A Tongan youth is currently before the courts having been charged with the production and distribution of pornographic videos on mobile phones.
On a recent trip to Vanuatu Dirk Jena, United Nations Population Fund Pacific sub-regional representative discovered that youth there are also being exposed to porn on their mobile phones.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Dirk Jenna, Pacific representative, United Nations Population Fund Pacific
JENNA: We only also see it when it comes in the press like this case, but by then, asking around a little bit, where more and more, in fact we only have based on anecdotal evidence, but seems to be no just an issue for Tonga, it's many of the islands and as I explained also in the article, it's worldwide sentiment in which we need to address openly and therefore I'm thankful you dedicate some time to it on the radio. For us, when you see young people being brought to court for this type of incident, we just wonder whether that is always the right answer, because there are other decision here. The environment in which youth is growing up is so different from the past that we have to adjust our programs, that's in fact the idea and that's why we want to bring it out, so as to get also more reactions from the population itself on how we can deal with it in the programs, which UN supports, not only in the Pacific, but globally.
COUTTS: But what do you know about this case in Tonga?
JENNA: In Tonga, I don't know. I just what we have seen in the press. We have not yet had missions to Tonga since then, so we didn't really follow up on these cases. But I went to Vanuatu and also there leaders mentioned it as an issue of concern on how to deal with it. So that's why together with some other feedback we got from unpublished research, that it affects not only the consequences, but it can also contribute to the stagnation in decrease in teenage pregnancy, but that it also can contribute to different sexual practices which we call less safe, so that's why we want really to bring it up, and the issue is that it's spread through mobile phones and people describe it as spreading like an epidemic almost and the people compare it with how STI's have spread in the Pacific and how this can contribute and so there is a lot of uneases around the subject, that's why we would like to bring it to the open, yes.
COUTTS: Well, on your recent trip to Vanuatu, it was discussed, the distribution of pornographic videos and material on mobile phones. What was the extent of the concern in Vanuatu?
JENNA: The concern is that affects the school community and the relationship between girls and boys. It's kind of is mobile dating leds to more intercourse and especially at social events and that was the concern was that how can we address that, how should we respond to this new trend of use or abuse of technology. Should we in the schools ban this type of technology. This type of sessions came up to which we really do not have the right answer at the moment, because in fact not too much or no research has been done around it, except may be in the context of sexuality education, that we have to adjust the classic curricula which contains sexuality education to this new development where youth gets more exposed to globally produced, but also locally produced pornography.. So this was the kind of the context in which we discussed it and that's also why we want to bring it up, because as you know we're all about reproductive health and it may affect the perception of the youth of sex in the wrong way and then criminalising it may might not be the right response. We should go may be to the root causes and this is where we would like to launch this kind of also into the public debate.
COUTTS: Now Dirk Jenna, did you get much support in having this included on the schools curriculum and the sexual education programs, the dangers of pornography and mobile dating and all the points you've made so far, did you get support to have it included on the schools curriculum?
JENNA: Well, it's not the point in the way that this comes out now, because the UN system in the Pacific Islands starts next year, a new five year cycle of program support which also contains of course, with UNESCO, UNICEF, the WHO, UNA, UNSBA. We have been meeting recently on how could we support sexuality education at the schools in the Pacific Island states, But when you sit in these discussions, you see these new phenomenons, as you suggest they do not really come up yet in our discussion. We just go by the usual way of dealing with these things, so that's the reason why even now with this opinion editorial in the Fiji Times we got already several reaction saying yes, this is a concern, it is hidden. So the intention is for the next five years is to revise completely may be or look into the sexuality education at schools and adjust it to these new developments and to teach youth how to deal with these new technologies in constructive and positive way, whereas now often, it's shall also have spin offs in how to cope with life. I mean it becomes an income generating activity, so this has kind of negative coping mechanisms which we should avoid them to grow and seek towards the benefits of this new social media it's used, because it's not only this mobile phone, it's also the social media which is changing the inter-relationships in the islands so much and it's coming up so fast and in such a short time that we'll need to be prepared for it.