3 June 2013

Uganda: Shocking Sex Videos Openly Sold On Streets

Photo: Sandesh Bhugaloo/RNW
Media houses and tabloids in Uganda to face jail over Anti-Pornography Bill (file photo)

At 8:00pm on Wilson Street, through the rush of people going to the park, a boy of about 18 years, bends to feast his eyes on nude pictures of DVD covers. After a while, he picks out one and starts negotiating the price, pays for it, throws it in his backpack and walks off.

The sale of sex movies, commonly referred to as blue movies, is no longer a secret. The DVDs are openly sold on streets or through hawkers. All a person has to do to establish that the hawker has them is ask: "Olina sawa ya ma lavu? meaning do you have the love moment and from his stash of regular movies, he will remove a pile of sex videos. With a slim budget, I managed to buy more than 10 pornographic movies from different streets for between sh1,000 and sh1,500. One of the vendors advised me to buy movies featuring both black and white women.

More shockingly, these vendors have portable DVD players about the size of an exercise book, which they use to give their prospective buyers a glimpse of what is in the movie. This open sale of sex videos has sparked off worry in the public. In fact, several readers have written to Sunday Vision, asking the Government to do something about the open sale of these movies on the streets.And perhaps their concern comes at a crucial time, following heated debates last month about the anti- pornography Bill and how fast it should be expedited.

There was also the scandal about a P3 pupil who was allegedly caught performing sexual acts. Perhaps, now is the time to think seriously about the Bill or another remedial action to protect the young generation from this vice. Recently, a university student and her boyfriend filmed themselves having steamy sex in one of the university halls.

The sex tapes spread like bush fire throughout the university. And it is not the only video doing the rounds. Another video was of a female student sexually stimulating herself . The involved parties then send the videos to social media like Facebook and twitter. In some cases, male students film their female friends without their knowledge.

Dangers of pornography:

Joseph Musaalo, a counselling psychologist based at Uganda Christian University in Mukono, says watching pornography breeds disrespect in children. He says it also leads to loss of interest in meaningful sexual relationships later in life and is a root cause of deviant sexual behaviour.

He notes that watching pornographic materials is strongly linked to crime. "Some pornographic movies show rape and the children think this is normal. If young people get wrong ideas from pornography at an early age, then it is not surprising that later, anger and frustration at not fulfilling their fantasy leads to violence and murder. "After watching such movies, they get wild and want to forcefully sleep with people of the opposite sex.

Since this ends up in rape, they could kill their victims to cover up the rape," he explains. Musaalo notes that because pornography affects a child's concentration in class, it leads to poor academic performance. "Consuming pornography also destroys the child's values and morals. It also creates fear, guilt and shame among the affected peers. The child does not feel free because he thinks people know the wrong things he or she is doing," Musaalo says.

It is for this reason that parents worry about the possibility of pornographic materials getting into the hands of their children. "I always see vendors hawking pornographic materials, but no one has come out to stop them. Vendors do not care as long as they are making money, but they are destroying the innocence of our children," says Sheila Nanono, a parent.

Another parent complains that the authorities are not putting enough effort to deal with the problem. "It is a pity that much of Kampala street trade is not supervised by the local Police or authorities. Pornography gives both young boys and girls insight into a fantasy world that colours their thinking in everyday matters of love. "They believe the actors are real and that the scenarios are true. This leads to a false expectation on the part of the viewers to what's real.

Legal instruments:

According to Article 17 sub-section E of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, "All member states of the UN shall encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her wellbeing." In Uganda, distributing or publishing of pornographic material is a punishable offence, says state minister for ethics and integrity Simon Lokodo.

"We are aware that pornography is on the rise in the country because of the developments in the information and communication technology sector, but we strongly condemn the distribution and publishing of pornographic movies because it is against the law. We have an intelligence team on ground to identify some of the main distributors and when we get them, they will be punished," he says.

Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba calls upon the public to work with the Police and report these vendors. "Work with us to crack down on these activities because it is a crime to sell such materials," she says. "We are going to work with the Police to arrest people who sell immoral movies on the streets," says Peter Kaujju, the Kampala Capital City Authority spokesperson.

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