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5. Australia debates about child nudity

"The evil is in the eye of the beholder"

1. The Bill Nelson case 
2. The case of the girl on the cover of Arts Monthly Australia  

Since May 2008, two publicly showed photos of naked young children have started a public debate in which, among other questions, fear of child nudity and artistic freedom combated. Even the Prime Minister, but also the photographed children play their role in this debate. The two cases were an exhibition of photos of artist Bill Nelson and the cover photo on the magazine Art Monthly. We follow the cases by giving quotes from the media. 

1. The Bill Nelson case 

Start of the case: politicians, thus police, and a psychologist

The Herald Sun, May 23, 2008: 

> Police expect to lay charges after seizing more than 20 photographs from 
a controversial photo exhibition featuring images of naked girls. Rose Bay Local Area Commander Allan Sicard said NSW Police expected to lay charges over the images - taken in a Melbourne studio - by artist Bill Henson, which were to go on display at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Paddington last night. The exhibition was shut down just before it was due to open. [...] Earlier, police seized several nude images of children from the gallery . 

The news came as the gallery said it would take down the pictures after 
the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described them as "revolting". 
The exhibition features photos of naked 12 and 13-year-old children. [...] "I don't understand why we can't allow kids just to have their childhood and just enjoy their childhood. I really have a problem with this," Mr Rudd told the Nine Network this morning. 

NSW Premier Morris Iemma also weighed in from China, condemning the 
exhibition. "I find it offensive and disgusting. I don't understand why parents 
would agree to allow their kids to be photographed like this," Mr Iemma 

NSW Minister for the Arts Frank Sartor saw the images - some of which 
may have been taken up to a decade ago - yesterday and said they crossed 
the line. "I have been shown some of the images and I don't like them," 
he said. "I'm sure these images will be debated by the community. Ultimately, I think these images do push the boundaries and I can understand why people would be offended." <

The same newspaper on the same day wrote: 

> Photographs of naked 12- and 13-year-olds by a leading Australian photographer could give people a taste for pedophilia, a clinical psychologist says. [..] "People who would never cross the line in the past, they would never have sought out photos of naked children are now doing it because it's so accessible," psychologist Jo Lamble said the Seven Network today. "They might look at something like that and think: 'Oh, OK, well that's art, so that's OK, it's tasteful', but it can give them the taste for it."

Ms Lamble says that although she believes Mr Henson is not a pedophile, 
his photographs still send the wrong message about the sexualisation of children. [...] "Even if they are beautiful, even if the mood and lighting and the composition is beautiful and it's a very talented artist, it's still giving the wrong messages because you don't know who's viewing them," she says. 

And Newspaper The West wrote on the same day:

> Child protection advocate Hetty Johnston backed the move to prosecute, 
saying pornography and pedophilia were rife in society. "You can call it anything you want, but at the end of the day, these are images of naked adolescents," said Ms Johnston, of the children's organisation Bravehearts. "Putting naked photos up there on public display in a gallery, and even on the internet, is just totally betraying our duty of care to children."

> NSW Department of Community Services Minister Kevin Greene said the 
images were inappropriate. "As a father, and as a minister responsible for child protection services, I think some of the images in this exhibition, including those 
that were available online until late yesterday, are highly inappropriate," he said.

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell praised the police response to the 
"disgusting" images. "As a parent of young children, the sexualisation of children under the guise of art is totally unacceptable," he said.

The debate starts

> Understandably the topic of the pictures provoked impassioned debate in 
our LIVENEWS.com.au newsroom, wrote Livenews already on the same day in an article, titled "Paedophilia or art?" 

> Politicians of all colours, sensing an easy free kick, have all lined up for a go over the last 24 hours since the story was beaten into an issue by right-wing columnist, Miranda Devine. [...] Sadly their [= The Daily Telegraph] extreme moral-panic style commentary has left little room for a community debate.

> While some thought the whole thing disgusting others claimed that if such images were more commonplace they would lose their value as titillation, that is, it's only the way we react to them that makes then dirty. 

