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Campaigners: 'We need more controls to back up Scottish anti-porn laws'

SCOTTISH campaigners are calling for internet service providers to filter pornographic content amid fears that police are not clamping down on so-called "rape porn".

Organisations and individuals working to eliminate violence against women say not enough is being done to tackle extreme pornography, which became illegal under Scots law in 2011.

They say internet filters should be put in place to stop people from having access to porn sites unless they choose to "opt in".

Plans were announced a decade ago to tighten laws around sites depicting rape, strangulation, torture and necrophilia, after the murder of 31-year-old Jane Longhurst, a teacher from Brighton.

After her death in March 2003 it emerged her killer, Graham Coutts, had been obsessed with websites such as Club Dead and Rape Action, which contained images of women being abused and violated.

Legislation came into force in Scotland two years ago which made it illegal to be in possession of extreme pornographic images, including those depicting rape.

Pressure groups south of the Border, including Rape Crisis, are currently lobbying Westminster to follow in Scotland's footsteps. But some women's groups in Scotland say the current laws don't go far enough.

The calls to make control of pornography even tighter in Scotland came after new figures revealed sex crime rose 5% in the past year.

The statistics, released by the Scottish Government last week, showed almost all other categories of reported crime had fallen except for sexual offences, which saw the number of rapes increase by 16%.

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant, who is pursuing a bill on the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, said pornography, as well as other areas of the sex industry, was linked to "abuse and violence against women".

She said: "Porn gives young people a warped view of women which can lead to a skewed idea of relationships later in life.

"We have to ask if more should be done to make the viewing or downloading of porn from the internet more difficult. I think there should be filters in place to help that process.

Grant questioned why there was no "watershed" online stopping young people from viewing whatever they want.

She said: "If there's a watershed on the TV then why isn't there one for the internet?''

Psychologist Dr Mairead Tagg, of Glasgow East Women's Aid, called for extra funding to be given to organisations, including the police, to do more to charge people found in possession of extreme porn.

She said: "If there were better controls and filters it would help. We know there's a clear link between terrible abuse of women and porn."

Rape Crisis Scotland co-ordinator Sandy Brindley said: "We are concerned about the impact that images or films depicting rape porn has on young people, but the concern goes even beyond rape porn. Research shows the age young people start to access porn is 11."

However, Glasgow-based part-time escort and mum-of-one Laura Lee believes those views are outdated.

"I strongly object to the use of the term 'violence against women' when it comes to any element of the sex industry," she said. "It undermines the seriousness of real violence women have gone through, such as domestic violence.

"I'm a 5ft 9in dominatrix and I pulverise men, tell me what's degrading to women about that.

"Women pursue sex and porn as much as men do. This is 2013, not 1813.''

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the Government was working "closely" with the UK-wide Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) to get to the root of the problem and "ensure the online safety of Scotland's children".

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