Media Release

Classification Review Board fails to protect children from abuse in ‘Cuties’ ruling

The sexually explicit dance movie Cuties, with actresses aged 12 to 14, was cleared for adult entertainment by the Classification Review Board on Friday 23 October, classifying it as MA15+.

“This Netflix film sexually exploits children as young as 12 years old with a sustained focus on their sexual parts in extended explicit dance scenes that simulate sex,” ACL spokesperson Wendy Francis said. “The Classification Review Board’s decision on Friday understated the dancing as ‘sexually suggestive’.”

“In making submissions to the Board on Friday, ACL made it clear that these sexual poses fit the definition of ‘child abuse material’ under section 473.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Child abuse material includes depicting a person under 18 who is engaged in a sexual pose or sexual activity in a way that a reasonable person would regard as being, in all the circumstances, offensive.

“Even if the Board could not declare that a crime had occurred, we emphasised that Australia’s Classification Guidelines prescribe that classification should be refused for ‘depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18’.

“No storyline or alleged commentary against the sexual exploitation of children can justify the actual sexual exploitation of children involved in these camera shoots.

“The children in this film have been sexualised for mass entertainment. The highly sexualised scenes, in particular the last extended dance scene, constitute sexual exploitation of children. Such scenes should not be filmed or distributed. If this film had emerged from the dark web, or in another context, it would immediately be recognised as child abuse material”, Mrs Francis said.

Janet Matthews, Registered Psychologist, in an opinion provided to the Board, stated:

“It is a film purporting to be an exposé of the sexualisation of young girls while in fact sexually exploiting young girls to achieve this purported end. Meanwhile it provides salacious fodder for pedophiles. In my professional view it is a production that masquerades as an exposé but in fact it exploits its young and vulnerable cast to their developmental detriment. It normalises and desensitises society to the sexualisation of pubescent girls. In my opinion it is an exercise in cynicism which blatantly ignores the harm it will cause to society for purely commercial purposes.”

ACL calls on Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs and the Australian Federal Police to intervene and conduct a criminal investigation of this film relating to ‘child abuse material’ under the Commonwealth Criminal Code.


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