> But it isn't fair to say the images constitute the "sexualisation of children" as Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell has charged. Having looked at them, I really have to wonder if these are the kind of images a sexual predator would desire. They seem altogether too dark and moody for that. But sadly, few will be able to form their own view. Not only have they lost the opportunity to see the images, but the water has been irrevocably muddied by the hysterical commentary our socially conservative columnists and opportunistic politicians. < 

A more rational approach appeared in The Australian the next day, May 24: 

> Porn case is likely to fail; Chris Merritt: The success rate in obscenity trials in Australia is extremely low - and experts believe the looming case against renowned photographer Bill Henson will prove no different. [...] The case will almost certainly boil down to a decision by either a magistrate or a jury on whether the photographs are obscene. < 

The Age gives on May 26 an article named "The controversial career of Bill Henson". Read: he has more nudes photographed in his career. The article ends with a quote: 

> Forty years ago, artist Martin Sharp was famously tried for obscenity because of a piece he wrote for Oz magazine. Last week he received an invitation to Henson's exhibition, which features a topless 13-year-old. "It was a powerful image. I would call it very beautiful in its vulnerability rather than 'revolting' as the Prime Minister has done," Sharp said. The photograph suggested the girl "gave her trust to Henson - and this trust has been violated by the police and Kevin Rudd's comments."

The Herald Sun, May 26: 

> Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin said the topic warranted further discussion. "I think the use of photographs and billboards, and the way in which 
children are portrayed in so many different parts of our society these days, is wrong," she said. "I certainly expect that as part of the discussion around our national child protection framework we get some clear indications of where 
national policy should go on this issue." <

SMH, May 27: Police widen Henson inquiry; Josephine Tovey, Les Kennedy and Jonathan Dart:

> Criminal investigations into Bill Henson have widened to include previous work by the controversial photographer, after police received complaints about several Henson works on display at a regional gallery. Police advised the Albury Regional Art Gallery to take down several photographs by the artist dating back to 1985, after they received a complaint from the public about "inappropriate" images, which they are investigating. 

> Henson's work is held in a number of regional and state galleries, including the National Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, though no other gallery has removed any Henson work from display. 

Here follows a row of names of "prominent arts figures" who have protested, but they are scarcely quoted in the article. 

AFP wrote on May 29: 

> Police said Thursday they had visited the prestigious National Gallery of Australia in Canberra as part of a search for the works of an art photographer accused of producing child pornography. Police in cities across Australia have been scouring galleries for photographer Bill Henson's work [...]. < 

In The Age, June 1, Graham Dawson wrote: 

> As a psychologist who worked for over three years in the rehabilitation of child sex offenders, I found they always believe there is something special about their situation that legitimises their actions. The point is, we can't accept one adult's offending behaviour because they're famous. That introduces a concept of gradations within a sexually offensive act. These gradations are what offenders rely on to excuse, and therefore continue, their behaviour. Any attempts by so called experts to legitimise Henson's work will make the rehabilitation of sexual offenders all the more difficult. [... ]

Art appreciation may be subjective but the wellbeing and protection of children is not. We have an objective moral obligation, a duty of care, as a civilised society, to ensure children are protected from exploitation and abuse. Children should not be dragged into the adult world prematurely. But our libertarians and "art lovers" are more concerned about feeding the desires and whims of adults than they are about the interests of the child. That is the real issue here, not some argument about what is art, and/or demands for "freedom of expression". 

News.com.au writes on June 2: Artist to exhibit photos of nude 11-year-old boys as protest; Michelle Draper: A Melbourne artist will exhibit a series of nude  photographs of 11-year-old children to protest against the recent censorship of the 
work of photographer Bill Henson. Thirty to 40 images of two boys, now aged 17, will be projected onto a screen during the exhibition, provocatively titled: "I am not a photographer nor a pedophile but an artist". [...] 

> She said her intent through her photographs was to show vulnerability and fragility, not just of young people, but of everyone. "It's like the vulnerable side of everybody, the fragility of us all, we all grow. And I think it's beautiful," she said. 
Larielle said her models and their parents had given permission for the images to be used in the exhibition. <

'Thus', we read the next day in The Age: "Police say they will look into an exhibition of nude photographs of two young boys to be shown at a bar in Melbourne tonight to verify there are no issues with the works."

The decision

Abc.net.au quotes a minister on June 7: 

> Federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett says a decision not to proceed with 
charges against photographer Bill Henson is the right one. [...] Charges against Henson and the gallery were dropped yesterday, after the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions told police there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction. Mr Garrett says the courtroom is not the right place to debate the merits of art. [...] "We shouldn't see the police knocking on the doors of art galleries to try to resolve matters which are really better resolved by the community having mature debate."

