Prime Minister Bill English said it is society not Government that will decide how it would deal with pornography.

Speaking at the Forum on the Family, Mr English said his Government is not setting out to have an independent inquiry on the subject as lobbied for by Family First NZ. The forum was held at the Life South Centre in Manukau on July 7.

“If you are looking to Government to be the arbiter of morality, you are going to be constantly and consistently disappointed,” he told Family First national director Bob McCroskie during an on-stage interview.

“What drives, in my view, constructive social behaviour is our families, iwis, churches and communities,” he added.

He noted the proposition of an outright ban on pornography, but admitted the Government does not have a simple solution to the problem.

“In the broader context, the challenging bit with this is what you do about it,” he said.

“I just don’t want to mislead you that the Government has got some simple answer to this energised mix of the Internet and everyone having access to it and the sheer volume of material.”

The discussion, Mr English said, should not be with a “bunch of experts” but “with our parents and children about how they deal with the fact that they always got the choice 24 hours a day to be viewing and influenced by pornography”.

In the same forum, Australian author and advocate for women and girls Melinda Tankard Reist attributed the rise in violence against women to the proliferation of pornography.

“We cannot make a dent in the epidemic violence against women if we don’t address the issue of pornography,” she said.

Ms Tankard Reist said while society is quick to condemn violence against women, it is hesitant to acknowledge the driver of such violence.

Citing studies done in the UK, she said porn is basically everywhere and children are having access to it at a much younger age which distorts their view of sex as “physical and casual rather than affectionate and relational”.

She said a Catholic primary school principal in Sydney showed her a picture collage submitted by a five-year old boy as his school project showing scantily clad women with the little boy’s face in the centre.

“We are to blame. We have engaged in an unprecedented assault on the healthy sexual development of our children and young people by what we have allowed,” she said.

Ms Tankard Reist, however, said anyone can do something about this if they only take the time.

“My one complaint to the Australian Communication and Media Authority means rape simulation games are banned in Australia. I took ten minutes out of my time, wrote a complaint and now Australia is the only country in the world to ban rape games,” she said.

She also encouraged New Zealanders to join their group, Collective Shout for a World Free of Sexploitation.

Those interested can sign up at www.collectiveshout.org .

“We’re trying to build a collective shout movement here in New Zealand. We’re here to empower people to take action,” she said.

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