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Pedophiles: Can virtual porn help?

Should pedophiles be given “virtual” child pornography to help reduce their real life sexual urges? It may sound unsavory, but that’s what two sexologists-- Erik van Beek and Rik van Lunsen—argue in Monday’s Dutch newspaper Trouw.

“It is a safe way, for both pedophiles and children,” van Lunsen is quoted as saying regarding the distribution of virtual porn that doesn’t use real children subject to abuse.

“You offer it to the group that doesn’t want to hurt kids and they don’t hurt anyone with this stimulus. You let them play in their part of the garden of lust, to put it that way,” he says.

“It is a small group convinced they shouldn’t act and have enough control not to,” counters Jules Mulder, a psychotherapist from Utrecht’s de Waag outpatient clinic who, like van Beek and van Lunsen, works with pedophiles.

While virtual pornography may help them, he says, “it is quite difficult to find that group…and pornography is still part of the problem.” In his work he focuses on adult relationships, not necessarily sexual ones, and on emotional loneliness.

Dark secrets

Serving up virtual pornography to those with pedophilic tendencies is no doubt controversial. But to van Beek and van Lunsen, it’s all about giving such men a safe outlet for their desires, what van Beek calls “space for forbidden fantasies without it being hurtful for others.”

“We tell people you are not responsible for your preference…, for the things you think or for your fantasies,” van Lunsen told Trouw. “Take it from me, every person has sexual fantasies that he would never ever like to do. There’s only one thing that you are responsible for we say: your behavior. And it is to up to you make sure that you don’t damage kids.”

Van Beek and van Lunsen say academic studies show that banning child pornography has led to an increase in abuse. They want the virtual porn to have a disclaimer saying no children were hurt in its production, and they’re hoping that virtual pornography would make traditional child pornography less popular.

But Mulder paints a different picture of your average child pornography downloader.

Girls vs. boys

“Most men who download pornography are not pedophiles,” he says. “They’re collectors or engaged in the thrill of illegal downloading. They’re interested in adult women but can’t make a connection with them.”

And Mulder points out that the “majority of pornography downloads is of girls, where in real life, the majority of pedophile acts are with boys.”

With such a diverse group of downloaders, Mulder says virtual porn is not the answer and won’t help diminish the amount of child pornography on the internet. And for most pedophiles, like those not in treatment, he says, “it’s an extra.”

It’s believed that one percent of the world’s male population between the ages of 20-70 has pedophilic tendencies. In the Netherlands, that’s about 50,000 men. With one-quarter of those acting on their impulses, there are an estimated 16,000 pedophiles in the Netherlands.

Virtual child pornography was banned in the Netherlands in 2002.

 

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw