Fiji parliamentarian links porn to violence against women

The Pacific islands are fighting porn’s toxic influence.

With sexual violence against women on the rise in the Pacific islands nation of Fiji, a community organisation led by a member of Parliament has been formed to fight back.

Fiji Free from Porn was launched last month and the Opposition Whip, Lynda Tabuya of the The Social Democratic Liberal Party, rose in Parliament last week to help politicians and the public join the dots.

In a courageous speech (scroll to 43 minutes), she said that of the top 50 most visited websites by Fijians, 10 were porn sites while Google Trends showed Fiji was in the top 10 countries per capita for searches of the word “porn”.

“Porn like cigarettes were both regarded as harmless pastimes but just like the scientific studies linking cigarettes to cancer and other medical diseases so too is more research uncovering the shocking effects of porn on our society.”

No one should be surprised that a rise in porn consumption correlated with a rise in violence against women.

Tabuya said studies showed the average age of exposure to porn online was 11 and falling.

“Children exposed to pornography tend to engage in sexual acts at younger ages resulting in increased teenage pregnancy and many other emotional consequences.

“The truth is, Mr Speaker, this proliferation of porn is linked to increased cases of rape and sexual abuse and most importantly the suicides related to the release of revenge porn.”

Tabuya quoted shocking figures from the Fiji court system.

“In the 94 cases of rape (heard) by the High Court in 2018, all accused were male and the youngest accused was 11 years old and the oldest at 85 years of age. All the victims and survivors of the 94 cases were female with the youngest being a six-month-old baby and the oldest survivor or victim a 71-year-old woman. The average age of the accused was 39 years of age and the average age of the victim survivors was 14 years old.”

In January this year Fiji’s Department of Public Prosecutions reported that 18 people, including two juveniles, had been charged with 46 separate incidents of rape or sexual assault.

Tabuya’s party is calling for a UK style internet block to protect children online and for government and community led awareness campaigns.

“The availability and proliferation of porn and drugs is just one of the many contributing factors to the rise of sexual violence in this country.

“It will need the concerted effort of all the government, non-government and community leaders and parents.”

Sadly the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, on behalf of the Fiji's military coup leader Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, poured cold water on the idea of a porn block.

Speaking from the porn trade’s script, she said it would be too hard to block sites like Porn Hub because tech savvy users could find work-arounds.

While this is true, governments should do all they can to protect women and girls and sending a message to the porn trade by blocking legal material would be a good start.

With violence against women on the rise in Australia and many domestic violence shelters anecdotally noticing a link between porn and violence, our nation is waiting for parliamentarians with the courage of Lynda Tabuya to stand up.

With porn one of the most pernicious exports from the West, it might be our friends in the developing world who help lead us out of the toxic mess we have created through sexual libertarianism.

A transcript of Lynda's speech is available here.

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