Not the P-word again

I’ve been using the word ‘porn’ so much recently I wonder what sort of google results this site is getting. Tim Samuels in the Guardian has written about the potential impacts of the porn industry on developing countries.

The village has no electricity, but that doesn’t stop a generator from being wheeled in, turning a mud hut into an impromptu porn cinema – and turning some young men into rapists, with villagers relating chilling stories of assaults taking place straight after the film’s end. In the nearest city, other young men are buying bootlegs copies of the almost always condom-free LA-made porn – copying directly what they see and contracting HIV. The head of the country’s Aids commission says porn risks destroying all the achievements they’ve made. It’s a timebomb, he says.

A timebomb? I’m not denying that pornography can influence young men’s perceptions of women and sex, but doesn’t this article seem a little alarmist… and a bit patronising? Aren’t there selection effects at play here? Samuels is always worried about the norms of prophylactic use being supported:

Since the only sex education some people in places such as Ghana are getting is via porn films, there is a decent argument for the porn industry to produce more films where performers use condoms. In LA, where the majority of the world’s porn is still shot, only one company routinely makes such films. The condom-only policy adopted following an industry HIV outbreak five years ago lasted just months.

According to the HDR, the Ghanaian contraceptive prevalence rate was 25% in 2008. Are we really to believe that porn is going to make or break this? Perhaps it is time for donors to break into the business and produce some more responsible pornographic films. When it comes time for the randomised impact assessment, call me.

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