSPCC even fears that a possilbe 10% of 12-13 year olds are addicted to pornography.
2. Lib Dems: For Pornographers
The Lib Dems don't just seem to be pro-porn but pro-pornographer, backing them at the highest level as their party's representatives.
Pornographer Anna 'Span' was selected as Parliamentary candidate under the blessing of then-leader Nick Clegg, with her 'feminist porn' consisting of the usual line-up of sex acts of women servicing men. Span herself is a renowned defender of rape porn.
More recently, pornographer Michelle Gent, a former Lib Dem councillor for Ashfield, Nottingham, was apparently using local party HQ to recruit for porn films.
3. Lib Dems: For Pimps
The Lib Dems have for many years adopted pro-sex industry policies. Sadly, 2017 policy is no different. Under this, prostitution is 'just work' and pimps are 'business men'. Concerns of the vast majority of women's groups including survivors of the sex trade have been ignored for decades. The reason? The Lib Dems, along with many others such as human rights group Amnesty International, have adopted policies based on the interests of known pimps, brothel keepers and even jailed sex traffickers. This includes 'super pimp' Douglas Fox, owner of a large UK Escort Agency, who skipped jail on a technicality and Alexjandra Gil, a known pimp and now jailed sex trafficker.
These same pimps and traffickers are also advocates for various sex 'workers' groups (using the term sex 'worker' of course brings pimps and brothel keepers into the equation). These are the self-same groups that have successfully lobbied Amnesty, the Lib Dems and even the United Nations to adopt the pro-industry policies that of course further their key players' own profiteering interests. Super pimp Fox was not just part of the powerful International Union of Sex Workers, but got its members to join Amnesty in order to push forward pro-prostitution policies. Trafficker Gil has influnced at the highest level - as a known pimp she was not ony a leader of pro-prostitution group NSWP but ensured the UN adopted pro-sex industry policies. Even after she was jailed for sex trafficking these policies have not been revisted by the UN.
Trafficker Gil's NSWP have even been paid to the tune of £100,000 under the coalition Government Home Office scheme championed by Lib Dem minister, Lynne Featherstone, to promote safer sex 'work' - further legitimising key sex industry players and their views.
It is not surprising then that Lib Dem Councillor, Denis Parsons, recently suggested prostitution should be offered as a career choice to school girls (and perhaps pimping, sorry, 'management', to the boys). After all, as far as he and his party are concerned, prostitution is 'just work'. It is a job no different from accountancy and apparently the main problem with it is 'stigma' (an entire section on the policy paper being devoted to this). These comments caused such public outrage that the Councillor resigned, although he was barely rebuked by Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron
Interestingly the 2017 policy paper specifically advises that sex 'work' be ommitted from career advice programmes - surely the party isn't being asked to totally ignore its principles in order to avoid causing further outrage?
4. Lib Dems: For 16 Year Olds in Porn?
New policy quietly refers only to 18 year olds producing hardcore porn.
For years, The Lib Dems advocated for children as young as 16 to perform in hard core pornography, based on arguments such as 'you can die for your country at 16, so why can't you make porn' (incorrectly as it turns out, as you cannot actually face active service until 18). It is a welcome improvement to see a policy of promoting underage children in porn finally being scratched from the records.
But there's more...
5. Lib Dems: For Violence Against Women
Unfortunately 2017 policy condemns any move to end the high levels of violence against women now seen in mainstream porn. 90% of the top selling porn shows physical violence against the women (often teenage girls) in it. This includes hitting, choking, gagging, asphyxiation, usually accompanied by a torrent of verbal abuse. This is mainstream pornographic fodder, it is not niche porn or 'S and M' with safe words. It is not 'risque sex' within a mutual, consenting relationship. This is porn where a man walks into a room, hits a teenage girl 8 times in the face followed by another man who walks in and hits her in the face, followed by violent sex.
But the party is strongly urging its members to reject the Digital Economy Bill currently passing through Parliament to clamp down on the worst extremes of the porn industry, comparing such a move with the actions of a dictatorship.
When women are abused in porn it is not pretense, they are actually being abused. When men watch such porn time after time it directly effects their views of women and their relationships with them. In a society where 10 million women are abused by men - most often by their own partners - how can anything that contributes to the attitdes that lead to this abuse ever be acceptable?
6. Lib Dems: For Rapists?
The party has also held a policy of anonymity for rapists for the last decade. A policy that the Lib Dems have tried to push through Parliament at least twice since they adopted it. This is despite that fact that there no more 'false accusations' of rape than for any other crime (5%), indeed possibly less. This is despite the fact that it is only by naming a suspect that other victims come forward, often providing the only possible chance for justice. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of victims (75-95%) never even report rape, with only 6% of rapes that are reported resulting in conviction. Some suggest that a possible 99% of men who commit rape never get convicted.
No other suspected criminal, whether terrorist or paedophile, is given anonymity despite the stigma that might arise, the main rationale given by the Lib Dems for seeking anonymity for suspected rapists (the other being that it is anti-equality to give female victims anonymity but not male perpetrators). The fact that the Lib Dems have only called for anyonymity for rape suspects and not any other type of suspected criminal - in otherwords, for a crime essentially carried out by men against women - speaks volumes.
7. Lib Dems: For Equality?
Perhaps it is by now no surprise to hear that the Lib Dems opposed all-female shortlisting for nearly 2 decades. This is desipte this being the only proven, sure-fire way to rapidly address the dismaly low levels of women in local and central government. Apparently the party considered this 'patronising' (whereas telling women they would have to wait an anticipated 100 years for equality in Parliament was not).