Lawmakers Focus on Eradicating Internet Porn

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

XXX trumps IS as Iraqi lawmakers focus on eradicating Internet porn

Abdul-Hadi al-Hakim, an Iraqi parliament member with the Citizen Coalition, announced July 28 that more than 150 parliament members’ signatures had been collected to pass a bill calling on the authorities to block pornographic sites on the Internet.

Hakim said that most of the National Iraqi Alliance parliamentarians have signed the draft law, while most representatives of the Sunni National Forces Union and the Kurdistan Alliance refrained from signing.

Hakim justified the bill by stating, “Most problems youths face today are caused by surfing porn sites.” He added that pornographic sites have led to a 200% increase in divorce rates and a 50% decrease in marriage and contributed to the rise of sexual crimes, including rape and sexual harassment.

However, Hakim’s statement is based on mere speculation and not on scientific studies. In the same statement, he also invoked numerous other social problems to justify the bill, including early marriage, high unemployment and poverty rates and violence against women. It is worth mentioning that in 2014, Iraq came in last on a list of statistics issued by Pornhub, the largest pornography website on the Internet, which ranked the average amount of time spent on the site by visitors according to country.

Blocking pornographic sites is ineffective, as circumvention techniques are widely available to the public. For instance, the same Pornhub statistics showed that visitors from Iran and Saudi Arabia spend more time on the site than Iraqis, even though these states’ religious regimes ban pornographic websites. Visitors in Iran registered an average of 7 minutes and 46 seconds per visit, while those in Saudi Arabia registered 8 minutes 23 seconds.

The announcement of the bill stirred controversy in Iraq. Some Iraqis welcomed the proposal and created a Facebook page to support the bill, while others believe it is an attempt to impose religious laws on the country and a preliminary step to gradually bring religious rule to Iraq, especially considering the bill was submitted at the initiative of Islamist members of parliament and justified from religious perspectives.

According to civil activists, this bill is not a priority in the midst of the current deteriorating security and political situation in Iraq. TV presenter Ali Wajih posted on Facebook on July 28, “Did our problems in Iraq end, and the only remaining one is porn sites? Isn’t our tragic situation in Iraq much worse than pornographic movies?”

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