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Legalise 'virtual' child porn?

Dutch sexologists propose legalising virtual child porn to help stop paedophiles.

Image: via Shutterstock

Virtual child pornography- pornography created using drawings or computer-generated images- should be legalised, say 2 Dutch sexologists, according to Reuters, for the reason that the virtual porn could be used by paedophiles to help themselves assuage their desires.

Can access to porn assist in preventing real-life abuse?

The call for the legalisation of virtual child pornography comes with the suggestion that a public debate into the matter should be held. Sexologist Erik van Beek insists that the repression of fantasies could lead to paedophiles to commit worse offences, and that access to virtual pornographic material would allow paedophiles to avoid viewing real-life child porn, and assist in preventing the actual abuse of real children.

The proposal has been described by supporters as ‘courageous’ and by critics as ‘shocking’.

Key points raised in a fierce online debate have been that:

  • Access to any pornographic material could increase the likelihood of actual abuse taking place
  • Child porn in any form is simply unacceptable
  • Government would struggle to regulate the material in terms of acceptability
  • There would be the challenge of deciding just how realistic virtual porn would be
  • Some have suggested that paedophiles should just use their imaginations and not have access to any child porn
  • One psychotherapist pointed out that ‘tastes’ amongst paedophiles differ widely, and that the virtual material wouldn’t cover these tastes adequately
Do 'responsible paedophiles' exist?

Commentators have highlighted the difference between what they say are ‘healthy’ paedophiles (or sexually inactive ones) and unhealthy or sexually active paedophiles:

"We're not responsible for our thoughts or our fantasies, we're only responsible for one thing: our actions," suggests one prominent sexologist.

An opposing view is that paedophiles should not have access to any images, but must learn to control their impulses in other ways.

Virtual child pornography and real-life child pornography are both currently banned in the Netherlands, and carry prison sentence of up to 4 years for possession of child porn. It is illegal in SA to be in possession of child pornography.

 In SA, there are far fewer measures than in the Netherlands for coping with the paedophilia problem, and massive challenges within the legal system when it comes to convicting alleged abusers or getting their names listed on the Sexual Offenders Registry.

What do you think of this virtual child porn proposal?
By: Scott Dunlop

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