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Opinions of Saturday, 11 March 2006

Columnist: Ayiku, Charles Nii

The Ghanaian Youth And Pornography

Pornography, often referred to as porno, as defined by Oxford Advance Learner?s Dictionary, is the describing or showing of naked people or sexual acts in order to cause sexual excitement. Pornography involves books, magazines, videos, and devices and has moved from the periphery of society into the mainstream through the renting of video cassettes, VCD, DVD, sales of so-called "soft-porn" magazines, and the airing of sexually explicit movies on television and the internet.

To some, pornography is nothing more than a few pictures of scantily-clad women and men in seductive poses. But pornography has become much more than just photographs of nude women and men. In Ghana, especially in the cities, one can easily find several kinds of pornographic materials displayed. Most young people purchase, borrow, rent, loan or even steal these materials. Most often, pornographic materials are used, that is, watched or viewed secretly. Today, the most viewed source of pornography is the internet. In a research I conducted two years ago in some internet cafes in Accra, I realized that young people between the ages of 12-17 years were exposed to internet pornography. I was really surprised. All the internet cafes I visited were full of this age group. Most of them told me they use their pocket money to pay for browsing the internet and spend most of their break time and after close of school to visit these internet caf?s. Some even decide not to attend extra classes because they have to go to the cafes to surf the internet. Those would be young people with minds and morals still forming, kids so inexperienced at life that they begin to believe deviate pornographic behavior is normal and acceptable. For many of those young people, pornography changes the way they think and behave, and their expectations of young women and women. I am sure most people are shocked by the fact that the stigma of shame once attached to pornography is disappearing.

In Ghana, pornography can be divided in to several types, these are

? ADULT MAGAZINES. These are primarily directed towards an adult audience an example is the Playboy magazine. These magazines are readily available in most newsstands and shops in the Accra central area. (I don?t want to give directions to particular areas, I know some young people are reading)

? VIDEO CASSETTES. These are rented or sold in most video shops and clubs and have now become a growth industry for pornography. People who would never go to a cinema or theatre to watch a pornographic movie will obtain these video cassettes through their video clubs and watch them in the privacy of their homes. Usually these videos display a high degree of hard core pornography and illegal acts. ? MOTION PICTURES. Rating standards in Ghana are being relaxed and many pornographic movies are being shown and distributed. I quite remember watching a movie with a cousin who is about 16 years, all of a sudden there was a sex scene, so I asked my cousin to ?vanish?, he told me the film is rated 15 and he is 16years so he is more than qualified to watch, I was surprised .So you see!

? Another type of pornography is TELEVISION. As in motion pictures, standards for commercial television have been continuously lowered. But cable television poses an even greater threat. The Regulatory body in Ghana I think does not regulate cable in the same way it does public access stations. Thus, many pornographic movies are shown on cable television. Like video cassettes, cable TV provides the average person with easy access to pornographic material.

? The other type of pornography is CYBERPORN. This type is now the most dangerous and easily accessible. Hard core pictures, movies, online chat, and even live sex acts can be downloaded and viewed by virtually anyone through the Internet. Sexually explicit images can be found on web pages and in news groups and are far too easy for anyone of any age to view. What was only available to a small number of people willing to drive to the bad side of town can now be viewed at any time in the privacy of one's home.

Access to pornography has developed a lot of effect on people especially the young ones, most of these young people are not aware of the kind of effects they are developing. These effects are both psychological and sociological. Let us take a quick look at these effects. ? Pornography corrupts the minds of young people and even the older ones. Emotionally and sexually exciting images set off a physical chain reaction, which burns images that can remain in a man's mind for years. It goes ahead to teach men to dehumanize women by viewing them as sexual objects. Men who repeatedly look at pornography lose their ability to give women the respect they deserve. Instead of enjoying the mind and heart of a woman, they focus on her body--undressing her in their thoughts and picturing what it would be like to have a sexual encounter with her. They can mistake a woman's innocence, friendly smile as a flirtatious come-on of a centerfold model. In many cases, they find it difficult and uncomfortable to imagine them being involved with a woman in any other way than physically.

? Whether a man is married or not, he is in danger of transmitting the infection of pornography into his current or future marriage. Even though people have certain views about pornography, sexually explicit material does not enhance sex between a husband and wife. It creates unrealistic demands about the frequency of sex, specific sexual acts, and the nature of a woman's sexual response, to name just a few. Real life seldom lives up to what is represented in the fake world of pornography. And when a husband demands that reality imitate his fantasy, sex becomes empty for him and degrading to his wife. In the end, both feel resentful and less interested in sex with each other.

? Violent people may watch violent pornography and are more likely to rape. ? Watching pornography makes you think about sex.

? Pornography provides a powerful sexual stimulant or aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. The above effects tell us how dangerous pornography can be. It also reminds us about the several other effects of pornography which may even include the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, death and many others. Therefore how can we deal with the issue of pornography? I have the following suggestions.

? Parents should set a positive example for their children, and take time to discuss stories, programmes, and songs with them. They must teach them what sex is, and must evaluate their exposure to media (magazines, TV shows, etc) with inappropriate sexual themes. They must re-double their efforts to provide for the sound moral formation of children and youth. This includes inculcation of healthy attitudes toward human sexuality based on respect for the dignity of every person as a child of God, on the virtue of chastity and on the practice of self-discipline.

? Furthermore, we should try not to patronize stores that sell pornographic materials.

? We should also consider organizing programmes and activities in order to get community attention focused on the problem.

? Also, our governments should try and take a second look at programmes shown on our television channels and pass laws that would not encourage the broadcasting of pornographic programmes.They should also ban the printing and publication of pornographic materials in Ghana.

But for some internet caf?s, I don?t know what to say to them, they need to do something about their business. I know there are softwares that they can used to block access to pornographic sites. I also suggest they monitor the usage of their computers by young people and as much as possible advice clients not to browse these sites.

Our churches, mosques, and all other religious bodies should make it a point to preach against pornography in all the activities that they organize. Young people themselves can help to stem the tide of pornography by responding positively to the initiatives of their parents and educators and by taking responsibility for their own moral decisions in the choice of entertainment. I know these maybe very difficult to undertake but when serious measures are put in place, it would go a long way in saving our nation Ghana from the plague of Pornography.



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