Charlie Pearce has been convicted of attempted murder. He was obsessed with sexually violent images when he raped and bludgeoned his victim on his 17th birthday, leaving her for dead.
Feminists have used the case to call for an extension to Britain's porn censorship laws about violent porn in particular, and of course, for a wider ban of porn. Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:
This case is extremely disturbing and the age of the offender should alarm us all. The evidence about his searches for online porn before the attack tell us that we urgently need public discussion about the contents of contemporary online
pornography, its accessibility and what is known about the way it influences those who use it.
It is currently a criminal offence in England and Wales to possess pornographic material which is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise obscene and explicitly and realistically depicts life threatening and serious injury.
However pornographic material that is obviously scripted and not realistic is legal. Feminists claim the vast majority of images depicting rape are therefore lawful to possess.
A UK advocacy group says that a new Maltese law criminalisig the possession of extreme pornography risks criminalising sexual minorities.
While criminalising pornography depicting bestiality or necrophilia, the new regulations also make it illegal to possess images which portray non-consensual sexual activity or acts that could result in severe injury , even if the images
are staged and all the participants are consenting adults. Anyone convicted under the new law will be liable to up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 6,000 euro.
Backlash has warned that the British law on which the regulations are based has led to several convictions for possession of pornography depicting BDSM (bondage and dominance, sadism and masochism), rough sex and other common, albeit
non-mainstream, sexual preferences. Nick Cowen of Backlash told the Times of Malta:
There is a wide range of material that could be covered by the law's language, but it is unclear whether or how it could be used by prosecutors
This means people face a lot of uncertainty as to what is illegal, which is potentially very damaging to the rule of law. The law can harm anyone experimenting with alternative sexual acts that can be as safe (or safer) than intercourse.
The lawyer who drafted the regulations has argued that there is a legitimate aim to criminalise pornography which might induce certain people to copy what they are seeing but admitted that there was a bit of a grey area as to what
could be prosecuted.