Video show rooms are hives for pornography
It is 10pm in Blantyre’s Chirimba Township and the main market area is completely silent. Residential areas are dead silent as well, as people are in bed, but it is not the same on the eastern part of Chirimba Market.
It is lively, but invisible to visitors—special video shows are underway in small rooms, but with no sound. The mood is totally different, but to one who follows the tradition, the mood is clear: X-rated films are being shown.
A big story is on the posters. If there is a ribbon, a blank page or papers with bold words reading Zimachitika, Action, Zamakolo and Zakwathu, then the most loved movie (pornographic film) is on.
Chill had the privilege to be among the audience of both children and adults at one of the film showrooms at the market on Monday evening where an X-rated film was being shown.
There were children of both sexes aged probably between eight and 15 and adults below 40.
Despite the silence, there were various adult and sexual comments coming in bits from the audience, complementing visuals on the screen. But endangered are the children who are novel to sexual practice as it drives them to what USA psychologist and feminist Mireille Miller calls “sexual test push”, meaning pornographic films build sexual curiosity.
Chirimba is just an example, but the practice is replicated in many parts of the country.
“I have the right to watch what I want. I pay for the service and I come daily. What is your problem?” asked one of the children [11years or less] angrily when asked why he was watching pornography.
Chill also talked indirectly to the show operator. “If you say I should stop showing pornographic films, will you give me money for food. My hall gets full only when I am showing these films. I don’t have DStv to show football matches,” said the showroom operator.
He said he replaces his collection after showing the films twice. He added that he used to control the children from patronising the shows, but stopped after observing that the majority of the patrons are children.
Sadly, Malawi’s laws are a bit loose and contradict themselves on control of access to pornographic films as revealed by associate professor of law at the Univeristy of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Edge Kanyongolo in an interview with Weekend Nation of May 19 2013. Kanyongolo said Section 21 of the Constitution guarantees adults to watch pornography in their privacy and at the same time, other acts empower government to punish production and use of obscene and undesirable materials.
During the same interview, Malawi Censorship Board chief censoring officer Humphrey Mpondaminga said pornography control is a dilemma.
“It would be very irresponsible to allow video showrooms to show pornographic films because people have the right to see what they want,” he said.
However, Section 23 protects children from any materials hazardous to their mental, physical, spiritual or social development.
Mpondaminga on Wednesday said his office has licensed many showrooms and is discussing with the operators on the best way to show the films while protecting the rights of children.
“In 2010 and 2011, we met operators and after sometime, we observed that most had stopped and those that continued had strong mechanisms to control children. We lost track because of funds. We get peanuts to run all our four programmes. Currently, we are focusing on other areas,” he said.
He challenged that being their responsibility, the board can fight pornography successfully within a short time given enough funds and support. While calling for corporate world support, Mpondaminga asked parliamentarians to consider tabling bills about censorship, saying the current laws are weak and do not scare people which also makes his office irrelevant.
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