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Defending the right to watch violent porn – how can that be justice for April Jones?

[By Mari Marcel Thekaekara| New Internationalist]

Rape and sexual violence in India pop up everyday, routinely now, in our newspapers. People have become blasé about ordinary rape. Yes. I did just write ordinary rape.

Even a gang-rape is fairly common news these days. Happens every single day, as does the rape of poor women – mostly domestic workers, Dalits and adivasis – by wealthier, more powerful men.

Those are ordinary rapes in India. They barely warrant a tiny mention on the inner pages. The nun rape went viral though. Possibly more titillating, is the uncharitable view. People all over the country expressed genuine outrage and anger at the news of an inoffensive 71-year-old nun being gang-raped. But ordinary rape produces a mere shrug, in these troubled times. Do you understand what I’m saying?

Whenever I voice the opinion that porn has a lot to do with it – I’m not stupid enough to think that porn is the only reason behind rape which has been with us since long before the invention of the internet, porn sites or cinema – I’m shouted down by young people who scornfully declare I’m talking rubbish.

Did the Catholic priests who abused kids watch porn? Possibly not. Did dominant caste village men who rape Dalit women watch porn? I don’t know. They didn’t 40 years ago for sure. But does this prove something? I should not shoot my mouth off about things I don’t really understand.

This much I do understand though. Porn has a lot to do with sexual violence. Reading about the abduction, abuse and murder of the five-year old April Jones in a recently published book by her parents Coral and Paul, it seems to me that there is a lesson we are determined to avoid.

By his own admission, paedophile killer Mark Bridger viewed explicit images of children being sexually abused hours before he kidnapped April from a street in the quiet Welsh town in which she lived. Other convicted paedophiles admit having done the same – their seized computers revealing this truth to police.

The paedophiles who raped a three-year-old girl in Delhi, after the infamous Nirbhaya rape of 13 December 2013, admitted to watching violent porn on their phones before shoving a bottle up the child’s vagina. It’s about power, frustration and violence. But they got the idea from the porn on their phones. Fifty years ago, men here did not know about violent porn. Children were safer.

So when I read a defence of porn by people who insist that their liberty to watch it must not be curtailed, I feel slightly sick.

Juxtapose this freedom, the freedom to watch violent porn, with the stories of women, men and children violated, tortured, raped, affected in the most indescribably vile manner, and tell me which right is paramount? Whose right is beyond argument the more important?

Coral and Paul Jones suffer as no parents should ever have to suffer. What happened to April should not happen to any child, ever.

In a BBC interview, about their book April, they say they hope ‘it will raise questions if people read the book, why these sort of things are still happening. The government and internet don’t seem to be doing enough to prevent it. I’m hoping it will open people’s eyes and [they] start asking questions why things aren’t being done.’

In the global battle against domestic violence, the battle for sexually abused women, the war against paedophilia and child abuse, the problem of violent porn and its contribution to child abuse and sexual crimes must be tackled.

We have had enough excuses.

To all those who shout about their sexual rights, who say they do not want their sexuality fettered by bans on porn, I would say: Really? Take a close look at an abused child. Look that child in the eye and repeat your demand. Can you?

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