Shine A Light

Shine A Light: Porn, Sex Trafficking Linked

“Evidence shows increases in pornography being widely available and unregulated associates, with increases in demand for sex work, which itself grows demand for sex trafficking,” Dr Crookes said.
08 Oct 2022 17:09
Shine A Light: Porn, Sex Trafficking Linked
Pornography rewires people’s brains, making them act in horrendous ways, according to Letita Shelton.

Kidnappers of young women are sometimes those who are extremely addicted to watching pornography, says Letitia Shelton.

Ms Shelton is the founder of Toowoomba City Women in Australia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to advocating against pornography.

She was also influential in the setting up of the “Fiji Free from Porn Movement”.

The movement is spearheaded by the fathers and mothers who campaign and raise awareness on the harms of porn in Fiji.

 

Lately, social media has been flooded with alleged abduction incidents, and cases of missing girls in Fiji, all of which has raised grave concerns among members of the public.

Ms Shelton said there was a direct link between pornography and sex trafficking.

But a local psychology professor argues that the concept of pornography is not bad when it has the consent of adults, and this means it does not directly link to sex trafficking.

University of the South Pacific Discipline Coordinator for Psychology, Dr Annie Crookes, said basic data showed a clear link in terms of a certain portion of the pornography industry involving women and children who had been trafficked.

 

“Evidence shows increases in pornography being widely available and unregulated associates, with increases in demand for sex work, which itself grows demand for sex trafficking,” Dr Crookes said.

However, Dr Crookes argues that not all pornography is wrong, or that the concept of pornography (when it involves consenting adults) automatically leads to sex trafficking.

“The issue is about regulation and education and most groups would advocate against outright bans of porn as that would only lead to worse outcomes when the whole industry is put into the hands of crime organisations.

 

REWIRED BRAIN

From her work in Australia and Fiji amongst sex workers, Ms Shelton said pornography rewired people’s brains making them act in horrendous ways.

“Pornography is like a drug; you never stay in one level. You may start with watching harmless porn, and the next thing you find yourself watching stuff that are more violent and then it rewires the brain, and it makes addicts want to go and act it out,” Ms Shelton said.

In her work in the United States of America, she found that kidnappers of young women were men who wanted to act out what they watched on porn. Some kidnappers sell these women to make money.

Letita Shelton

Letita Shelton

Dr Crookes said porn could pro- vide an arousal to types of sex that led to a desensitisation and normalisation of sexual violence or the sexualisation of children.

“This becomes a cycle whereby exposure to it becomes exciting, and therefore more is sought out, which funds the demand for porn that more likely involves sex trafficked victims.”

Ms Shelton said it was concern- ing to hear of missing young girls in Fiji.

But there is no Police evidence that these girls are victims of sex trafficking.

 

However, statistics released by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions speak volumes of Fiji’s reality.

For the month of September, 12 of the 43 people charged with sexual offences were juveniles.

And of the 34 victims, 25 were under the age of 18. Only two of the victims were males, the others were females. 15 of the incidents involved those who were related to one another.

Ms Shelton and religious leaders we spoke to are adamant that pornography fuels the number of sexual crimes in Fiji.

 

SEX EDUCATOR

Pornography is the number one sex educator. Young children are exposed to pornography and other explicit online contents when they are given electronic devices.

“Pornography is on music videos, YouTube, 60 per cent of pornographic contents are on TikTok,” Ms Shelton said.

The average age of watching pornography is between the ages of eight and 11. According to Digital Reports 2022, there were 676.2 thousand internet users in Fiji as of January 2022.

Ms Shelton said giving your child a device is as dangerous as giving your child a gun, it will destroy them for years to come.

Pornography makes one view people as sexual objects.

“Statistics show that when young women watch porn, they are more likely to be sexually abused because porn normalizes the behaviour.”

 

A SURVIVOR OF PORNOGRAPHY ADDICT

Wise Naqiolevu was 13 years old when he was exposed to porn. He was in primary school.

He had used a cubicle in his school, which had a magazine beside a hand basin.

His curiosity grew the moment he had opened the pages of the magazine. He had a strange feeling and began to feel aroused. That was the beginning of his addiction that progressed and became intense for years.

Wise Naqiolevu.

Wise Naqiolevu.

For him it was always a choice. A choice of when to watch porn, to masturbate and when to act it out on others, because he knew it was a taboo.

His addiction grew to the extent that masturbation became a routine for him, with or without pornography.

Mr Naqiolevu couldn’t differentiate between the genuineness of friendship, and this affected how he saw people’s approach towards him.

His curiosity grew to a point that whenever he thought about porn, he knew only of lust and not love. At the age of 15, he started acting out what he had watched. He started to explore with many partners. He saw females and males as sex objects, victims of his sexual fantasies.

 

“I treated my sexual partners as victories of my sexual fantasies. So, if I had sex with somebody, I say yes, I’ve seen this, and I’ve applied it, and I see it as a victory,” he said.

“Sex was all driven by fantasies and lies of what the icon and filmmakers had misrepresented me into.”

Mr Naqiolevu quickly lost touch of reality. He felt pure darkness and an unexplainable void. Each time he had sex with someone, they took a part of him.

His addiction led him to do drugs and alcohol. He lost control of himself. But he was thankful for the grace of God that he came to the realisation that he had to free himself from his addiction.

 

His road to recovery wasn’t easy as well. It took years. But constant conversations were his healing process. He also engaged the help of a friend who had also survived the same trauma.

Now at the age of 28, Mr Naqiolevu is comfortable to share his experience and journey to help those who may be facing the same battle.

He said there was a need to strengthen policies for the protection of women and girls in our communities. Engaging in what can sometimes be uncomfortable conversations can also be helpful.

Mr Naqiolevu said to fully overcome the addiction, one must have a deep and intimate relationship with God.

 

ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM

To effectively address this growing problem, it needs parents, church leaders, and government leaders to talk about the bad effects of pornography. Breaking the culture of silence is important.

Ms Shelton believes that there needed to be an age verification on porn websites.

“Unfortunately, pornography makes a lot of money for internet companies, that’s why they don’t want to ban it,” Ms Shelton said.

 

Countries such as Germany have taken steps in banning Pornhub, the world’s number one porn site. The site publishes illegal pornography.

Instagram has also shutdown Pornhub’s Instagram site because of illegal contents the site uploads.

Dr Crookes believes regulation of who and what porn is accessible is important – adults can access porn, but it is regulated to ensure the industry involves consenting adults performing non-violent acts.

“Strong, open, and honest sex edu- cation curriculum in schools where sexual relationships and desire are discussed — what constitutes con- sent, what healthy sexual relation- ships look like, and the difference between hyper sexualisation as ‘entertainment’ as may be seen in social media videos and ‘real’ sex,” she said.

 

National Secretary for the Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, the largest indo-Fijian faith- based organisation in Fiji, Vijendra Prakash, said their 117 schools and 250 temples around the country carry out moral-based education.

“We advise our members and preachers to try to concentrate on social issues that is affecting our population, which includes juveniles.

“In our schools we have at least one period dedicated to religious and cultural activities, and this is when our students are educated on what’s happening in our society and how we can prevent this.”

 

Former president, and now cosultant of the Pacific Council of Churches, Reverend Tevita Nawadra, said they trained people to go out to communities to work with individuals, families, communities through Bible Study.

“We are writing up policies for our schools, and churches to use. For example, I come from the Methodist Church, and the church is working very hard in drafting its policies on child protection. We need to help all churches to be aware of what’s happening in our society.”

The churches have also carried out training and awareness programmes based on modules for their members.

 

Story by: ivamere.nataro@fijisun.com.fj



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