Nepal has introduced a ban on pornography as part of a government initiative to stem the country’s high rate of sexual assault.
By Oct. 14, internet providers in Nepal had already blocked more than 25,000 pornographic websites. Unlike the country’s attempt to ban X-rated material in 2010, this ban will instill fines and prison sentences for violators.
According to the Associated Press, internet providers who do not comply with pornography ban could be fined up to $4,200 or lose their licenses. Under the ban, pornography cannot be broadcasted or publicized; violators could face one year in prison.
Nepal has 115 internet service providers, all of which have reportedly been contacted about the law.
Dr. John Foubert, an expert on sexual assault prevention at Oklahoma State University, has written recently that pornography can be a catalyst for sexual violence. The violent content now rampant in pornographic material is influencing the formation of young minds, he says.
“Pornography itself is a recipe for rape that has rewritten the sexual script for the sexual behavior of the millennial generation and is currently rewiring the brains of the generation to follow,” he wrote in a 2017 paper published in Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Violence and Exploitation.
“Research of popular pornography films found that in 88% of the scenes…there was verbal or physical aggression, usually toward a woman. The more interesting finding is that 95% of the time when someone is violent with another person in porn, usually a man toward a woman, the recipient is shown as either liking that violence or having no objection.”
Rape in Nepal has increased dramatically in the last decade. The Nepali Times stated that there were 1,131 reported rapes in 2016-2017, a nearly 300 percent increase from the fewer that 400 accounts of reported rape in 2008. 26.4 million people live in the country.
Access to the internet in Nepal has also risen significantly since the early 2000s. There were almost 5 million people in the country with internet access in 2016, up from 523,876 in 2009.
Critics of the law have noted that there is too much pornography online for it to be blocked completely. According to the New York Times, the managing director of Vianet Communications, Binay Bohra, called it an impossible task, noting there are millions of websites to block.
Alex Hawkins, a spokesperson for xHamster, one of the already blocked sites, told the New York Times that the website’s traffic in the country, which had dropped heavily last week, has already rebounded to its normal use.
Nepal failed to implement its porn laws in 2010 because police forces and internet providers eventually relaxed on its enforcement. However, the anti-porn nonprofit Fight the New Drug, said it is valuable for any country to emphasize the connection between porn and sexual violence.
“Whether you support this recent move by the Nepali government or not, their move gives visibility to the ways that porn and violence are linked.”