opinionBy Chinyere Okoye
Lagos — Pornography is a widespread social problem, so prevalent that many people accept it as normal culture while others, reject it in the society. Chinyere Okoye weighs the options
The selling of "pornos" in the sprawling city of Lagos where people brazenly break the law and authorities very often, where religion and morality take second place in my consideration when it comes to doing my business. Sales are not bad at all. People keep coming. Display the pornographic films massively on weekends when policemen are not around. Theoretically, it is illegal to sell or distribute pornographic material in Nigeria but "man must wack", an economics graduate of Lagos State University, Abel Odusola said. Odusola sells pornographic films seven days a week, even on Sundays, he admits.
"Romantic love", "Playboy", "Curve enticement", "Sexual Urge", Interminable Pleasure" these are some of the films that I sell very well and I make more gain from them than others. So why won't I sell more of it to be able to pay my shop rent and for my upkeep. Though some of these movies are pirated versions of films imported outside the shores of Africa.
Most parts of the country and even urban centres, especially in the Christian-dominated areas, the sale that goes on, are virtually unhindered as authorities charged with controlling them say they are helpless to stop pornographic films on the streets.
The term pornography originates from two Greek words, porne, which means harlot, and graphein, which means to write. The combination of the two words was originally meant to describe, in literature, the sexual escapades of women deemed to be whores. As times had passed, this definition of pornography has grown to include all obscene literature and pictures
Again, the invasion of pornographic sites on the Internet is an issue of serious consequences. It has been estimated that over 10 million people a week visit pornographic websites in Nigeria alone. The psychological effects of this and its attendant repercussions cannot be overemphasised. An increase in sex crimes resulting from these activities is already noticeable in some advanced countries of the world.
Most young people would begin to figure out their sexuality with fumbling, awkward, what-goes-where kind of beginner sex. With the Internet, they can and do see all manner of unimaginable sex acts, long before they experience the real thing.
One may ask if erogenous expectations set by the fake sex, that is pornography, how it affects a developing person's attitudes and experience of real sex. Sonya Thompson, a former sexual health educator, started exploring questions few years ago for her master's thesis in human ecology at the University of Alberta.
"As a researcher, I was really frustrated because I spent a year in the library online trying to find something and I felt I was a terrible researcher because I couldn't find anything," she said.
Thompson did find a Swedish study showing a correlation between higher usage of porn and a higher rate of heterosexual anal sex in 18 and 19-year-olds, but there was no information about the effects of pornography on youths.
"We have no idea how we are changing youths' sexuality by surrounding them in this incredibly porn-rich environment," Thompson said.
In her study few years ago, it stated that more than 400 Alberta teenagers published through the University of Alberta found that 90 per cent of boys in secondary school, and 70 per cent of girls the same age, have accessed sexually explicit content online at least once.
The boys are much more likely to report frequent and intentional access, more than one-third of the boys saw porn online too many times to count, it's become a big part of their sexual socialisation, Thompson said.
Which leads her to pose a big question: "If boys have really high rates of use and girls don't at age 13 and 14 as my findings have shown then when 15 and 16 and a boy and a girl get together in a romantic or sexual fashion, how are their expectations going to be different?"
This trend has led to increase in incidence of rape and home breakages. It usually comes with drug addiction and dehumanising of individual, as children are being sexually molested by those looking for sexual gratification. It has created a chain reaction leading to violence and other moral and societal decay. It has led to increase of HIV and AIDS in the society. Women and young girls cannot have a healthy self-image of themselves when their husbands and fathers look at pornography.
If something is not done the "global village" may as well metamorphose to a "global brothel". So far, in Nigeria, the only measures taken against obscene content is the placement of notices in cyber cafes prohibiting the browsing of sex sites?
A recent study by the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health reports that teenager starting to have sex at about the same age their parents and grandparents did (the mean age is 16.5). Report is yet to prove how sex is affected by pornography.
Pornography helps in distorting the minds of the youths, which in turn breeds future homosexuals, rapist, and sex addicts in the environment. Pornography has also turned the mind of some youths into the minds of lower animals (dogs) and it's not right for a country like Nigeria that is still aiming high.
A pornographic film is a huge and growing business because it can be delivered immediately, efficiently and conveniently to computer screens everywhere. You may rally against it. Regardless of the politics on pornography, it's indisputable that we've started a great, big social experiment and are not quite sure how it will end, a secondary school dropout and an Alaba market film seller, Oluwaseun Ibidapo said.
A gynecologist, Dr. Stella Adeniji, in an interaction with THISDAY said "it's very possible that if a child is exposed frequently enough, pornography may affect the whole chemistry of the brain."
