Friday, December 29, 2006

Kids swamped with hard-core porn, says World Vision

By Cat Barton
Phnom Penh Post, Issue 15 / 26, December 29, 2006 - January 11, 2007

Hard-core pornographic movies depicting sexual acts from bestiality to violent rape are watched by an alarming proportion of Cambodian children, a World Vision-funded report claims.

"The issue is pretty horrific in its ramifications," said Dr Graham Fordham, the report's author. "Pornography is acting as a 'motor' driving other social problems."

The May 2006 study of pornography and its impact on attitudes about sexual behavior among youth found "a significant level of exposure of Cambodian children to hard-core pornography" in both rural and urban areas.

"Hard-core pornography is one of the 'motors' pushing men into brothels, [driving] HIV spread and the rape of small children by young men pushed beyond the boundaries of self-control," Fordham said.

Although no study has been able to prove a link between the viewing of hard-core pornography and antisocial behavior, there is a significant amount of research cited in the report that describes the negative effects of pornography, Fordham said.

The report included interviews with Cambodian children in both rural and urban environments. Their thoughts on pornography demonstrated that the impact of hard-core pornography does not just occur at an abstract level, said Touch Sopheap, a research assistant who worked on the report. Many of the children interviewed cited behavioral change in their peers as a result of pornography, she said.

"Many girls told me their male classmates really changed after they watched porn," she said. "Boys would start using nasty words and try to touch the girls at school. One girl told me about the boys in her class acting out scenes from porn films during breaks in lessons which made all the girls in her class really uncomfortable."

According to Sopheap, the title of the report, As if they were watching my body, comes from the comments of one 14-year-old girl living in a rural village in Chulkiri district, Kampong Chhnang, but many of the girls interviewed expressed similar sentiments.

"The girls all said they felt scared and intimidated," she said. "They all kept saying that when they knew boys had watched porn and then they saw them discussing it in school they felt 'they were watching my body' - it makes them feel bad."

Cambodia's young people are particularly vulnerable because the country lacks both informal family-based, and formal school-based, sexual education, said David Wilkinson, an international health consultant with over a decade of experience in the field of sexual health.

"Though sex education is officially part of the school curriculum, it is extremely limited," he said. "Love and relationships are rarely discussed in the home, and as a consequence many young people have few or no informed resources to draw upon to help formulate their sexual knowledge. The limited access to sex education increases vulnerability to the effects of pornography."

But access to hard core pornography is readily and cheaply available. According to the report, pornographic video discs can be procured in all villages surveyed at an average rental price of some 500 riel per night.

"[Pornographic] VCDs are usually hired from local village-level suppliers [so] the cost of watching VCDs is cheaper than books," the report said.

The study reported that girls were more concerned than boys that their parents not find out they had watched pornography, Sopheap said.

"The girls were all very scared to talk about [watching pornography], but it is so widely available - they play it at funerals," she said. "I asked them if when they had watched they wanted to watch again, and some said yes as they were curious, some said no as they found it disgusting, but they were all much more scared to discuss their reactions to it with me because they come from a culture where they never talk about sex."

More readily available technology and the government's campaign to crack down on the public sale and viewing of pornography has changed the way it is watched at the village level, the report found.

"What has emerged now are [private] patterns of viewing that are more likely to ensure that kids, especially girls, are exposed," said Bill Forbes, World Vision peace and justice senior program manager.

So for an increasing number of young people in Cambodia, particularly girls, hard-core pornography may be their first and only form of sexual education, Sopheap said.

"I think porn can be a girl's only exposure to sex before marriage," she said. "Children don't know about sex. It is a mystery. Naturally, they want to know, but finding out from hard-core porn must be very shocking."

Fordham said over 30 percent of boys interviewed in the report described watching hard-core pornography as "normal," and experts are concerned it will also become a guide for daily behavior.

"The universal lesson is that what people see is how they act - it becomes normative," he said. "The lack of balance of other material about sexuality is a real problem and its part of the reason I think that this really hard-core porn is such a major problem in Cambodia."

Research assistant Sopheap highlighted the fact that many of the children interviewed believed that the pornography they were watching was "real."

"The porn they are watching is mostly from overseas - Thailand, Japan, the USA - and they only watch very violent porn," she said. "When I asked them if they thought it was real I was really shocked as they all thought it was - they thought the movies [depicted] normal life in a foreign country."

Forbes said the distinction between reality and fiction is often missed by young children, and exposure to pornography at an early age can blur the difference.

"It can have a real desensitizing effect," he said. "At one level, the sex is real. While most kids know WWF wrestling is fake, with porn, children know they are watching 'real' sex - it is then harder to offer different messages later, to 'resensitize'."

There is evidence that the confusion between reality and pornographic film scripts spills over into real life, the report states, citing media reports of rape in Cambodia and Thailand where the perpetrator has claimed to be "copying" sexual acts previously watched in pornographic films.

"Pornography takes the unthinkable and makes it thinkable," Forbes said. "Children go from not knowing anything at all about sex, even the good of sex - such as love and tenderness - to knowing about [what is shown in pornographic films] such as violent rape and bestiality."

Wilkinson believes that porn is a significant factor in risky sexual behaviors among young people.

"Research on gang rape and sexual violence, coupled with anecdotal evidence, indicates that pornography may be a factor in propagating risky sexual behavior," he said.

Fordham said the fact that many young people in Cambodia are receiving their sexual education and possibly their subsequent conception of "normal" sexual behavior from hard-core pornography is concerning.

"If young men are watching this sort of material, and learning scripts for masculinity and for sexual practice from these, then it really isn't going to construct them as particularly nice, gender-aware young people," he said.