The debate goes on 

The Australian on the same day:

> Children's rights activist Hetty Johnston declared it was "a great day for pedophiles, a sad day for Australia". 

> NSW Law Society president Hugh Macken said the Henson photographs did 
not offend the Crimes Act because they did not show children in a sexual 
context. [...] "Nudity is not obscenity."

> Ms Johnston told The Weekend Australian last night she was one of the three people who issued a complaint to police about Henson's photographs, and she intended to continue her fight against state and federal laws that allowed images of naked underage girls to be taken and circulated as art. <

The Australian News continues on June 12: 

> Child activists yesterday threw their support behind a letter published in The Australian that said the bigger issue was not the art-child pornography debate, but the rights of children. "Basically, I was shocked that people were not seeing the real issue," said child psychologist and writer Steve Biddulph, one of the 30 signatories to the letter. "It wasn't about pornography, or even about pedophilia - it's about 
children's rights." <

The Age continues on June 13: 

> Henson foe says artists do nothing to protect children; Annabel Stafford: Child  protection campaigner Hetty Johnston has called on the arts community to set up a board to decide what constitutes an artist and therefore who can take photos of naked children. [...] "The arts industry does nothing that I can see in terms of meeting its obligation and responsibility (to protect children)," she said. "There have to be checks and balances." [...] Ms Johnston also said she had asked the NSW Attorney-General to look at tightening child pornography laws. <

At least, critical thinkers have their say

The famous Germaine Greer wrote in the Blog of the Guardian (UK) on June 16: 

> Would Australia's PM ban Botticelli? - Australia's prime minister Kevin Rudd has hit out at photographer Bill Henson's pictures of naked adolescents. Would he ban Botticelli?

When New South Wales police removed half the work from photographer Bill Henson's show at a Sydney gallery last month, they were responding to a complaint by a child protection campaigner, who had seen an invitation to the opening featuring a nude 13-year-old girl. The gallery presumably chose this image as the most likely to boost attendance. Their little bit of sexploitation misfired: nobody came to the opening, because it was cancelled. The gallery had to make do with a heated media debate instead.

Some said that mere policemen couldn't be expected to tell the difference between art and pornography, 
others that the suppression of the pictures was censorship and not to be borne by a free society; 
some felt the young models had been exploited and their privacy breached. 

Two weeks later, the NSW department of public prosecutions informed the police that there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction. But the offending picture is now known to millions; Henson and the gallery must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Seizing the moment, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that he found the pictures "absolutely revolting". What revolted him was the image of a well-fed 13-year-old, back-lit, her face shaded, eyes downcast, her hands modestly keeping her shadowed parts private. 

Rudd would not recoil in horror from Botticelli's Birth of Venus, one hopes, but that, too, is the image of an adolescent. For some months, travellers on the London 
underground have been unable to escape the image of a naked pre-teen, fully lit and meticulously detailed down to her faint cloud of pubic fuzz. But no child protection campaigners have picketed the Royal Academy; the gallery selected the image likely to get the most punters into its Cranach show, and got away with it.

Cranach and his mate Martin Luther might have been unhappy with the unprincipled use made of a tiny exquisite image meant to be enjoyed by the refined gentleman in private, but they would have made no objection to this model's evident youth.

Anxiety about children's bodies and what adults might do with them seems 
to have surfaced in the 1970s. In 1978, with the passing of the Protection of Children Act, it became a crime to take pornographic pictures of children or to permit their being taken. 

In 1995, staff at Boots reported that film left for development by the newsreader Julia Somerville and her partner Jeremy Dixon contained pornographic images of 
a child. The couple had photographed their seven-year-old daughter in the bath making patterns on her body with foam. Both were arrested; no charges were brought.

The photographing of pubescent bodies is even riskier.
In the 1970s, Will McBride's sex education book Zeig Mal!, published in English as Show Me!, was the subject of four obscenity trials, all of which failed.
The  photographer Sally Mann was accused of incestuous feelings for her pre-pubescent children, simply because she photographed them without clothes on and published the (ravishing) pictures in her 1992 book, Immediate Family
In 2001, the Saatchi Gallery was threatened with prosecution for showing Tierney Gearon's photographs of her own children, described as a "revolting exhibition of perversion under the guise of art".

Coming of age is the subject matter of the bildungsroman; most of our art is concerned with it one way or another. The chief inspiration for any artist is her childhood and youth, yet even when young people give their own account of their experiences, the result is deemed indecent. 

