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     Volume 8 Issue 73 | June 12, 2009 |

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Current Affairs

Caught in the Web

Under the very nose of the law enforcing agencies, the porn industry in Bangladesh is spreading

Ahmede Hussain

A few days ago 14-year-old Rakib (not his real name), student of a renowned school in Uttara, was caught in the school with a bagful of CDs. When the school authority played the discs on computer they found what they had been fearing--the CDs contained pornographic videos made in Bangladesh, some even had self-shot footages of some of the school's female students. "With the advent of digital camera embedded mobile phones, this practice has become common nowadays," says Rupam (not his real name), who keeps a stash of porn in his shop at the Bashundhara Shopping Complex. He says that initially these photos and videos are shot by the girls themselves or their male friends, but later on, Rupam says, "The footages get leaked and come to us."

There are various ways in which a privately shot video clip travels to the glitzy shops of Dhaka and eventually makes its ways into the mufassil towns. Sometimes jealous or dumped boyfriends pass these videos onto their friends or upload it to the file-sharing websites where anyone can download them for free. "There are times phones get lost or the computers where these photos and videos are stored are sent to the mechanics to be repaired," Rupam says. From the repair shops the footages go directly to the hands of the porn dealers. "A good quality footage with a 60-minutes duration costs something around 20,000 taka," says Halim, a blue film dealer who only reveals his first name. He reasons his actions by saying that in a free country everyone has the right to buy, sell and watch whatever he or she wants to. After buying the videos or the Multi-media Text Messages Halim and his team save them on to their computer and make several DVD copies of them.

On a few occasions, some men have used a hidden video camera to capture the act, while their female partners remain completely unaware of the presence of the shooting. In most of the pornographic videos made in Bangladesh the camera is shown static, sometimes it is set in a hotel room, where the camera is placed inside the cupboard, which is set half ajar. Most of the victims of these crimes come from educated middle class families, and are student of different universities.

Orpita (not her real name) was studying at a private university where she met a young man with whom she had an affair. A few months later they met at her lover's house where they made love. Little did she know that the whole act was captured on a video camera and was sold to a porn dealer. She now lives in the US, and she lives with nothing but sheer humiliation. A pioneer in this crime is Suman, a Non-resident Bangladeshi. In the late nineties he came to Dhaka and secretly filmed his rendezvous with three different women and sold the CDs to the shops in Hatirpool's Nahar Plaza. A police case was eventually lodged against Suman and his accomplice, but both the criminals by then had fled the country.

And then there are some foreigners who video themselves having sex with local prostitutes only to upload it on the Internet. There are two sex tapes in circulation on the market in which the local woman is seen talking to the camera and later on getting paid for her service. Local blue film sellers download the tapes from the Internet or get them from the hotel managers and porters who run a network that buys videos from the foreigners.

One of the criminals who made X-rated videos with hidden cameras. Sometimes personal videos get leaked out and end up as MMS messages to be seen by all and sundry.

Almost all foreign video pornographic materials are downloaded from the net. In the absence of a proper cyber law it is difficult, if not impossible, to nab those who download porn from the web to sell. In fact, a stringent enforcement of privacy law is also absent in the country. Last year the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) launched an all out drive against the makers of indecent films, which has witnessed the death of vulgarity in the commercial films made in the country. But a Rab official says that the organisation has not had any plan yet to start a crackdown on the porn-makers. "As of yet we do not have any such plan, but a new drive can be in the offing," he says.

Rakib bought the CDs from the footpath in front of Baku Shah Market in Nilkhet where he went to buy his textbooks. In fact, the market is a hotbed for pornographers as students of the city regularly go there to buy books at a cheaper price. Because of the inaction of the law enforcing agencies many youths like Rakib get caught in the web of the porn. Playing fields are disappearing fast in the city, leaving the children and teenagers entertainment hungry. It is time the government takes concrete measures to eradicate the menace that threatens to destroy our future generation. Increased patrolling by the police, strict enforcement of laws regarding cyber crimes and a mass awareness campaign can make the lives of the teenagers porn free again.

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