Dangers Of Pornography To Society

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The primary duty of every legislator at the federal, state
and local government levels is to make good laws for the furtherance of the
course of democracy. Laws that would impact positively on the lives of their
constituents and move the nation forward. Therefore, such laws have to be
society-centered, people-based and should veritably seek to address society’s
malaise while righting the wrongs of society. In line with this, Rivers State
former Environment Commissioner and member of the House of Representatives, Hon
Kingsley Chinda recently drew the attention of the House to the evil
pornography was doing to the society and expressly sought its control through
an anti pornography bill.

Tittled, ‘A bill for an act to provide for the control of
public exhibition of and exposure of children to pornographic materials in
Nigeria; and for related matters’, the bill comprises of nine sections seeking
to provide for the control of public exhibition, sales, exchange, display or
broadcast of pornographic materials and for the control of exposure of children
to such materials.

It also seeks to prohibit the public exhibitions, display,
broadcast, sale or exchange of pornographic materials whether in electronic or
printed form as well as prohibit the wrongful exposure of children to
pornographic materials. The bill also seeks to make provisions for the trial
and punishment of offenders.

In presenting the bill, Chinda who represents Obio/Akpor
federal constituency and is the House Vice Chairman of the Committee on Customs
and Excise unveiled some of the havoc pornography was unleashing on the psyche
of the nation, pointing out that the act is gradually taking the nation to the
doldrums. The lawmaker then gave some examples to illustrate this.

“A walk across streets in various cities, towns and
villages,’ he began, ‘reveal the level of exposure of Nigerians to pornographic
materials especially in form of printed materials with some packaged as
magazines while others are used as packaging materials for electronic materials
such as VCDs and DVDs.

“In one of the Nigerian mega cities, a story was told about
how children between the ages of five and sixteen went to a shop where
pornographic videos were sold in their numbers to consume such sights to their
fill.  It was said that even as they
viewed, some of the older and bigger ones, especially the girls wriggled their
faces in pretence of disgust, but could not walk away.  The retailer brought out more of the obscene
materials and showed them to the girls.
Touching them playfully and asking them if they enjoyed it and whether
they would like to buy, the girls giggled as they shook away his hands feebly”.

Based on stories and experiences such as this, Chinda
contended on the floor of the House that exposing children and even adults to
pornography in this and other ways has become rampant in many Nigerian cities
and this constitutes danger and at present, the nation seem to be ignoring such
act which is capable of ruining her future.

He asserted that as custodians of the peoples’ mandate, as a
parliament which is alive and responsive to the real needs of the people, as a
legislature with the dire need of transforming the society positively, they
must not fold their arms while such despicable act thrives.

“There are numerous sources of pornographic materials
available in Nigeria, and they range from magazines, to videos and
television.  Even so, in the years
immediately before wide public access to the Internet, a 1986 study of 600
teenagers in the United States, “found that 91 per cent of the males and 82 per
cent of the females admitted having been exposed to X-rated, hard-core
pornography”, he told his honourable colleagues, adding that in Nigeria,
pornographic materials are more rampant at bus stops where human and vehicular
traffic is high, with porn racketeers trading their wares actively.

He identified the numerous sources from which pornographic
materials filter into the Nigerian society as: magazines, television, video
movies, video games, music/radio and fashion as well as the problem of
pedophiles and the effect that internet was having.

For Magazines, he said, this has been the oldest source of
pornography.  Though subscription-based
pornographic magazines have witnessed a decline in circulation or disappeared
completely, their impact on people, especially children has increased as the
materials have entered the web while contending that television is, perhaps,
the most powerful of all the media stimuli that influences individuals and
society and Nigerians, particularly children who regularly watch significant
amounts of television programmes.