In Florida last year, teenagers who made videos of their own sexual activity were charged with "producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child".

Meanwhile the models on our catwalks are, or pretend to be, gangling adolescents. Every year, fashion magazines produce a new crop of schoolgirl models. Mothers may look at pictures like Henson's and howl with fear; but the man who rejects them with exaggerated horror is appalled not by the works themselves but by his own response to them. Innocence is not an option. < 

Lots of comments react to her Blog. 

TV show of Insight: the naked eye on June 24 may end this subsection. 

Here, we give only some quotes. The full text of the transcription is on the given links. In the case they sooner or later will disappear from the web, the full text of the transcription is also given in the documentation section of this Newsletter under # 08-068. Text only - Ipce does not allow itself to publish possibly debatable pictures. The other articles quoted are stored under # 08-067. 

Ms Hetty Johnston, director of Bravehearts, was also there. She repeatedly gave her opinion just as we have seen here above in several newspapers: "You can't use a naked child for artistic purposes or for film. You just can't do it." 

The girl, photographed by Bill Nelson, was present in this show and she has spoken. Earlier, newspapers have mentioned that the girl has been sought by police (because Bill Nelson refused to speak to police), that she was found, but that she refused to speak, thus cooperate with police. Also other 'declared victims' were present ... to declare that they absolutely not felt themselves as 'victims'. 

> JENNY BROCKIE (presentator, herafter JB): Marina, they're photos of you, the ones that we've just seen. You're 25 now - how do you feel looking at them now? 
MARINA: I enjoy them just as much as I did when they were first taken. 
J B: Did you feel exploited or do you feel exploited looking at them?
MARINA: No. At no point was I ever stripped naked. I was already naked. I did not wear clothes at that age. Um, so Sandy taking photographs of me, she would have had to actually clothe me to get the photographs of me clothed. 
J B: I know a few kids like that. Do you think you were able to give informed consent about being photographed at that age? How old were you when those photos were taken?
MARINA: About 11 or 12, yeah. When the exhibition was planned, Sandy and my mum both came to me and asked me about it and it was a very open discussion. They both told me all the repercussions... 
J B: 'Repercussions', meaning what? 
MARINA: What the photograph would be used for, who would be looking at 
the photograph, where it would be put on display - all those. 
J B: Was that important to you as a child knowing those things?
MARINA: It was important for them for me to know, I can see that now, and therefore I felt at all times safe and supported and able to give my opinion for what it was at that time in my life. < 

Zoe is another nude photographed teenager, then 16, now 26. 

> J B: Do you think you were able to make an informed decision about having them taken? 
ZOE: At 16? 
J B: Yeah. 
ZOE: Absolutely. Two years off 18 which is old enough to have an informed decision to vote. < 

> J B: Leela? 
LEELA: I think being around that age, like I'm 13 years old, not that I'd be comfortable to like pose nude for an artist, but I think I am of age to be able to like - I know what's right and what's wrong, like I think I know what's right and what's wrong and I think I would be able to like give consent and tell an artist whether I feel comfortable or not and... < 

About another case, presented on a video: 

> CONCETTA PETRILLO, ARTIST: I took some pictures of my boys. Some were 
clothed, some were partly unclothed and some of them were nude. 
REPORTER: Were your children uncomfortable having the photos taken? 
CONCETTA PETRILLO: No, they're just children. 

The photos were to be part of a series based on famous poses used by classical masters, she wanted to merge photography and painting together to give a contemporary spin. Connie usually developed her own images but this time decided to drop her film to a local photo lab. When she collected the photos the police were waiting. [...] 60 images of her children were seized by police - even family shots were called into question. 
The case went to trial two years later. The jury, although divided, found her not guilty. The images were not pornographic but it didn't end there. 
CONCETTA PETRILLO: When I got home there was another summons at my 
doorstep with a lesser charge that was being laid which was possession of pornographic material. [...]
Six months later the case finally came to an end. Connie was free to practise her art but found it hard to get back mind the camera. [...] The photos have since been exhibited here, at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. <

> J B: Allan Leek, you were a police officer for 34 years and you also own an art gallery which puts you in a very interesting position in this debate. I wonder what you think about the debate?
ALLEN LEEK: The artworks I don't find sexually... They're not a sexual item at all. In fact, they're quite charming. [...] I think censorship can be very ugly. That Western Australian story is quite ugly and it's the thin end of the wedge that we're in danger of putting into the art world. 
J B: Did you ever deal with paedophiles when you were a police 
ALLEN LEEK: Yes, I did. 
J B: You did, and did you ever find images like this when you arrested people? 
ALLEN LEEK: Not like that, no, no, not like at that all. [...] Now that was clear right from the start. This action didn't need to be taken in this way. <

