Internet porn: Hopeless Zimbabweans takes requests to new heights

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ONCE the darkness of the night sets in, an enterprising vendor selling pirated music and film discs, at a street corner in Harare’s central business district pulls out discs that had been “hidden” in his bag since morning, for sale.

BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
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He had kept the material hidden in his bag, pulling the discs secretively upon request by a customer, waiting for the night so he can openly display them at his stall.

There is always a ready and huge market for the pornographic materials, he tells NewsDay, glancing around to ensure no police details are close by, although he confides that they are also among his customers.

“The stuff sells very fast,” says the vendor, identified as Mark. “They constitute the biggest chunk of our daily sales.”
Although the sale of blue movies on the streets of Harare has always been worrisome to concerned parents, the number of young people purchasing the discs was minimal, as they could not play the material at home under a watchful parent’s eye, according to sociologist Tendekai Phiri.

But with the galloping advancements in technology, adult entertainment from the internet is now widely available and easily accessible to young people — including experimental school pupils — as long as they have mobile phones.

“With the rise of new multi-media technologies, including well-advanced mobile gadgets, it means the boundaries have been broken and anyone has access to pornography wherever they are,” Phiri says.

In Zimbabwe, possession of pornographic material is outlawed under section 13 of the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act. The legislation criminalises the importation, printing, publishing, manufacturing, displaying, selling, offering, keeping for sale any publication, picture or record or playing pornographic material in public.

During a seminar held on October 5 at Gateway Primary School in Harare for parents of Grade 6 and 7 pupils under the theme Guarding Against Pornography, it was established that the social cancer of porn was slowly spreading its tentacles.

A teacher at the school, Gus Hulley, revealed in his presentation that in the absence of parents, teenagers will find alternative sources of information that may be harmful.

“In Zimbabwe, there are over 80 000 requests for pornography everyday between 6pm and 1am. This translates to one request per second, daily,” he said.

It was established recently that most of the smart phones confiscated from students at Townsend High School in Bulawayo and later auctioned to the public contained pornographic materials.

Some people who bought the gadgets expressed shock after realising that the phones contained adult video clips.

Bulawayo-based life coach and author, Jonah Nyoni, describes pornography as “sweet poison” that has far-reaching negative effects.

“The Internet has even perpetuated this perverted industry by making it easily accessible,” he says.

“Times have changed and in the old age it was possible to get married without having seen the nude form of an opposite sex.”
Nyoni said porn gave a distorted view of sex, as it is acted out usually under the influence of drugs.

Many young people using pornography risk having a perverted mindset regarding sex.

“Sex was meant to be between two people for intimacy and as a highest expression for love,” he said.

“Porn creates a tainted mindset that could lead the viewer to indulge a lot because of hyped arousal thereby opening doorway to other problems.”

According to Hulley’s presentation at Gateway, globally, 28 258 people view pornography per second, while in the United States, a new pornographic video is made every 39 minutes.

He said 90% of boys the world over are exposed to pornography before they turn 18, while the average age of first exposure to pornography the world over is 12.

Phiri contends that the pornographic material teenagers access on the Internet via their smart phones establishes images of aggressive, graphic, deviant, and bizarre sex.

“All these things pass off orgies such as group sex and marathon sex as normal and acceptable, so young people begin to experiment in a like manner,” he said.

The Organisation of Anti-Pornography reported that the business generated more than $150 billion worldwide and is becoming more complex and syndicated.

The material is mass produced in developed countries and sold there or shipped into developing countries.

Some of the vendors said those who “burn” the discs know the websites from where to download the material before copying them onto discs.

A parent Miriam Marowa, says it is worrisome that while they are able to monitor what their children watch on television, it is not easy to do so when it comes to mobile phone.

“What this means is your child can access pornography using their phone. You may be thinking your child is asleep or studying in their room while they are busy on the phone accessing all these sites on the internet,” she says.

On the internet, individuals can access sexually explicit material with ease and it is believed that these are some of the sites leading to the proliferation of nude parties involving young people.

In May this year, 28 students from different private colleges in Harare were arrested after organising a “nude party” at a house in Westgate after some of their pictures went viral on WhatsApp. Fifteen of the students were in August convicted of public nuisance.

According to PornHub, South Africans spent 10 minutes 35 seconds per visit on the porn platform, more than the global average of eight minutes, 56 seconds.

A survey of more than 4 400 men in South Africa indicated that 67% of men watch porn.NEWSDAY

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