Moreover, watching the actors with abnormally large penises may damage a teenager's body image and self-esteem and breasts that are standard fare on pornography sites, she said. She also added that in terms of gender roles, a pornographic film does not offer a progressive outlook.
"Majority of pornographic films are about pleasuring men. And I think that might be one of the reasons why girls have lower rates of use. I think they're more interested in romantic content where girls are treated nicely."
Several young men contacted for this story declined to respond with thoughts about how pornographic films have affected their sexuality. It's fair to say that regardless of gender, figuring out sex and dealing with the emotion that accompanies the physical act has always been a scary part of growing up.
Growing up these days means homework with Goggle, giggling at You Tube and dealing with a plethora of online pornography. The endless XXX-rated videos, a click on the computer will show you more than enough. As a young woman growing up in this new age, pornography is an important lesson that should be conveniently ignored.
Nineteen-year-old sex hawker, comfort Ufot (not real name), whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, said "watching pornography online started as a result of neglect from my single mother. When I became a woman nobody gave me attention, I found comfort in watching pornographic films online." Today it has influenced my sexual behaviour, I can't stay six hours without a man and I have submitted to this bondage," she lamented.
"If I never saw the performance, I likely wouldn't have thought of trying it, though. If I never tried it, I wouldn't have known what I like beyond the typical?" she said.
I blame the government for allowing this kind of development into Nigeria and neglecting the poor. For example go to the internet, you see nude people online. Is this the kind of education we bargained for? Ufot ask.
A university graduate, Ebuka Akunna asks, what is the difference between school girls' and pornographic movie stars'? "Sex", he lodged a rhetoric question.
One big difference is that pornographic movie stars are acting for pay, (to put food on her table) and some people may be missing these crucial facts. "These are actors who are being really theatrical who might actually be experiencing pain, but are acting as if they're experiencing pleasure," he said.
"A teenager watching certain positions will see the actress acting as though it's the height of pleasure and maybe feel pressure to that whirl. Our children need protection from their parents, guidance and even the government. If I am the president of this blessed country, pornography should be banned-the films, books, magazines and Internet or any movie that contains any erotic scene in it," Akunna said.
"I think nine out of 10 guys are disappointed when they are with their girlfriend and they end up having sex because boys watch more porn than girls and think about sex more than girls," a secondary school guidance and counselor, Mrs. Theresa Ibeneme said.
A pastor, Mr. Chimaobi Emezue advised parents to always monitor their children's movements and behaviour, saying that such vital strategy could reduce immorality and other deviant activities affecting the society.
Pornographic items should be destroyed in accordance with section 187 D (2) of the 2001 censorship laws of the state, Emezue said. "It became necessary for the board to regulate the cinemas and viewing centres because these places are operating as hide-outs for dubious activities where arms are stored and political thuggery encouraged," he said.
The board should dispatch liaison officers to regulate and monitor all films at the cinemas or streets where most of these films are sold in order to build the moral standards of the youths, cleanse the society of immoralities and also save the future leaders of tomorrow.
A mother of four, a teacher and a pastor's wife, said that many Christians, devoted men of God are caught in this deadly attraction to pornography, in each of our churches a sizeable percentage of men in our pews on a Sunday morning are in the heat of battle concerning this malady.
Not to mention the untold victims, wives, children, friends who are greatly affected by pornography. Bookstores, sex shops, TV, movies and now the Internet are the primary vehicles for the filth that comes into our culture. Virtually everyone is affected by this evil. Therefore, Christians must become involved in the battle against pornography in order to protect us and fulfill God's call to be "salt and light." Only then will we be able to protect the children and other people we love from this "pornographic culture."
In the midst of this battle, which is a spiritual warfare, must have a battle plan to fight it. Our battle plan must include recognising pornography for what it is, who the victims are and how to bring healing to them and strategies to turn the tide regarding the devastating influence of pornography in our country.
"A year ago, the effects of pornography shattered my world. My three-year-old daughter was raped and violated in every manner you can imagine by a twelve-year-old boy. When they arrested the young man, we were told that they would surely find sexual abuse in his background. And that this is the reason he did it on my daughter.
"After a thorough psychosexual evaluation, they came to one conclusion. There was a single motivating factor in what he did what he did to my baby. He was exposed to pornography at a very vulnerable time in his life.
Pornography is a victimless crime. I'm standing here before you a victim of pornography.
"My little girl is a victim of pornography. My husband is a victim of pornography. Even my four other children are victims. How do you explain to a fourteen-year-old boy that his favourite little sister has been raped and violated in such a heinous manner? We all must put all hands on deck to fight this war," Mrs. Akinyele said