> J B: Michael, you're a part-time photographer and you recently got into trouble for taking photographs of your child at a netball game, can you tell us what happened because I think it's quite an interesting story in the context of this debate.
MICHAEL BIANCHINO: Well it was this pleasant Saturday morning and I was 
just there taking shots and an official came up to me and said, "Do you have permission to take pictures of the netball team?" I said, "Yes, my daughter plays in the team and I give myself permission to take pictures of her," and then she said to me, "Well no, do you have permission from the rest of the team?" And I said, "Well yes", I said, "I've discussed with the manager and she discussed it with all the parents that I would do the images "and produce a disk at the end of the season for 
everyone." Then she went "Well no, do you have permission from the other team as well?" I said "Well, they're the other Beecroft team" and I said "I think I might but I'm..." "By the time I go and ask permission the game's going to be over."

J B: So can you understand the thinking behind that in one sense, that perhaps it's about protecting some of those kids. 
MICHAEL BIANCHINO: No, no, no, no definitely not. No this was a direct result of Bill Henson saga. They never informed us at the start of the season about taking images of our children playing netball. < 

> J E: Ok, last word on the discussion, first of all from you, Marina. 
MARINA: I hope that this can continue so that there will be other young ladies out there, young men, who have had a beautiful upbringing with people admiring my body.

J B: Zoe, what about you - what do you think about what you've heard tonight? 
ZOE BAILEY: Yeah, it's a healthy debate and I think as long as the subjects themselves are comfortable with their images being projected into society and as long as everybody is aware there is a process between the artist and the subject. <

Parents banned from snapping kids at sport; The Sunday Telegraph (Australia), 
June 22, 2008 
> Parents are furious after being banned from taking photographs of their children at weekend sporting events. They say the Bill Henson affair has made sports clubs paranoid about allowing them to photograph their children. [...]
Netball, basketball, rugby league, AFL, cricket, soccer and baseball clubs have imposed rules to prevent photos of young players being taken without the consent of all parents and coaches. [...]
"The Bill Henson (saga) brought it to a head. It's made people more aware ... and it brings debate around the topic." 
One father said he was made to feel like a pedophile while photographing his eight-year-old daughter on the netball court. Michael Bianchino lodged a complaint with the Hills District Netball Association after it forbade him to photograph his daughter, Mia, during an under-nine match at Pennant Hills Park on May 31. "The way I was treated, I was made to feel like a pedophile," Mr 
Bianchino said. [...] < 


The evil is in the eye of the beholder. 

2. The case of the girl on the cover of Arts Monthly Australia

Just after the Bill Henson case, the magazine Arts Monthly Australia published a cover photo with a young girl, six year, playing in the sand. 

The articles quoted, and other articles from the newspapers, are stored as document # 08-069 in the Documentation section of this Newsletter. 

The Age, July 6, 2008, Mischelle Grattan: 

> The picture, taken in 2003 by Melbourne photographer Polixeni Papapetrou 
of her daughter Olympia appeared on the cover of this month's Art 
Monthly Australia. The edition also has photos of other naked children. <

> But The Age art critic Robert Nelson, Papapetrou's husband and father of Olympia, now 11, said the family had no regrets and the photograph was a great work of art. [...] He said Olympia often posed for her mother and this photo, which had been exhibited in major galleries in Australia and New York, was one of her favourites. < 

> The NSW Government yesterday announced it would refer Art Monthly Australia to the Classification Board. [...]
Papapetrou's work has been shown in Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, India, Singapore, Spain and across the United States. <

Again, we hear the comment of the Prime Minister and of Braveheats' executive director Hetty Johnson. But also the girl and her father. 

