Australian politician Pauline Hanson has made headlines for her calls on tougher acts of corporal punishment against those convicted of sex offences—believing that those specifically guilty of sex crimes against children (paedophiles) should be chemically castrated. Despite the controversy that surrounds the judicial tactic, JOE reported that versions of the sanction are actually legal in many countries for special circumstances.
Hanson is a member and leader of One Nation—a right-wing populist party—and spoke exclusively to Daily Mail Australia about the need for chemical castration as well as the implementation of a national database of child sex offenders. “I support chemical castration and tougher penalties for paedophiles, and the establishment of a national database of paedophiles,” she explained.
Chemical castration is the medical process of lowering the level of male hormones (like testosterone) specifically in the testicular area. It is an ongoing treatment—administered by injection or implants under the skin—that is typically used for hormone therapy or cancer-related regimen but has historically also been used as punishment for sexual violence. The aim? To reduce sexual libido in the offender.
There are a number of issues that arise from such a tactic. First, it may require ongoing compliance from the person in question. There also are obvious medical ethical concerns that should be taken into consideration and lastly, there is actually very little evidence to suggest that lowering sex drive actually prevents sexual violence, Healthline noted.
Regardless, Australia is not the first country to have chemical castration as part of public political discourse. In 2020, Pakistan made news for the legalisation of the practice as punishment for sex crimes—the clause has since been removed in 2021. The method remains legal (in varying ways/levels of frequency) in countries like Poland, Russia, South Korea, UK and even some states across the US.
“People are very concerned about their children’s safety and they want strong laws and penalties for those convicted of paedophilia,” Hanson added. “For sex offences not involving children, I consider it appropriate for the presiding magistrate or judge to determine the [correct] penalty under the relevant law.”
If Hanson does decide to proceed with attempting to introduce such legislation for a national database, the common consensus among reports is that she will likely face opposition. When speaking to the politician, the Daily Mail cited the case of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton who in 2019 tried, and failed, to establish a “name and shame” register. Under his initial policy, paedophiles’ personal information—including their names, other aliases, their location, images of them as well as their crime itself—would be made public.
However, according to LADbible, Hanson might just succeed where Dutton failed with potential allies like Premier Peter Malinauskas in the mix. Malinauskas reportedly vowed back in March 2022 that if Labor was voted into office, a sex offender registry would be launched. Citing reports from InDaily, the publication noted how such promises are being kept by South Australian Labor with stricter changes to child sex criminal sentencing set to be introduced.
While family vlogs gripped YouTube in the early 2010s, the accounts monetising its supposedly kid-friendly fun has since undergone a tomato pelting in the court of public opinion. Gone are the attitudes of innocent and playful fun. Now, sceptics are rightfully questioning the lack of protection such famous kid influencers have—unable to consent to their image being used for their family’s gain. One such family is the Saccone Jolys, an infamous household of six (plus six dogs) that filmed their day-to-day lives on YouTube. During the 2010s, the family exploded into popularity but have since been criticised for the exploitation of their children ‘for views’.
Though not directly mentioned in the report, the virality of such discussions seem to have caught the attention of the UK parliament—as MPs warn that child influencers in the country must be protected from exploitation. Julian Knight, the Conservative chair of the committee, stated that the unsettling online reality had left children vulnerable to danger, The Guardian reported. “The rise of influencer culture online has brought significant new opportunities for those working in the creative industries and a boost to the UK economy,” he said.
“However, as is so often the case where social media is involved, if you dig below the shiny surface of what you see on screen you will discover an altogether murkier world where both the influencers and their followers are at risk of exploitation and harm online,” Knight continued.
In a landmark report published Monday 9 May 2022, it was cited that many children were being exploited by their own parents online, aiming to capitalise on the ‘kidfluencer’ market. Not only did the investigation unveil vast regulatory gaps surrounding their protection and advertising rules but it also highlighted the potentially life-long mental health consequences of being exposed to evidenced harassment and kidnapping threats.
“As with other influencers, monetising successful child and family influencer profiles can be the primary source of income for a family,” the report read, as published by The Telegraph. “It is well understood that fame at a young age can have damaging effects on a child’s development. The precise effect of social media fame, which can be constant and far more personal, has not yet been explored. However, there is evidence that social media fame can have serious mental consequences,” it continued.
Though the concept is relatively new—as in it hasn’t been around for that long—the impact it has on a child’s development could be indefinite. One such case has been around public concern for the Saccone Joly child that the internet has titled ‘E’. E, who was born Eduardo and later changed to Edie, has made headlines for having their transgender journey documented online—one that some argue they were pushed to do, with others allegedly evidencing that E has previously stated they didn’t identify as either gender. The family challenged those claims on Sky News:
The TikTok onslaught, married with the ‘exposing’ resurged 2019 documentary on the family titled Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over: The Family Who Live Online, eventually led the YouTuber parents to delete their entire channel. And just like that, thousands of videos were scrubbed clean from the internet. Thanks to such clearance of their content, SCREENSHOT is unable to accurately substantiate the accusations made above by social media users. However, it may be likely that such viral issues have played a part in parliamentary discussion around the subject, leading MPs to worry about the “dark side” of kidfluencer culture.
Sarah Adams, otherwise known as @mom.uncharted on TikTok, previously spoke to SCREENSHOT as part of an investigation into the phenomenon of such ‘mommy-ran accounts’ and the dangers of ‘sharenting’. For Adams, the issues surrounding kidfluencers boil down to three major points, “One: the exploitation of children for fame and financial gain. Two: privacy and consent—children cannot give informed consent [as well as] their right to privacy infringed upon. And three: the disregard, or lack of knowledge on the dangers/potential consequences, for the child’s online safety.”
Adams went on to state that, worryingly, not only does the world of hyper-consumerism and materialism inadvertently poison children with unhealthy ideals but their overexposure online makes them susceptible to a dark web of paedophile rings. Interestingly, Dooley posed a question that touches upon the same topic to Jonathon Saccone Joly in her documentary. “How would you feel in your heart of hearts if it became apparent that a paedophile had been looking at your children, had been masturbating over your children for example?” she asked.
To which Saccone Joly replied, “It’s such an odd question… I don’t know how you’d feel, obviously is it a terrible thing? It’s like… I don’t really know how to answer… I don’t really make content for that purpose, I just make it as difficult as I can for my content to be consumed that way.”
“I don’t think there’s any footage out there… there probably was in our early stuff I’ll admit that, we made mistakes,” he continued.
The report concluded its findings by stating that it is “deeply concerned that a lack of action in the booming influencer market will lead to even more children in the industry being exploited, with potentially lifelong consequences.” With it becoming a booming element in the UK market, the committee which led the investigation are calling for stronger child labour laws that can better combat the complexities of the kidfluencer industry—implementing limits on working hours, the protection of their earnings as well as enforcing the child’s right to erasure.