Seventy-four evangelical leaders in Ohio presented a resolution Aug. 18 to the state Board of Health calling for pornography to be deemed a public health crisis.
“Due to its affiliation to human trafficking, we would like the board to consider making this declaration,” said the Reverend El Akuchie of Godsfield House of Prayer in Mansfield, Ohio. “Our hope is this resolution will encourage education, prevention, research and policy changes at the state level to confront pornography’s proliferation on the internet and in society.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), “Ohio has ranked as high as fifth among all states in total reported human trafficking cases, with Toledo being identified as the fourth highest ranking city in the nation for recruiting victims.”
The resolution notes that ODH and local health departments have observed that total birth, marriage/divorce, sexually transmitted disease and suicide statistics have all been adversely affected by addiction to pornography.
The Ohio Legislature is already considering a bill to declare pornography a public health hazard “that leads to a spectrum of individual and societal harms.”
House Bill 180 calls lawmakers to “urge the enforcement of obscenity laws and increased regulation of pornography on the internet at the state and federal level in order to protect the state’s citizens, minors in particular, from such exposure.”
“As a diverse group of clergy, we believe if word got out of a multi-sector partnership between an engaged faith community and local government, strategically, it could deter potential human traffickers from establishing operations in our region,” Akuchie said.
While some argue that the pornography industry is harmless and concerns about pornography stem only from a religious or moral basis, research shows that “a child or teen’s exposure to violent pornography or excessive exposure to pornography can contribute to changing a child’s brain, social interactions and emotional skills well into their mid-20s,” says Cordelia Anderson, founder of the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation, as well as Sensibilities Prevention Services.
Not to mention “more than 80% of the time, women in the sex industry are under pimp control—that is trafficking,” says Melissa Farley, executive director of Prostitution Research & Education in San Francisco. “Pornography meets the legal definition of trafficking if the pornographer recruits, entices or obtains women for the purpose of photographing live commercial sex acts.”
Both Anderson and Farley agree that pornography is a public health crisis, and therefore requires public action.
“When the increased access and excessive use of pornography is linked to problematic behaviors, this trend then becomes a public health issue,” says Anderson. “As a public health concern, we must go beyond the individual responsibility to also include a system-wide response to address pornography’s toxic reach and impact.”
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