• Friday, Sep 25, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:20 am

How effective has banning porn been to curb sexual violence?

  • Published at 02:04 pm May 1st, 2020
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Pornography is not the only factor responsible for moral degradation in society, according to experts

The government took an initiative to block pornography websites in Bangladesh over three years ago, mainly aiming to stem social degradation in Bangladesh, a conservative Muslim-majority nation in South Asia. 

Three years later, the ban seems to have little social impact, as sexual crimes have arguably increased in the country.

Since January 2017, the government has restricted at least 22,000 porn sites to create a safe and secure internet space for all and to prevent sexual violence. 

“It [the ban] was a long time demand and the government will continue the process as we have found these sites initiating social decay,” Public Relations Officer of Posts and Telecommunications Division, M Shefyaet Hossain, told this correspondent.

Senior sociologists and criminologists, talking to Dhaka Tribune, said that porn might provoke obscenity but it is not the only factor responsible for the moral decadence in our society. 

They said that in our society, sex remains a social taboo. It is still struggling to change our extreme patriarchal outlook and proper sex education could help change the mindset of people in an efficient and effective manner.

Numbers don’t lie

According to legal rights advocacy group Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), in the first three months of 2020, at least 257 women were raped, 12 were killed, and four committed suicide after rape. 

At least 50 women were also subject to attempted rape across the country.

When we assess the data for the last three years since porn was banned, we see a steady increase in the number of rapes, murders after rapes, suicides after rapes, and incidents of attempted rapes of women of all ages, including minors.

In 2017, at least 818 women were raped, 47 were killed after rape, 104 were victims of attempted rape, and 11 committed suicide after rape.

In 2018, the number of rape incidents across Bangladesh saw a slight decline to 732. In that year, 63 women were killed after rape, 103 fell victim to attempted rape, and seven committed suicide after rape.

Shockingly, in 2019, the number of rape cases doubled from 2018. No less than 1,413 women were raped, 76 were killed after rape, 224 were subjected to attempted rape, and 10 committed suicide after rape.

Experts for a different approach

Contacted, Prof Dr Sadeka Halim, dean of the faculty of social sciences of Dhaka University, said: “As a sociologist, I cannot say that adult sites provoke rape or other sexual offences.”

“It does not mean that the number of rape incidents in the country will rise if adult sites are open. It is not right for the government to correlate access to adult sites with violence against women,” she added.

According to her assessment, inequity and discrimination in society are primarily to blame for social degradation.

“The foundation of one’s psychology develops from his or her family and we have to start teaching people about these issues from the root.

“Children now have lessons on reproductive health in their schools. But we have come to know that teachers ask their students to read those chapters at home so that they don’t have to talk about it in class as they feel uncomfortable,” she pointed out.

Sadeka also said that proper sex education should come from our families, our educational institutions, and our society.

“We have to include sex education in our educational curriculum as a general subject. If we cannot discuss these issues openly, nothing will change, nor will sexual offences decline,” she added.

However, Prof Dr Ziaur Rahman, former chairman of the department of criminology at University of Dhaka, said that pornography does provoke a person to commit a sexual offence.

He said: “We are not providing adequate psychological development to our young generation. We appreciate the government’s move of banning porn sites. But do we have a more comprehensive plan alongside this decision?” 

“Are there any discussions or awareness programs being held regarding this issue? Or do we have any social development programs? This generation is obsessed with things which they are not supposed to do and we will have to help them with positive engagements,” he suggested.  


 Year

 Total rape  Murder after rape Suicide after rape Attempted rape
 2020 (Jan-Mar)

 257 12 4  50
 2019

 1,413 76 10 224
 2018

 732 63 7 103
 2017

 818 47 11  104

Source: Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK)


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