The Philippine government has recently banned all pornographic websites in order to prevent child pornography. Presupposing a reduction in child sex offense rate, they have decided to eliminate all sexual contents at risk of containing child involvement. Meanwhile, the South Korean government too has been taking the lead in banning pornography along with the strict prohibition of prostitution. However, the question is this; are governments being credited for their good intention? Public concerns rise with the ineffectiveness and balloon effect of the enforcement of said prohibition laws.
As of January 14, 2017, some of the top pornographic websites like Pornhub, Xvideos, and Redtube were completely blocked in the Philippines. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered all Internet service providers (ISP) to block websites that violate the government’s antichild pornography laws—prohibiting any form of child involvement in sexual activities. However, this attempt is coming to be the center of controversy.
South Korea is another nation to ban access to such online adult contents. As the original intention of the implementation was to prevent sex crime, the question arises; how effective has it really been in reality? Sora-net was one of Korea’s biggest pornographic websites which had been quite troublesome for more than a decade. The police were finally able to block it last year, but even so illegal contents are bursting through various means of distribution like more than ever before. With this, it has been realized that banning is no more the answer.
Sex trade in Korea is another example that has proven the failure of criminalization. The official Red-light districts in major cities have been shut down since the implementation of the Special Law on Sex Trade in 2004. However, sex traffickers found alternatives to replace their worksite and trading systems. It led them to create underground channels and habitats that have diverged into online communities to general residence areas. The balloon effect—a social phenomenon in which a solution to one problem causes another to rise on the other side—of the prohibition law is severely fatal.
Some conservative voices may argue that it is a moral duty of a nation to, by all means, prevent any potentiality that would disgrace the society. However, it is now time to react with some flexibility to the tangible results. According to the official report of Korea’s Institute of Criminology in 2014, not even the sex crime rate has decreased. Instead, it has remained quite steady regardless of the adoption of the Special Law on Sex Trade. Banning pornography or prostitution does not mean they can be eliminated, but it does mean they are given chances to slip through by illegal means which can be far more threatening to our society.
Police announces to the public that a more intensive level of control is needed, but that is now no more than a banality. Illegalization simply does not solve social problems to its core; it only veils them. The government’s attempt to protect its people ends up being only superficial. When people are banned from doing something, they are likely to slip under the radar, making it harder for prevention and detection.
The fundamental problem will not be resolved when real predators are camouflaged under a deep web—or an invisible web. It is rather idealistic that a government would keep potential offenders under scrutiny out in sight. It is time for the realization for our society to begin searching for a feasible solution to stamp out the root of crime. The urgent mission is to raise social awareness of heinous crimes through providing concrete grounds of sex education, as well as various social campaigns.