Current Affairs Child porn consumers safe from prosecution in the Czech Republic

09-02-2007 16:13 | Daniela Lazarová

Austrian police this week busted a huge international pornography network involving more than 2,360 suspects from 77 countries. Sixty-three Czechs were among those who downloaded child-porn from paid-web sites but shockingly enough the Austrians can expect little cooperation from the Czech police. The Czech Republic is one of the few countries in Europe where it is not a criminal offence to download or possess child pornography which means that the suspects will get off scot-free.

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Sex therapist Petr WeissSex therapist Petr Weiss While members of the porn network in other states can expect to spend at least two years in jail, the sixty three Czech paedophiles have nothing to worry about. Under Czech law only the production and distribution of child-porn is considered a criminal offense. Sex therapist Petr Weiss explains why he feels that this is legitimate:

"Every civilized country protects children from premature sex and so the production of child porn is, of course, punishable. But on the other hand, child porn can help pedophiles to fulfill their deviant needs on the fantasy level and therefore they do not need to put into practice their pedophile urges. So abuse of children may actually decrease with the use of child porn."

However the demand for child porn is what keeps the wheels of the child porn business turning and more and more children are being abused or even killed in the process. Petr Weiss says that with present day technology there are other options which would help pedophiles and protect children.

"Nowadays child porn may be produced by animation - like Jurassic Park for instance - so no children need be abused in the course of production. And from the medical point of view this kind of porn can help to prevent real life abuse of children."

What about the argument that if they spend hours watching these things and fantasizing they will get a strong urge to go out and do it?

"Opinions on that differ among sex therapists, but when in the 60s Denmark started to tolerate -not legalize, but only tolerate - child porn the number of abused children significantly decreased."

Although many sex therapists support this argument child-rights activists have long been pushing for the law to be changed. A bill which has just gone through its first reading in Parliament -and allegedly stands a fair chance of approval in both houses - envisages a three year sentence for possession of child pornography and a 12 year sentence for its production and distribution. Marie Vodickova, director of the Children at Risk Fund says such a law is long overdue.

"I think it is absolutely scandalous that downloading and possession of child porn is not a criminal offense in this country - because by buying it pedophiles are supporting an industry that tortures and even kills young children. We have lobbied against this repeatedly in the past and I hope that the bill which is now in Parliament will be approved as soon as possible so that the Czech Republic can become part of the civilized world in this respect."

The left wing parties in parliament who have been pushing for the bill to win approval say there is one more reason why deputies should vote in favour of this legislation - if the country retains the status quo then the Czech Republic could soon become a haven for pedophiles from across Europe.

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