“Only recently has the Internet come close to challenging
the dominance of television in terms of hours spent using media, even though
access to internet is lower than that of television, in Nigeria.  The content of most Nigerian television
programmes has become highly sexualised in recent times.  Some foreign channels viewed here in Nigeria,
regularly broadcast ‘hard-core’ pornographic movies.  Other more ‘mainstream’ channels are not
immune to such activities, and additionally offer regularly scheduled
prime-time programmes which feature much sexualised nudity.  This is more in dance movies or music videos
which appear unattractive today unless replete with nude scenes”, he noted.

On Video movies, the easy-going, soft-spoken but erudite
legislator contended that they constitute another veritable source of
pornography in the Nigerian society, stressing emphatically that  across many streets and bus stops in the  cities and town, there are hawkers of
pornographic videos.  “In deed, this
constitute a big and brisk business in Nigeria since many porn merchants have
video duplicating equipment hidden away in their rooms all over major cities in
the country.  In fact, there are many
foreigners currently engaged in the money spinning business of pornographic
videos”, he said.

He continued: “Interestingly, such videos are cheaper to
procure much more than any other source of pornography and most people have
access to television and video machines to aid the consumption of such
materials.  For this reason, this is considered
the most important source of pornographic materials into the Nigerian society.”

Noting that Video games are targetted primarily towards
children, Chinda told the House of Representatives that some games have
significant content that are decidedly inappropriate; that little research has
been done into the actual effects of pornographic video game on children,
though it could be inferred that the interactive nature of the media would make
such pornography more potent than similar visual content on the passive medium
of television.

It is his view that certainly, a study of violent content in
video games led researchers to conclude that exposure to such media had a
significant impact on participants’ views regarding real life violence.  Thus, the active nature of playing video
games, intense engagement, and the tendency to be translated into fantasy play
may not account for negative impact  and
he lamented that such pornographic games are widely available in stores across
the nation.

In enlisting music and radio, he argued that whether it is
lyrics of entertainers or the on stage performances, the music industry is an
important cultural influence on  any
given population as  people spend about
40 hours a week, on the average, listening to their favourite stars and other
programmes on the radio. He said that this does not include time spent watching
music videos, some of which contain the most pornographic content to be found
on television.

On fashion, he opined that
the sexualisation of Western culture is no better evidenced today than
by the choices individuals make in terms of their personal dress and
appearance, noting that nowadays, prostitutes are even better dressed than
young (teenage) girls and indeed, a host of music stars, who appeal to the
youth, have helped promote a sexualisation of apparel, adding “In fact, some
clothing are so explicit, they are even self-labelled”

Quoting numerous police officers who deal with child sex
crimes, Chinda said on the floor of the House that pedophiles frequently use
pornography to break down the inhibitions of their child victims so they can
abuse them, adding that   Pedophiles also
use pornography to teach children exactly what the molesters want while the
introduction of the Internet has only deepened the problem for the most recent
generation.

Noting that modestly Internet-savvy children can find
pornography within seconds, he said this medium not only contains the vilest
and deviant pornography imaginable, it also offers pornography in almost every
one of the ‘traditional’ formats, from still photographs to real-time video,
adding that despite their wishes, Internet users who attempt to avoid
pornography can be inundated with ‘spam’ and ‘pop-ups’, and misled by apparent
websites and links”, he pointed out.

In conclusion, he beckoned on the House to give the bill the
required support needed for the bill to scale through the mandatory 1st  and 2nd Reading and eventually passed into
law.

His words:” In as much as Section 39 of the 1999
Constitution provides for press freedom, Parliament must stand upon the
combined effects and provisions of sections 14(2)(b) and 45(1) of the 1999
Constitution to intervene in this issue to ensure the protection of public
safety, public order and public morality.
Exposure to pornographic materials has both long and short term effects
on the viewers.  This subject matter
should be considered as a National security issue.  It affects public morality, it affects public
health, it encourages crime such as rape and violation of women, it equally
increases the case of teenage pregnancies, abortion and other social
vices.  We must not watch this phenomenon
eat deep and deeper into the very fabrics of our society.  That is the very essence of this all important
draft legislation”.