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Fri, Jun 09, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Sales of porn to children remains a pressing problem

SOCIETY Despite claims by the police that they are doing all they can to tackle the problem, a PFP legislator has called for tougher measures to deal with the accessibility of adult materials to Taiwan's youngsters

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

A People First Party (PFP) lawmaker lashed out at law-enforcement authorities yesterday over what he said was their inability to stem the flood of pornography available to minors in Taiwan.

Legislator Chen Chao-jung (陳朝容) said that erotica was freely available to teenagers and even younger children, and staged a press conference armed with evidence he said backed up his claims.

Chen showed a film taken secretly by his assistant in a Taipei store several days ago -- the hidden camera captured high school and even elementary school students buying erotic comic books and CD-ROMs.

According to Chen, many of the materials contained "very explicit" erotic images, and their sale to the children was certainly illegal.

"As far as I know, police officers are not given credit for cracking down on pornography, therefore they have no incentive to do so," Chen said, "this is why pornography in Taiwan is so widespread."

Chang Ta-wen (張大文), chief of the administration section at the National Police Administration (NPA), said Chen's allegation was untrue, because controlling pornography is part of "routine" police operations.

"Police officers routinely keep an eye out for pornography while on patrol, and also investigate individual complaints reported by the public," Chang said.

In addition to the routine work, the NPA has launched special raids against pornography in the past Chang said, adding that more were planned in the future.

However, Chang noted that that the definition of "pornography" has always been a problem faced by the police when carrying out crackdowns.

Currently, the circulation, broadcast and sale of "obscene" publications and films are prohibited under the Criminal Code, but what constitutes "obscenity" has become a vague standard by which to judge pornography.

The Government Information Office (GIO) has set its own guidelines concerning adult films.

Its guidelines state that adult films sold in the market cannot show exposed sex organs and the "portrayal of graphic sexual intercourse" unless they are "a necessary part of the story."

"With society becoming more and more open and people's perspectives become more liberal, it is becoming increasingly hard to determine what obscenity is," Chang said.

"This is especially true in cases of partial nudity and of sexual content partially obscured by a digital mosaic," Chang said.

Liu Tao-ming (劉道明), a section chief at the GIO's Department of Radio and Television Affairs, argued that it is almost impossible and impractical to rely solely on the police to stamp out pornography.

"It is more practical to block teenagers' and children's access to pornography with proper regulations," Liu said.

At present, there is no law to restrict the sale of pornography to children and teenagers.

Hu Mu-lan (胡木蘭), an inspector from the Ministry of the Interior's bureau of children's affairs, said the bureau has decided to make revisions to the Children's and Teenagers' Welfare Law to achieve this goal.

Hu said after the law is revised, grading and classification would be required for all kinds of publications, and the sale of pornography to minors would be forbidden.

Meanwhile, Hu said another of the bureau's plans is to try to promote sex education universally among children, to give them a more healthy outlook on sexual matters.

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