Here is a transcript of Lynda Tabuya’s speech to the Parliament of Fiji on February 17, 2020.
I rise to address the growing concern of porn addiction especially in our youth in our country.
This is not only having a negative impact on the moral fabric of our beloved country but new scientific studies have linked it to our worsening of crime and drug epidemic, in particular the growing violence against women.
Pornography or porn is defined as the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.
It can be presented in a variety of media such as books, magazines, photos movies videos and video games.
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.
Pornhub, the world’s biggest porn site released statistics that it has 92 million visits per day.
Figures released in a Fiji Times article stated that Fiji has been rated in the top 10 countries in the world per capita in terms of the percentage of searches for the word porn, according to figures compiled by Google Trends.
In the latest ranking on Similarweb.com, which is a website that ranks the top 50 website his in the country, in Fiji of the top 10 websites, three are porn sites.
Now Mr Speaker I would like to shed some light on how this porn epidemic in Fiji, especially among our children, is having a catastrophic effect.
In a 2011 research paper on the effects of porn on children entitled Points on the Harm of Porn on Children (it) states the following:
“The average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 and this age is getting younger and younger all the time. Ninety percent of eight to 16 year-olds who were viewing porn online admitted it was done during homework time. With over 90pc of youth over 12-18 years using the internet the medium has become the leading sex educator in the US today instead of parents and school education programs.”
Now pornography gives children unrealistic ideas about sex, often that violence is appropriate and that women are to be subjugated - affecting their ability to develop healthy relationships.
It becomes difficult to form intimate relationships beyond sexual arousal and pleasure.
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.
The research carried out in the UK by the National society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Children recently conducted a survey of more than 1000 children aged 18-16 and found that at least over half had been exposed to online porn.
Of this group, almost all or 94 per cent had seen it by the age of 14.
Just a few months ago there was an article in the Fiji Sun about a seven year old boy being raped by a 14 year old boy and a 16 year old on two separate occasions.
In the Fiji Times just this week an investigation is underway on the allegations four boys who have gang raped a 15 year old girl in a maritime high school.
Honourable Speaker, 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 the latest DPP rape and sexual offences statistics for January 2020, 18 people were charged with a total of 46 counts of separate incidents. Out of that rape was 28, attempted rape four, indecent assault three, sexual assault 11. Of those 11 people two were juveniles.
Study after study has shown that consumers of violent and non-violent porn are more likely to use verbal coercion, drugs and alcohol to coerce individuals into sex.
Multiple studies have shown that exposure to violent and non-violent porn increases aggressive behaviour.
In 2016 a team of leading researchers compiled all the research they could find on the subject. After examining 22 studies they concluded that the research left little doubt that on average individuals who consume pornography frequently are more likely to hold attitudes conducive to sexual aggression and to engage in actual acts of sexual aggression.
If you are wondering how sitting in a chair consuming porn can actually change what a person thinks and does, the answer goes back to how porn affects the brain.
Our brains have what scientists call mirror neurons – brain cells that fire not only when we do things ourselves, but also when we watch other people do things.
This is why movies can make us cry, angry or scared.
Mirror neurons let us share the emotions of other peoples’ experiences as we watch.
When a person is looking at porn, he or she naturally starts to respond to the emotions to the actors seen on the screen. The consumer becomes aroused.
To make matters worse, when porn shows victims of violence who seem to accept and enjoy being hurt the viewer is fed the message that people like to be treated that way giving porn consumers the sense that it is okay to act that way.
Now Mr Speaker I want to briefly highlight some policy solutions in combatting the porn epidemic.
These policy efforts will complement the great work done by the Fiji Crisis Centre and the Ministry for Women in addressing sexual violence.
Number one, the porn block. It’s an ambitious attempt by UK policy makers to restrict (online) access to porn.
There are countries in the middle east as well as Cuba, China and parts of Africa that have either completely or partially banned pornography.
Raising awareness. Campaign must be launched to warn the public about the dangers of porn addiction.
To this end a group of concerned citizens, mostly parents, on the 28th of January 2020 launched the Fiji Free from Porn campaign which is to raise awareness in Fiji of the harms of porn. It is not an NGO but a movement that is open to any concerned citizen to join on Facebook.
Equipping parents with resources.
At this time I wish to thank Letitia Shelton, my dear friend and champion who is not an outsider. She attended Adi Cakobau School for a year so she is an old girl.
After posting on my Facebook page a short video on the harms of porn there have been 81,000 views and there has been overwhelming support from all over Fiji and so many invites to speak on this issue that the team is already busy.
Honourable speaker I lost about 20 voters because of this cause but it’s worth it.
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. Thankyou Honourable Speaker.