Porn Bans Around The World

India’s abortive attempt last month at banning pornography was hardly a first of its kind. Aratrika Halder finds out how other countries have fared in trying to tame the porn demon.

Sri Lanka

Our neighbouring island nation is very particular about porn laws. Under the Explicit Literature Ordinance, sale or possession of pornographic material can be classified as illegal. However, since these laws are very old, the punishments are very lenient. The production of local pornography is also strictly illegal. Under the National Child Protection act, any person who is convicted of possession, production and distribution of child pornographic material can be imprisoned for 20 years. The accused may also have to pay severe fines and in some cases, might have their property seized. And to show that they mean business, the Sri Lankan government banned more than 100 local and international porn sites in 2009, and nearly 80 Sri Lankan porn stars were arrested by local authorities. They were all sentenced to fines, community service and prison sentences up to two years.


 

Uganda

The Ugandan government pass the Anti-Pornography Bill in 2009, which banned pornography and also blamed it for sexual crimes against women and children. In the Bill, pornography has been defined as any representation, be it through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or stimulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement. The Chairperson of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Stephen Tashobya, said while presenting the bill that pornography was being prohibited because of the dangers it poses to individuals, families and communities. The Bill also demanded the formation of a Pornography Control Committee that is responsible for the implementation of the law and for taking necessary measures to ensure early detection and prohibition of pornography.

 

United Kingdom

In England and Wales, the laws governing pornographic materials include the Obscene Publications Act 1959, the Obscene Publications Act 1964, and the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981. Videos that depicted hardcore material were illegal until 1999. R18-rated videos are only available in licensed sex shops, but hardcore pornographic magazines are available in shops selling newspapers and magazines. Child pornography is illegal to possess, produce (in terms of electronic copies), or to distribute, and is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment. In England and Wales, the law on this type of material is strictly defined by the Protection of Children Act 1978, Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, further amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to include pseudo-photographs. Sale of pornography is restricted to adults.

But in 2014, the newly elected UK government outraged most of the porn stars and sex workers by dictating the terms and policy on what could be deemed as “safe sex”. The list of ‘no-no’s are pretty strange and random. Urination is banned in a sexual context, and the government seemed to count female ejaculation as urination! Spanking, hitting or whipping, bondage, abusive language during sex, face-sitting and fisting are all banned from the pornographic materials.

The Mirror website had interviewed a UK-based BDSM sex worker, identified by her work name subSinead, who thought that banning female ejaculation was sexist. “The government are now saying it is ok to watch porn but not if the woman enjoys it too much, not if she orgasms more than briefly. What do they want, us to lie back and think of England?!”

 

Pakistan

In 2010, a report by Fox News claimed that Pakistan was one of the countries that topped the list in the world in terms of internet pornographic and “sexy web searches”. And though Google stated that the analytics are not always accurate, this new-found information opened a whole new debate in the media, newspapers and society about the widespread viewership of pornography in Pakistan.

In November 2011, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority announced that it was in the process of banning the 1,000 most frequented pornographic websites in Pakistan. A report in 2012 said that, with many porn websites banned in the country, a few people were turning to purchasing pornographic DVDs in places such as Karachi’s Rainbow Centre, which has long been the largest hub of video piracy and CD distribution in Pakistan.

 

Japan

In the 1970s and ’80s, Japan regulated a strict ban on the showing of pubic hair or adult genitalia in any kind of media. Imported magazines would have the pubic hair scratched out, and even the most explicit videos could not portray it. Close-ups of genitalia still remain prohibited, but pubic hair is now fairly well accepted. Manga and anime remain largely unregulated, although large publishers tend to self-censor or specify that characters are at least 18 years of age. Despite so many rules and regulations, however, Japan still remains the largest producer of pornography in Asia.

In fact, while the Indian government blames pornography for crimes against women, a 1995 survey in Japan found that sex crimes had decreased significantly since pornography was legalised. Even though there had been the wide increase in availability of pornography to children, not only was there a decrease in sex crimes with juveniles as victims but the number of juvenile offenders also decreased significantly.

 

United States

In the US, publication of hardcore material is only illegal at the federal (national) level if it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which is rare. The test has three levels and after passing it they are stamped as viewable like any other movie. And since this test is so easy to pass, production companies like Time Warner offer pornography films through its cable channels and in-room movies in hotels. Bestiality, simulated rape, urination and defecation are deemed obscene, and pornography depicting such acts is not legal or available legally in the country. However such publications are widely available on the Internet. Pornography generates billions of dollars in sales in the United States alone. An estimated 211 new pornographic films are made every week in the United States.

 

Brazil

Pornography between consenting adults is legal in almost every Latin American country, and Brazil is not an exception to this rule. In fact, the government encourages safe sex even for the porn films, as the porn stars have to wear condoms while performing in the adult movies. However, magazine and DVD covers that depict genitalia must not be visible from public view, and pornography can only be sold to people 18 or older.

 

Australia

Possession of pornography material is legal, but it is illegal to sell or rent X-rated pornographic material in all states of Australia except the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Thus, the majority of Australian mail-order operations for adult material operate from the ACT.

Apart from that, Australia also bans women with small breasts from performing in pornographic films, as the government has declared that the small breasts indicate that the actress is underage.

 

China

Internet pornography was declared illegal in the People’s Republic of China, effective since 2002, when state censors issued guidelines requiring that all websites remove any pornographic material. Since 2008, the production of pornographic movies has been banned by state censors, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television’s prohibition on pornography has been complete, and the government has shown no signs of changing course. Directors, producers, and actors who wish to become involved in pornographic movies have also been barred from competing in any film competitions. Any movie studio found in violation may have its license revoked. Possession of pornography is punishable by up to 3 years in prison, a fine of 20,000 yuan, or even execution for large underground distributors. And since laws are so stringent, the only way of viewing pornography comes from the Internet. But in 2010, China shut down 60,000 porn sites and arrested almost 5,000 suspects in the process.

 

In some countries where it is illegal to broadcast or have pornography, five star hotels are exempt of all the clauses as they have to accommodate the “needs” of their foreign clients. Listverse.com writes that hotels like Hilton, Marriot, Hyatt, Sheraton and Holiday Inn, earn almost 70 percent of their overall profits from the room services that come from the hire of porn movies. So the next time if you are visiting any one of the aforementioned hotels in any of the porn-banning countries, and if you possess that kind of confidence, you can actually go up to the reception and ask for your private show of porn films behind the closed doors of your lavish rooms.

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