February 28, 2014

Is pornography harmless or toxic to Nigerians?

MOST video sellers stock it; they know their customers who often are hooked to it, but no one discusses it, although everyone knows it is there growing, catching young converts and destroying them slowly. Religion pulpits avoid it for fear of offending membership, and the world is awash with it.

It is found on the streets, magazines, advertisements, movies, televisions, video games, smart phones, mobile devices, and on-line photo sharing services, in living rooms, hotels, and cyber cafes. It is fast acquiring the prominence of a new culture, a bad and user-destroying culture, yet no one wants to discuss it seriously. Teachers, parents, preachers, good mentors, are reluctant to face it, while millions drown in its compelling ocean without seeking help.

It is pornography. It is sensitive, acknowledged by all, but denied by most while it continues to kill, or shall we accept that it is a harmless habit? Let us see.

Pornography is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography uses a variety of media, as we already know. Commercialised pornography accounts for a nearly $100 billion  worldwide industry for the production of various media and associated products and services. This industry employs thousands of performers along with support and production staff.

It is also followed by dedicated industry publications and trade groups as well as the mainstream press, organisations, government agencies, and political organisations. It has been established, that over 30,000 persons view pornographic websites every second, and internet users send over 1.7 million pornographic mails every minute, nearly two hard-core pornographic videos are released in the USA alone every hour, while over two million pornographic movies are rented there every day.

Sadly, nine out of 10 young men, and three out of 10 young women view pornography there too. There are no records about pornography in Nigeria yet, but going by way we follow the American life style, our figures may be close to those of the USA. I imagine Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Kaduna could be the hot centres of pornography in Nigeria. Some say there are nude night clubs or centres now in Owerri too.

Research concerning the effects of pornography is concerned with multiple outcomes. Such research includes potential influences on rape, domestic violence, sexual dysfunction, difficulties with sexual relationships, and child sexual abuse. Viewers of novel and extreme pornographic images may become tolerant to such images, which may impact sexual response, in some cases leading to erectile dysfunction.

Viewers may also become addicted to pornography. Pornography’s effects on crime and domestic violence have become conclusive, since the United Kingdom government has criminalised possession of what it terms “extreme pornography” following the highly publicised murder of Jane Longhurst. Some studies support the contention that the viewing of pornographic material may increase rates of sexual crimes, and the liberalisation of porn in society may be associated with increased rape and sexual violence rates. Experts have established that pornography is highly addictive, with some even likening it to crack cocaine!

People who indulge in pornography often cover up their habit. Most of the young ones who are hooked to internet pornography are secretive and deceitful, and not surprisingly, many of them suffer from feelings of isolation, shame, anxiety, depression, and anger.

In some cases they even develop suicidal tendencies, and often too embarrassed or too scared to seek help. Even a fleeting accidental brush with pornography can have a negative impact. Testifying before a US Senate Committee, Dr. Judith Reisman, a leading researcher on pornography said: “Pornographic visual images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting , biochemical memory trail, difficult or impossible to delete”. Pornography simply enslaves and wreaks havoc on its victims.

It also damages marriages and families by undermining marital trust, intimacy and love. It also promotes selfishness, emotional aloofness and dissatisfaction with one’s mate, thereby fuelling unhealthy fantasies and cravings which tempt users to force objectionable sex practices on their mates. Pornography promotes emotional and physical infidelity, causing mates to deal treacherously which devastate marriages, leading to separation, and divorce, which in turn harm the children of the marriage.

Pornography can harm children more directly. Studies also show that adolescents in pornography become sexually active at young ages, promiscuous, sexually violent, and emotionally, and psychologically unstable. Pornography poisons loving relationship and ultimately brings heart ache and pain. It is the devil’s food for the perishing soul, and demon possession becomes easy, targeting the joy and peace of an otherwise good person. Pornography has been convincingly linked to hordes of demon possession and activities. Help can best come from spiritual deliverance and good counseling by experts.

Pornography has often been subject to censorship and legal restraints on grounds of obscenity. The introduction of home video and the Internet saw booms in worldwide pornography. Child pornography is illegal in almost all countries, and some countries have restrictions on pornography depicting violence such as rape , rape pornography or pornography depicting sex of a human with an animal, or both, called zoophile.

Zoophilia is a sexual activity between human and non-human animals or a fixation on such practice. Although sex with animals is not outlawed in some countries, in most countries, bestiality is illegal under animal abuse laws or laws dealing with crimes against nature.  Bestiality refers to deriving pleasure though not necessarily sexual pleasure from inflicting cruelty to animals.

The legal position on these in Nigeria is not clear yet, while promoters of pornography continue to erode the future of our adolescents, with their questionable and nefarious trade.

Nigerian school children who received laptops recently from a U.S. aid organisation have been reported to have used them to explore pornographic sites on the Internet. Also efforts to promote learning with laptops in a primary school in Abuja have gone awry, as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials. Our law makers must come now to the rescue of our teeming adolescents through restrictive laws on all forms of pornography.

Mr. CLEMENT UDEGBE, a legal practitioner, wrote from Lagos.