N - 198
February 11, 1988
ADMINISTRATION OF CODE 9956
This is to provide further clarification of Customs guidelines
with regard to the interpretation of the terms "degradation"
and "dehumanization", as they are applied in the administration
of Code 9956 of Schedule VII or the Customs Tariff. The
following examples from court jurisprudence are provided to assist
Customs officials and the public in their understanding of how
these terms may be defined in the context of applying the provisions
of Code 9956:
Further details or clarification may be obtained from the Manager,
Prohibited Importations Unit, Ottawa, telephone (613) 954-7048.
- (1) Goods which depict or describe degrading or dehumanizing acts
tend predominantly to deindividualize and impersonalize sexual
acts by inciting the reader or viewer to look upon the individuals
involved as objects or means to be used for one's personal gratification.
In particular, the individuals are deprived of unique human characteristics
in that they are portrayed as sexual objects whose only redeeming
features are their genitals. For example, this type of degradation
can be seen in portrayals of individuals as prizes or trophies
for competitions where the winner uses the person as he/she chooses.
- (2) Goods which depict or describe an aggressive, powerful person
who derives pleasure from inflicting pain upon a weaker individual,
degrading the victim by conveying the message that he/she enjoys
abusive anti-social behaviour. An example of the manifestation
of power used to degrade an individual is evident in pictorials,
stories, films, etc., which show individuals who are in positions
of power and/or authority who use abuse, force, coercion and threats
to get their victims to perform sexual favours.
- (3) Another common theme which is used in sexually explicit material
to degrade and dehumanize individuals is to depict them as having
animal-like characteristics. The imagery of bars, cages, collars,
leashes, etc., is often used to reduce the individual to the status
of an animal. In these instances, there is often an element of
restraint (i.e., the person is being caged against his/her will)
and the implication is that the individual is behaving like an
- (4) Court jurisprudence has established that materials which depict
or describe pregnant and/or lactating women in a sexually explicit
context debase motherhood and are degrading to all women.
- (5) Further examples of acts which are considered to be degrading
and dehumanizing are as follows: Group ejaculation on one person,
excessive ejaculation on a person's face, double penetration of
an orifice and the insertion of objects that would or could cause
pain, including the fist or foot, and submissive acts such as
the licking of another person's boot in a sexual context. Depictions
and descriptions such as these have been found by the courts to
be obscene in that they exceed the standards of what contemporary
Canadian society will tolerate.
* The above text has been reproduced as faithfully as humanly
possible from the original document. However, this reproduction
is not, nor intended to be, the official version of the original.