Here is the PM in abc.net.au on July 6, 2008:

> Prime Minister Kevin Rudd earlier told ABC1's Insiders that the cover goes against the interests of protecting children. "How can anyone assume that a little child of six years old, eight, 10, 12, somehow is able to make that decision for themselves," he said. "I mean I don't think I can [assume that] - that's just my view and that's why frankly I can't stand this stuff." <

And here Hetty Johnson in the same issue:

> Bravehearts says the decision by Art Monthly Australia to put a naked six-year-old girl on its cover is evidence the arts community clearly can't be relied on to self-regulate. The organisation's executive director Hetty Johnson says new legislation is required across the country to make it illegal to take photographs of 
children for public exhibition, publication and sale.
"Hopefully what we get from this is collective views around the country, from states and territories, and that's what needs to happen and it needs to happen urgently, to introduce legislation that removes artistic merit from the child pornography laws and introduce this legislation that controls what artists can do in relation to the use of children in art," she said. <

And here is the girl Olympia, in smh.com.au, July 7:

> The young girl whose naked image appears on the cover of an art magazine says she is "really offended" by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's criticisms of the photo. [..]
Olympia, now aged 11, does not believe the photograph of her amounts to abuse and is upset with Mr Rudd, who said on Sunday he "can't stand" the shot. 
"I'm really, really offended by what Kevin Rudd had to say about this picture," Olympia said as she stood outside her Melbourne home alongside her father Robert Nelson, an arts critic at The Age newspaper and a professor at Monash University. 
"I love the photo so much. It is one of my favourites, if not my favourite photo, my mum has ever taken of me, and she has taken so many photos of me. I think that the picture my mum took of me had nothing to do with being abused and I think nudity can be a part of art."

And the father: 

> Professor Nelson said his family had no regrets about the photo's publication, for which it had given permission. The photograph was a great work of art and there was nothing pornographic about it, he said. 
"(It) has nothing to do with pedophilia. The connection between artistic pictures and pedophilia cannot be made and there is no evidence for it. No one's producing any science," he said. "People are losing their cool over this matter."

News.com.au on July 10:

> Robert Nelson, art critic with The Age, has responded angrily to criticism of the nude pictures of his six-year-old daughter Olympia in the magazine's most recent issue, which may be pulled from the shelves after NSW authorities ruled it needed to be classified. 
But, as revealed by Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt in his blog this morning, Mr Nelson has previously written of the specific sexuality of such pictures, arguing that "the sensuality of children is integral to parental fondness".
In the essay - which features on the website of Mr Nelson's wife Polixeni Papapetrou, who took the pictures of Olympia - Mr Nelson says some photographs taken of Olympia by his wife in 2000 when she was just two years old were taken "at the instigation" of their daughter: "'Mummy, come and photo me', she would exhort." The "taboo" of such images is described as "the fear of the child's latent sexuality and its potential for exciting inappropriate and sinful 

The discussion goes on: The Australian, July 9, Janet Albrechtsen in an article headed "Just naked exploitation": 

> The decision by Art Monthly Australia to put the photograph of a nude six-year-old girl on the cover of its July magazine is barefaced abuse of an innocent child. It is overt political exploitation of a naked child by a group of adults done solely for their own political gratification. 
Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson summed it up neatly when he said the editor, Maurice O'Riordan, was sending a "two-fingered salute to the rest of society". 
Nothing artistic about their offensive gesture. It's politics, pure and simple. And that's why it's distasteful and deserves censure. 
O'Riordan's decision to use the photo of Olympia Nelson was the flagrant exploitation of child nudity, not for the sake of art, but to advance his own political agenda. < 

> And let's not be seduced by the dulcet voice of 11-year-old Olympia Nelson, who says she loves the photo her mother took a few years ago. 
Olympia's mother Polixeni Papapetrou wants us to listen to what her daughter has to say. "Children are aware of everything that goes on around them," she says. 

Perhaps her parents think that by treating their child as an adult they are liberated from heavy parental responsibilities. They are not. And Olympia's voice adds little to the debate. This is a child, once again, doing the bidding of adults. First, Art Monthly. And now, her parents. She's 11, her baby voice a reminder that her ability to judge the merits of posing nude for a public photograph is encumbered by her youth, not to mention the influence of her parents. < 

Two ministers speak in smh.com.au, July 10: 

> The federal Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin, joined the chorus condemning the pictures yesterday, saying children were being sexualised in ways that robbed them of a childhood. 
The federal Minister for Arts, Peter Garrett, who has described the publication of the photos as "needlessly provocative", said the Government would call on the Australia Council to devise a set of protocols addressing the use of images of children in art and publications that receive government funding. <


What we hear is: 'Do not listen to the child, the victim. Listen to the victimologists. They know better.'
However: the evil is in the eye of the beholder.

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