Over 70% of young people find ways to watch porn despite crackdown: survey

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-13 20:33:01

A social media network employee in Guangzhou scans photos for possible breaches of obscenity regulations on March 6, 2015. Photo: CFP

Amid China's ongoing crackdown on online pornography, a recent trial against the Shenzhen-based video-sharing company QVOD Technology for spreading pornographic material has drawn nationwide attention not just for the debate on so-called technology neutrality, but also due to how much obscene content allegedly existed on one of China's most popular video-sharing websites.

During the trial, prosecutors said that 70 percent of the 29,841 videos stored on QVOD's servers were allegedly found to contain pornographic material.

However, Wang Xin, QVOD's chief executive officer, argued that based on this data, over 100 million QVOD users were estimated to have cached hundreds of millions of files with his software.

"I cannot believe that over 100 million users watched pornography every day," said Wang.

Many people find the figures hard to believe. But a late survey released by the Institute of Sexuality and Gender of the Renmin University of China revealed some interesting findings.

Hard numbers

According to the survey published on Saturday, the number of Chinese adults who watch pornography has been increasing in recent years.

It showed that over 68 percent of the 5,136 respondents from 25 provinces aged between 18 and 29 consumed pornographic material such as films and pictures in the first half of 2015. 

It also revealed that from 2000 to 2015, over 70 percent of respondents said that they had watched pornography and the proportion is estimated to exceed 80 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, the proportions of female respondents who said they had watched pornography increased from 36.5 percent in 2000 to 50.7 percent in 2015.

Pan Suiming, a sexologist who led the research, said that "[does this result] show gender equality? Should those middle-aged women who protested obscenity admit that they are behind the time?"

Pan is famous for his research into China's red-light districts, interviewing more than 1,000 female sex workers from 1998 to 2010. 

The survey also found that people who possess a higher education background watch more pornography and that cohabitants watched more than single respondents.

Where there's a will ...

To protect minors and maintain public morality, China launched a sweeping campaign against the spread of online porn in April 2014. The cyberspace raid, "Cleaning the Web 2014," involved thorough checks on websites, online storage services, video links shared on social networks, instant messaging platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, and unlicensed video streaming websites.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, 422 websites were punished and more than 4,800 accounts on social networking services were closed in June 2014 alone.

People who spread obscene materials can receive up to life imprisonment, according to the Criminal Law.

However, many Japanese adult film stars are still popular in China. Sola Aoi, a popular actress, attracted a crowd when she appeared at the headquarters of an e-commerce company in Beijing on Tuesday. She has more than 16 million followers on her Chinese Weibo account.

Despite the on-going campaign, the Global Times found that Chinese netizens can download pornography or watch online pornography through cloud storage platforms.

"It is more difficult for us to download porn now but Chinese netizens are capable of finding new ways to get what they want," a Hunan-based college student surnamed Liu told the Global Times.

He said he did not feel that the number of people who are watching porn has reduced due to the crackdown.

"As I've downloaded lots of porn films, two thirds of my classmates asked me to share with them," Liu said. Previously, he would simply send them cloud storage links. However, under the sweeping campaign against online porn, they now prefer to copy the films via mobile disk drives.

Pan added that his research into unethical sexual activities including adultery, having multiple sexual partners, visiting prostitutes, and group sex showed no evident correlation with watching porn.

However, Hu Peicheng, director of medical psychology at Peking University Health Science Center, said that sex is like a double-edged sword. It can be good for people's health but excessive exposure may also cause problems among teenagers such as committing crimes or contracting HIV, he said.

"Without a rating system, authorities have no choice but to block all kinds of sexual information online to protect children," said a Guangdong-based Internet insider.

Newspaper headline: Searching for smut

Posted in: Society

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