Pornography is contributing to Cambodia’s rising problem with rape and should be subject to censorship, according to a new report from rights group Adhoc.
The Report on the Situation of Women and Children’s Rights During the First Semester of 2015, released yesterday, noted that in the first six months of this year, Adhoc registered 131 cases of rape.
Among those attacks, 100 were committed against underage girls, including 37 cases involving girls below the age of 10.
The report also noted an increase in rapes being committed by men against their elderly mother-in-laws, “often older than 80 years old”, as well as fathers raping their daughters, grandfathers raping their granddaughters, and male minors raping younger girls.
“There are clearly deteriorating moral values to be observed in Cambodian society,” the report states.
The report suggests easy access to pornography online and at markets combined with drug and alcohol abuse is a contributing factor in this deterioration, calling for the government to impose strict censorship.
“This absence of restricted access imposed by the government leads persons, who in many cases are under the influence of drugs or are intoxicated, to engage in acts of rape,” the report states.
Speaking after the launch of the report, Adhoc director Thun Saray echoed the report’s call for a return to “Cambodian values”, and called for a crackdown on internet cafes and market vendors who facilitate the viewing of pornography by young people.
“In the ’60s, we understood our culture much better; young people knew how to respect their elders,” he said.
Yet academic studies over recent decades into the connection between porn consumption and sexual violence have produced conflicting results.
While some studies have drawn links, other have proved inconclusive, and some experts insist access to porn reduces the likelihood of sexual violence being committed.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached yesterday for comment on the possibility of pornography being banned.
Speaking about the fact that more than three-quarters of rapes reported to Adhoc involved minors, Saray suggested it was because many women in rural communities migrate in search of work when they hit 18, leaving an imbalance of working age men in communities.
“Young girls are vulnerable, and often they do not receive adequate protection from their close family,” he said.
Among rape cases reported, Adhoc’s head of women and children’s rights section Chhan Sokunthea said just 47 had resulted in convictions.
The rest remain unresolved or closed with compensation payments that allow rapists to escape prison sentences – which the report states are often encouraged by local authorities.