Paedophiles’ urges to molest can be calmed by watching virtual child pornography, two Dutch sex therapists have claimed.
Rik van Lunsen and Erik van Beek of Amsterdam University Hospital (AMC) called for CGI child pornography to be legalised in the Netherlands – arguing that it could reduce the number of attacks.
Van Beek told news agency AFP: “If you make virtual child pornography under strict government control with some kind of label explaining that no child was abused, you can give paedophiles a way of regulating their sexual urges.”
He added: “I think that repressing your fantasies can lead to frustration and, ultimately, for some types of paedophile, to a greater likelihood of doing something wrong.”
Van Lunsen, the head of the AMC’s sexology department, said: “We’re not responsible for our thoughts or our fantasies, we’re only responsible for one thing: our actions.”
Despite the Dutch being known for their liberal viewpoints, the sexologists’ comments have sparked intense discussions across social media, TV and amongst politicians.
During a televised debate former parliament speaker Gerdi Verbeet said “it’s really not a good idea” and psychotherapist Jules Mulder of the De Waag clinic warned that computer-generated child porn could actually encourage paedophiles to sexually assault someone.
Dr Elena Martellozzo, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University, agreed and told Huffington Post UK that she’s dismayed by the Dutch researchers’ theory.
She said: “I definitely don’t support their view at all. An indecent image of a child is just a picture of a rape in progress. And they look so real, that it’s difficult to tell the difference between real and a computer generated image.
“I’m amazed that intelligent people have thought of this. It’s a violation of a child’s safety.
“Viewing indecent images of children in any form or shape can increase demand.
“So it could have the opposite effect. We lose sight of the act. We’ve learnt though experience that sometimes indecent images can trigger an increase in the desire of wanting more. It’s called the cycle of abuse. It may trigger an even stronger desire to want to have sex with a child. If we were to legalise these images we normalise the whole process.”
Christian Sjoberg, CEO of NetClean, an investigative computer tool used by police forces around the world, added his voice to the ranks of the detractors.
He said: "The scale of the child sexual abuse problem continues to grow. The idea of legalising virtual child porn to reduce the number of crimes being committed would have a negative effect on law enforcement agencies. Police forces already have to examine huge amounts of child sexual abuse content in order to identify, capture and prosecute paedophiles."
Currently, those who produce, own or share child porn in the Netherlands can be hit with a four-year jail term.