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Britain No Longer Permitting Rape Scenes, Sexual Violence in Films Rated for Under 15 Year Olds

The British Board of Film Classification says the current climate led it to make serious changes to rating films with sexual violence.

"The Duchess"

“The Duchess”

Studio Canal

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has announced a major change to the way it assigns ratings to films featuring scenes of rape and other forms of sexual violence. According to The Guardian, films with scenes of sexual violence will no longer be assigned a rating less than 15s, which means only films suitable for moviegoers 15 years and older will contain rape scenes. The BBFC said the change was a result of a shift in public opinion over the last five years.

“The feedback we have had from the public during the current consultation is that they don’t think there is any place for depictions of sexual violence at 12A at all,” said Craig Lapper, the head of compliance at the BBFC. “The key message from the guideline consultation was heightened concern about sexual violence across the board. Although we operate very strict standards around sexual violence there was an appetite on the part of the public for us to be even more cautious than we are at the moment.”

The Guardian notes films like Keira Knightley’s 2008 period drama “The Duchess” would’ve been affected by the new ratings system. The movie, co-written and directed by Saul Dibb, was released with a 12A rating (meaning it’s suitable for viewers 12 years old and older), despite featuring a scene that implies rape where a woman is held down by a man on a bed. Under the new ratings system, “The Duchess” would receive a 15s rating or it would have to be cut to be approved for a 12A.

The BBFC holds a consultation every five years in which it surveys thousands of moviegoers. Lapper said another point of concern this year was the depiction of crude sex references.

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