The Edmonton Journal
Tuesday, March 10, 1998

MLA suggests severe penalty for makers of kiddie porn

by Tom Arnold

Pornographers who use children as subjects should have their penises cut off, a Conservative MLA told a provincial government committee Monday.

"In Saudi Arabia, thieves who steal have their hands chopped off", said Shiraz Shariff, a Calgary MLA and a child welfare worker.

Reaction among the committee of Tory MLAs to the controversial comment was muted.

In an interview later, Shariff said people "who exploit children for sexual exploitation and pornography, there has to be some real severe punishment and penalty for that. We just can't let them away."

Shariff said he was not sure the appropriate deterrents are currently in place for people who exploit children.

"There has to be enough deterrence or penalty to put them away for a very long time or deal with them in a very drastic way. I used this Saudi Arabian analogy as an extreme but there has to be some good deterrence or our children become victimized."

Citizens of Alberta For Positive Community Standards, a Lethbridge-based group, appealed to the Conservative community services committee for legislative changes regarding pornography.

It asked the government to lobby Ottawa for changes to obscenity laws. "Our main concern is the devastating effects pornography can have on the family", said group spokesperson Richard Low. "Family breakdown equates to societal breakdown. The issue of pornography is not just a moral issue but also a sociological and psychological one as well.

"We need to protect ourselves and our children from the pornographic filth around us."

Low also called on the government to bring in educational programs in schools to inform children of the dangers of pornography.

Pornography promotes promiscuity by portraying "sex as an appetite for gratification" and has been directly linked to sexual assault, Low told the committee. He said it portrays women in a negative light, which leads to dysfunctional relationships. And all such things harm children, he said.

"I don't think there's any question that it can have a profound effect on children", said Calgary MLA Denis Herard.

Copyright © 1998 by The Edmonton Journal. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.