The Nation: An ongoing battle against the porn connection; The Studies Porn Doesn’t Like to Hear About

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from www.nationmultimedia.com – Recent years have seen massive worldwide changes in cultural and social norms that are closely related to the spread of pornography and new forms of prostitution. These need to be studied and understood carefully, particularly in the context of their impact on violence and crime against women and children.

Researchers Rebecca Whisnant and Christine Stark describe the many-sided spread of this global industry:

“Prostitution is a multi-billion dollar global industry that includes adult and child pornography, bartering sex for food and shelter, massage parlours, prostitution rings, stripping, saunas, live sex shows, street prostitution, escort services or outcall, ritual abuse, peep shows, phone sex, international and domestic trafficking, mail-order bride services and prostitution tourism.

The prostitution industry is an enormously powerful and pervasive culture presence.”

In another paper titled “Confronting Pornography: Some Conceptual Basics”, Whisnant writes, “There can be no doubt, at this moment in history, that pornography is a truly massive industry saturating the human community. According to one set of numbers, the US porn industry’s revenue went up from US$7 million in 1972 to $8 billion in 1996… and then to $12 billion in 2000 … a thousandfold increase in a particular industry’s revenue within 25 years is something that any thinking person has to come to grips with. Something is happening in this culture, and no person’s understanding of sexuality or experience of relationships can be unaffected.

“Video is now old hat, of course; more recent developments include not only standard-issue Web porn, but also elaborate and “realistic” porn video games, websites where the consumer can cross-index porn stars with the kinds of sexual acts he wants to see them perform, and porn DVDs that enable the viewer to control the action and inject himself into it. One might expect that the advent of the Web and Internet porn would reduce the market for video porn rentals; instead, the relevant period of time saw rentals multiply nearly tenfold, from 75 million in 1985 to 721 million in 2000.”

According to Forbes magazine, the contemporary legal pornography business is a $56-billion global industry, including a huge presence of some big multinational companies.

The rapid global spread of pornography has been greatly helped by Internet and related modern technologies. A study titled “Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway” by a research team at Carnegie Mellon University Pennsylvania has made some amazing revelations about the nature and extent of cyberporn.

This study, which surveyed nearly a million sexually explicit pictures and other formats over a period of 18 months, says that this trade is now “one of the largest (if not the largest) recreational applications of users of computer networks”. On those Usenet newsgroups where digitised images are stored, 83.5 per cent of the pictures were pornographic.

What is more, most of these images depicted highly perverted forms of sex, including sexual exploitation of children, incest and sex involving animals. Demand for computer sex increased dramatically when perverted forms were advertised. As Time magazine commented, this study is significant not only for what it tells us about what is happening on the computer networks but also what it tells us about ourselves.

In a research paper titled “The Use of New Communication Technologies for Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children”, Donna Hughes has written, “Presently, there is a high demand for pornographic videos through mainstream communication networks such as cable TV.

Only one of eight major cable companies in the US does not offer pornographic movies. Satellite and cable companies say that the more sexually explicit the content, the greater the demand. Adult Video News reports that pornography offerings on TV by satellite or cable are increasing video store sales and rentals, not decreasing them, as might be expected. The explanation is that pornography on TV is advertising pornography and finding new buyers. The mainstreaming of pornography is increasing the exploitation or abuse of women and children used in making pornography.”

This study says that websites are the most popular venue for the distribution of pornography online. Large legal sex-industry businesses have sophisticated websites with subscription fees that bring in millions of dollars per year. Pimps and traffickers use the Web to advertise the availability of women and children for use in making pornography.

This research paper also describes how porn sites operate trap-like devices and gimmicks. The sex industry uses techniques such as “page jacking” to misdirect or trap people on pornographic websites as page after page of pornography opens up. Page jacking is a technique the sex industry uses to misdirect users so they mistakenly come to their websites. Hughes says that websites include false key-words descriptions so that the search index will bring these individuals on to pornographic websites.

Another technique described by Donna Hughes is called “mouse-trapping”. “Mouse-trapping” occurs when the sex industry Web page designers disable browser commands such as “back” or “close” so that viewers cannot leave a pornographic site. Hughes describes how once intended or unintended viewers are on these sites, they are trapped on them because the “back” or “close” buttons/icons are disabled; when these buttons are clicked, another pornographic website opens up, resulting in an endless number of pages opening up on the screen.

In addition, Hughes says, pornographic websites can change the default homepage setting on a Web browser, so that the next time the user opens the browser he/she is taken directly to the pornographic site.

This study quotes experiences of police officers who blame the Internet particularly for the spread of child porn. Raymond Smith of the US Postal Inspection Service, who has handled hundreds of cases of child pornography, found that the rise in Internet use by sexual predators has also increased their use of the US mail service. He said that from the time they first started investigating child pornography in the early 1980s until five years ago, they had almost eliminated the distribution of child pornography.

But since the Internet this has steadily increased. In 1998, 32 per cent of cases of distribution of child porn were related to the Internet. In 1999, 47 per cent were Internet-related, and in 2000 this had risen to 77 per cent. This paper concludes, “The use of new communication and information technologies for the sexual exploitation of women and children is creating a crisis for women’s and children’s status, and dignity all over the world.”

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