Tuesday, July 15, 2008

History of Child Pornography in Australia

One visitor came to this site because he/she searched on the history of child pornography in Australia. My one post on the Henson matter came up number five on the Google search. This got me thinking.

I know of no history of child pornography in Australia. I suppose there is a problem here in a general sense because you have to access to sources to write a history, and I know of no sources in this area. Indeed, to write a history you would now have to download illegal material.

That said, I do not think that Australia can be said in any way to have a history of child pornography until very recently. It did not exist or, to the degree that it did exist, it involved smutty photos exchanged in private.

This is not to say that we did not have a paedophile problem however defined. We clearly did. But child pornography, again however defined, seems to be new.


Anonymous said...

My mind did boggle at this...

I am sure child pornography existed in some form somewhere... There are certainly English and European precedents, and possibly even studies. And there are certainly histories of childhood, an interesting and rather flexible concept itself, it turns out.

But I have to say my mind boggled as I thought back to when I was proposing thesis topics (for English, admittedly) in 1963-4 at Sydney U. "English hymns of the 18th century" was one. I am rather glad I didn't... I ended up with "King Lear" instead.

We "had to" read illegal material for English back in 1962: D H Lawrence was on the menu, but "Lady Chatterley" had to hide in plain brown paper, seeing officially there were none in Australia at that time...

Jim Belshaw said...

The studies of childhood are interesting Neil. I first came across them, sidetracked into them really, when I was doing my PhD.

Because David Drummond had been both a ward of the state and a minister whose responsibilities included child welfare, I looked at the history of the child welfare system. This sidetracked me into changing attitudes to children and childhood.

I found it fascinating that child hood itself appeared to be such a recent invention, with kids in some ways going straight from infancy to young adulthood.

You may well be right that child pornography existed in Australia in some form somewhere. As evidenced by the Lady C case ( a book I found greatly disappointing when I did get to read it!), social mores and the presence of censorship made it highly unlikely that someone like me would ever come across such stuff.

I do think that King Lear was a wise choice, by the way.