2 Apr 2015

New law increases child abuse penalty

8:24 pm on 2 April 2015

A new law that will better protect children from sexual exploitation received unanimous support in Parliament today.

The Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill, which passed its final reading, increases the penalties for making, trading or possessing material on child exploitation.

That means the maximum penalty for possessing, importing or exporting objectionable publications doubles to ten years in prison.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said it sent a clear message that activities that sexually exploit children were abhorrent and would not be tolerated.

She said the bill included a new offence of "indecent communication with a young person", which would apply regardless of whether perpetrators contacted victims under the age of 16 online, by text messaging, verbally or by other means.

Stop Demand Foundation, which fights sexual exploitation of children, is supporting the new law.

But group spokesperson Denise Ritchie said some judges were too lenient and needed to toughen up.

She said they should not respond to well-worded submissions by handing out home detention for some child sexual exploitation offences.

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