Also, there are certain culturally specific factors that make the pervasiveness of hard-core pornography in Cambodia particularly troubling, Fordham said.

"Cambodia has some very rigid masculine values that porn really feeds into," he said. "For adolescents anywhere the combination of hormones with this material is putting them under a lot of pressure, but there are some contextual factors in Cambodia that make it more of a problem."

The government has long been aware of the problem of pornography and is particularly concerned about its impact on a poorly educated population, said Sy Define, Undersecretary of State in Charge of Information at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, in a November interview.

"The Cambodian people now still have limited knowledge, they still have low [standards of] education," she said. "If pornography is allowed to expand freely in society it will grow and grow [so] we need to crack down now, we need to rid our society of it before it spreads."

Pornography findings

Outcome of research conducted between March and May 2006, and released in a World Vision report titled "As if they were watching my body."

  • There appears to be a significant level of exposure of Cambodian children to hard-core pornography, and children in both urban and remote areas are at risk.
  • Children are exposed to hard-core pornography of the most extreme kind, including bestiality, group sex, violent rape, rape of drugged girls and rape and the subsequent killing of the rape victim.
  • Many interviewed children claimed that the watching of such movies was normal.
  • Pornography is teaching male children violent and abusive sexual scripts, and teaching them that these are normative ways of being male and of relating sexually to women. Boys use pornography as a tool to assert masculine dominance.
  • Pornography is likely to be having a detrimental impact on girls' self-image and behavior. As one girl said about her peers, when they have watched pornography, "they are not shy any more."
  • It is likely that among boys pornography, along with the consumption of alcohol, plays a role in male bonding in gangs.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah? They conducted only a survey and came up with all this information?? Why isnt there any comparisons with children in the US or other countries. This article is just making Cambodia look bad. Theres no evidence, no statistics of rapes or reports of sexual violence or harrassment. The author or person who came up with this study needs more convincing arguments.

However, if this article has some true clarity then I suggest that schools start engaging in Sex Education for girls and boys at the adolescent age. Parents also need to be strict when this sort of thing happens.

Isn't Khmer culture very strict? You could say we are as strict as the teachings of Islam.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, Khmer culture only is only strict on the surface but the buttom is exposed. The Khmers are very good at media sexual entertainment and very adaptible to pop culture. This kind of seed can be grown much faster without much effort where education and others issues are far too slow behind. Yiou can see the evidences depicted in Ankor Wat bas relief

Anonymous said...

I would like to raised a question to the previous comment writer saying that "..... to pop culture. This kind of seed can be grown much faster without much effort where education and others issues are far too slow behind. Yiou can see the evidences depicted in Ankor Wat bas relief." Can you poin out which base relief, which part of gallery wing? I am curious to know, once you mention about the base relief.
To my oppinion, Khmer culture is much respectful in a way that it teaches children to be obedient, to be good with morality and role of being good child, good man/women, good husband/wife, good citizen. If you ever read the Cbab Pros Cbab Srei, you would see how tradition shapes Khmer culture in terms of code of conduct to be a good man.
No stastistic really show in the article, but I think it is more qualitative research, rather than quantitative research, number, I think.

Base relief at Angkor Wat depicted different scent of Khmer social life, battle, hell and heaven, royal life, methology of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and above all about 1700 Apsara (celestial dancers).

In my opinion, some of Western entertainment such as Porn should be highly restricted in the Khmer society, for it affects Khmer value and social security (provoking sexual harrasment, rape, violence, adultary, miss conduct in sexual behaviour-against one of the 5 precepts in Buddhist teachings.)

Thanks
(A Khmer)

Anonymous said...

1700 Apsaras are half naked. There were no half naked Apsaras in India that has similar Hindu religious as Khmer. Also Linkas and Yunies were sexually explicited during Angkor era. We were sexually open by our incestors.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,
Thanks for your reply. Was the simple arts of evolution of Apsara, depicting how was life and dress at that time is considered attraction or porn?
I would recommend you to search on net more for Kamasutra at Khajuraho temple, in central India, to know more about the Indian society in the past, for a special topic that you rais that mentioned regarding the Apsara...

It was true that Linga and Yuni were present in the past, but they were symbol of Shiva and Uma, representing the fertility.

It is unbelievable that the society changes, especially since after the flood of western culture after 1993. I cannnot imagine what will Cambodia in the next decades would be if this flood continues without mornitoring (murders, violence...)

All the best,
Happy New Year

Anonymous said...

The Vietcong military ISP has the capability to block all democratic website but fail to block the PORN WEBSITE!!!!!ahahhahahhah!

Viettel is a Vietcong military Internet Service Provider and it is the one that should answer the fucken question why pornography is flooding Cambodia through their fucken Internet Service Provider!!!!

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Cathey said...

I think if children see a lot of porn, it distorts boys' outlook and knowing of women and sex. Moreover it can make kids more likely to have sex earlier. J

Sex Sells said...

The problem is that sex sells and as it is one of the basic human needs it is here to stay - so it is how to protect children at a young age from the worst porn stuff on the internet!

afrmaa Films said...

i agree with Cathey, moreover, sex is a basic human nature, and what is really dangerous and so successful about the Pornography industry is that it uses sex as using food as a weapon. its a high sophisticated psychological game cable of undermining any culture and religion regardless of how strict it might be.

the only hope thu is education for education is truly a powerful and enlightening weapon

Anonymous said...

children are to be protected, not fed to their aggressors. Exposing a child to porn is like serving the child to those evil people on a plate.

An abused child grows up with a distorted image of right/wrong. The next generations inherits what the past generations allowed/didn't allow.