Films that have scenes of rape or other forms of sexual violence can only be watched by viewers who are at least 15 years old in the UK now.
The British film rating system has been updated to prevent such sexually explicit scenes from being viewable to youngsters below a 15 rating.
According to a report published in The Hollywood Reporter, the British Board of Film Classification published new guidelines on Thursday following a public consultation that showed people felt a “heightened sense of anxiety” when it comes to depictions of real-world scenarios and changing attitudes towards sexual threat and violence over the past five years.
The new guidelines say that no film containing depictions of rape or strong sexual violence would be given a rating below a 15, rather than a 12. The BBFC said it also wanted its ratings to appear on all streaming services.
Among those films that would have been impacted by the update are 2008’s Keira Knightley-starring period drama ‘The Duchess’, classified as a 12 at the time despite containing a rape scene.
According to the BBFC website, public consultation – involving more than 10,000 people – showed that young people and parents want to see an increase in classification guidance, particularly around online content, as well as more consistency across all platforms, with 97 per cent of people saying they benefit from age ratings being in place. 91 per cent of people (and 95 per cent of teenagers) want consistent age ratings that they recognise from the cinema and DVD to apply to content accessed through streaming services.
David Austin, Chief Executive Officer at the BBFC, took to their website and said, “Over the last five years the way we consume film and video has changed beyond all recognition. That’s why it’s so important that there is consistency between what people watch on and offline. The research shows that parents and teenagers want us to give them the information and guidance that they need to view what’s right for them.”
The new guidelines will come into force on Feb. 28, 2019.