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United Nations Proposes Ban Various Anime, Manga, and Games

This is Niche Culture. In this column, we regularly cover anime, geek culture, and things related to video games. Please leave feedback and let us know if there’s something you want us to cover!

The United Nations has proposed a new international initiative dubbed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which as its name implies – is supposed to fight child exploitation, including potential child pornography.

The new initiative is looked at as a “way to prevent human trafficking, curbing the solicitation of child prostitution, and reducing the spread of child pornography and underage exploitation.”

While this sounds perfectly fine, buried in the document are key phrases that seem to be focused on anime and manga that feature “loli” or “shota” characters.

Here’s the section (page 13 section 61 and 62) in question:

Child pornography is defined in article 2 OPSC as ‘any representation of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities, regardless of the means used, or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes’. The qualification ‘by whatever means’ reflects the broad range of material available in a variety of media, online and offline. It includes, inter alia: visual material such as photographs, movies, drawings and cartoons; audio representations; any digital media representation; live performances; written materials in print or online; and physical objects such as sculptures, toys, or ornaments.1

The Committee urges States parties to prohibit, by law, child sexual abuse material in any form. The Committee notes that such material is increasingly circulating online, and strongly recommends States parties to ensure that relevant provisions of their Criminal Codes cover all forms of material, including when the acts listed in article 3.1(c) are committed online and including when such material represents realistic representations of non-existing children.

The issue with this document is the wording is ambiguous, the only thing we really have to go on are cartoons and drawings that “contribute to normalising the sexualization of children” and “fuels the demand of child sexual abuse material.”

Here’s the related comment:

“The Committee is of the view that “simulated explicit sexual activities” should be interpreted as including any material, online or offline, that depicts or otherwise represents any person appearing to be a child engaged in real or simulated sexually explicit conduct and realistic and/or virtual depictions of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Such depictions contribute to normalising the sexualisation of children and fuels the demand of child sexual abuse material.

Moreover, for the reasons explained in paragraph 63, any representation of the sexual parts of a child, including realistic images of the sexual organs of a child, for primarily sexual purposes falls under the definition of this offence. Where it may be complicated to establish with certainty if a representation is intended or used for “primarily sexual purposes”, the Committee deems it necessary to consider the context in which it is being used.”

The only way to avoid falling under this scrutiny is if the context of what the content is being used for – meaning the committee within the UN will have to view and analyze every manga, novel, or even video game.

Lastly, the method of enforcing these new restrictions leaves too much room for regulatory bodies or governments to abuse it. You can read the message below:

“As a minimum, States parties must establish criminal jurisdiction over all offences mentioned in article 3, para. 1, as explained under the section on Prohibition, when they are committed in their territory, including on board of a ship or aircraft registered in their countries, regardless of the location of said ship or aircraft. This allows the State to investigate and prosecute all these offences regardless whether the alleged perpetrator or the victim is a national of that State. If necessary, the State can issue an international warrant for the arrest of the alleged perpetrator. The Committee urges States parties to adopt legislation to comply with this obligation if this is not already the case.”

How do you feel about the United Nations proposing these new restrictions? Sound off in the comments below!

Brandon Orselli

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Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.