The word “youth” is not merely a word. It is an inspiration and impulsion. It is a strength and freedom. Our national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam did not agree to limit it in an age bracket. Poet Sukanta, however, marked it as the age of 18. If we look back into history we can see that the young people played a seminal role in the language movement of 1952, education movement of 1962 and Independence movement of 1971. Bangladesh is endowed with a vast pool of young people that consists 49 percent of its total population. The UNDP, in its human development report, has rightly termed it a county of “young people” and stressed the need for tapping the potential of the youth community for the advancements of the county.
According to development specialists and economists, China, Japan and South Korea acquired phenomenal economic success by properly harnessing the youth power.
The economic barometer of Bangladesh also relies on how effectively it utilizes its young populace. Our government is striving for turning this group of population into human resource. Thus, it has picked up ICT as a tool for achieving the target. But the harsh truth is that some ominous forces including militancy, narcotics and pornography have taken a firm stand between the goal and development. Once narcotics were the main stumbling block, now digital or cyber pornography has taken its place.
Generally, digital pornography refers to depiction of sexual contents on the digital media such as the web or mobile phone. Offenders often violet or molest a girl, and secretly capture the incident with CC camera, webcam or mobile phone, and disseminate the video over internet. As a result, the victims are not aware that they are being captured through video recording. Usually, they know about the occurrence after the video of it surfaces on the digital communication media. Failed love overture, familial enmity, and decayed moral value are the prime causes for the proliferation of digital or cyber pornography, which leads to the humiliation and physiological damage and eventually suicide of the victim.
Of late, pornography on the digital media has taken an epidemic turn. People of all age are watching pornography more or less; but the propensity towards it among the teenagers is alarming. This is more so by a finding of research pursued by the Manusher Jonno Foundation, a local NGO working on women and children issue, that about 77 percent school-going children are regularly watching pornography on digital media. And the amateur or indigenous pornography is popular among them instead of commercially produced one. It also reveals that girls below 18 fall victim of pornography. To blackmail girls, establish sexual relation for a long time, and undermine their families are among the reasons for filming videos of private activities of girls, says the research findings.
There is no denying that pornography has been a lucrative business for years. Consequently, some unscrupulous people are running their illegal actions unabated by uploading locally captured porno videos on YouTube, facebook or other social communication media on one hand, and the mushrooming news portals all around the country are continuing pornography business in guise of online news media on the other. The effects of pornography are devastating. The victims as well as young generation have always been at the receiving end of it. Ironically, in most cases, boys like to see porno materials that show their fellow young girls are being sexually harassed or abused.
Instinctively, young boys in their teen are interested to make out with girls. And the porno elements on the internet only instigate their ancient desire. Resultantly, they resort to various deceptions to quench their biological needs. To make the matter worse, school-goers become inattentive to their study and look for something to meet their sexual urges by any means. Thus, they involve in various illicit and fraudulent activates including skipping schools and classes, making fake friendships, forceful sexual activities, and extra marital affairs.
In reality, pornography has turned out to be a social vice, and a major contributory factor to moral turpitude in the youngsters of the country. It destroys their ethical value and deviates the youth from reaching their own personal goal and thus contributing to nation building. Realising the monstrous consequence, the government took initiative to block porno sites. As a part of it, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), recently sent a list of more than 500 local porno sites to all the mobile phone operators, international internet gateway operators, interconnection exchange operators, internet service providers and other telecom service providers to block the domains from their respective networks. Although the industry insiders are skeptic about the success of such kind of move, considering the fact that criminals may alter the domain and web names, the government, however, claimed that it would be satisfactory even if 70 to 80 percent porno sites can be barred this way from using by the people.
Nevertheless, we already have several laws dealing with crimes related to cyber or digital pornography. Of them, the Information and Communication Technology Act-2006 (ICTA), the Pornography Control Act-2012 and the proposed Digital Security Act-2016 are more specific in this regard. There have been fines and punishments of at least two years of imprisonment to a maximum of seven years for producing, distributing and using pornography to humiliate or traumatize anybody. In addition, confiscation of pornography producing equipments and of campaigning instruments is stated in the laws.
On the whole, the BTRC statistics shows the number of internet user in the country is more than 6 crore and 22 lakh. Of them, mobile internet users are about 5 crore 83 lakh, most of which are the young people of the country. Therefore, it would not be wise to bank only on the laws; rather guardians should be more alert and sincere of their children to impregnate ethics and consciousness in them so they can differentiate the right from the wrong. Moreover, children are to be refrained from providing smart phone unnecessarily in their hand. Strict surveillance has to be put on their movements. Also, nongovernmental organisations can come forward to work on the issue. And the government should be more upfront and take a hard line against the menace of pornography online so that our young generation can be free from the clutch of the curse of cyber pornography.
The writer is an Associate Engineer at Thakral Information Systems Pvt. Ltd