Abhishek Clifford: Porn doesn't stop sexual violence, rather leads to it

Updated: Sep 18, 2019, 07:29 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Numbers speak louder than words at a conference highlighting impact of pornography on Mumbai college students

Abhishek Clifford (left) at the conference at Press Club yesterday. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Abhishek Clifford (left) at the conference at Press Club yesterday. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Making a strong case for banning pornography and raising awareness of the potentially lethal spin-offs of the malaise, an eight-year-old non-profit, Rescue Research and Training Charitable Trust held a conference on Tuesday afternoon at the Press Club at Azad Maidan. The theme of the conference was 'the deadly impact of hardcore pornography on Mumbai's college students'. The Trust representatives released a survey in which numbers spoke louder than words. They culled their findings and based their results on a research of 30 city colleges. The sample size was 20 students from each college, both boys and girls, in the age group of 16 to 22 years. The Trust's Chief Executive Officer, Abhishek Clifford, an Englishman who came to India 23 years ago, was the main speaker of the conference. He got into full-time social work a few years ago.

The survey has revealed that 33 per cent of boys and 24 per cent of girls are sexting, an aspect of which is sending nudes to the opposite gender, to get better or more relationships. Clifford said, "Boys often send such pictures to girls, hoping they would go further in the relationship." He said that while the stress is on the use of condoms and safe sex, students are not told that, "contraception is only 85 per cent successful in a one-year relationship and it's leading to 10 per cent of the girls getting pregnant during their college days." He added, "At least 4,000 college girls get pregnant and have an abortion each month in this city." Clifford further said, "I believe sex education is not the answer. Instead we need to inculcate traditional values. It is not, like some say, unrealistic to expect youth to imbibe the message when they are told about the wisdom of waiting to have intercourse till one is committed. I admit this is very difficult but it can be done." The survey also says that at least 40 per cent of the boys watch violent porn and an average of 40 rapes per week on their mobile phones. At least 63 per cent of boys said that watching violent porn gives them the desire to participate in gang rape and at least 25 per cent of college boys the desire to rape. This, Clifford emphasised, "completely debunks the argument that we need to have porn as an outlet to stop sexual violence. It is, in fact, the opposite and leads to violence."

It's dangerous

Clifford knew he was treading on thin ice when it came to anal and oral sex. While anal sex between two consenting same-sex adults has been decriminalised, he said, "Anal sex is dangerous. Like the way we have disclaimers for smoking in movies, the same needs to be there for anal sex too stating that it's dangerous." Referring to the gay community, he stressed, "When we promote same-gender relationships whose only option is anal sex, are we not forgetting to warn them about the health implications? A law should be passed to criminalise its 'promotion'. Warning about the danger of anal sex is not hate speech but love speech as it is an effort to save lives." Clifford acknowledged that his findings have been met with shock and skepticism but they are accurate. Some of the solutions the Trust said are, "Introducing cyber ethics in college syllabus and developing and using free porn blocking apps among others." Clifford concluded by saying, "IT companies should use some of their Corporate Social Responsibility funds to develop free porn blocking browsers."

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