Child Porn on Streets Stirs Outrage

Child pornography is being openly sold on the footpaths of the city’s busiest road, outraging both tourists and residents who said it would not be tolerated in any other country.


After receiving several complaints about the DVD and VCD vendors along Sukhumvit Road between Soi 3 and 21, the Bangkok Post Sunday discovered that child pornography was openly displayed on tables along with copies of the latest Hollywood blockbusters.


The child pornography, sold on VCDs for 80 baht a disc, featured children from Burma, China, Europe, the Philippines and Thailand. Some of the VCD covers, which graphically showed children in sex acts, advertised that the children were as young as seven years old. Pornographic videos of bestiality were also displayed by vendors.


Several diplomats who live in the area expressed dismay when told of the open sales and after being shown the explicit covers of the VCDs.


”This is totally outrageous and should not be tolerated by the authorities,” said one ambassador who lives in the area. ”You would have to look hard for any country in the world where this would be allowed, let alone on the main tourist street of the capital.”


One resident who alerted the Bangkok Post Sunday to the VCDs said he was horrified that police were not cracking down on the vendors. ”They were being openly sold on roadside stalls at about 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t believe it.”


The open display of pornography would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, although pirated Hollywood movies were freely available.


Often the sellers of the Hollywood movies only display the covers, and get an assistant to retrieve the actual discs to minimise the chances of arrest.


A senior police officer who works on copyright infringement said local police and other enforcement agencies can confiscate obscene materials based only on the displayed cover.


”To distribute or exhibit obscene materials is a criminal offence under Section 287 of the penal code of Thailand with the punishment not exceeding three years’ imprisonment or fine not exceeding 6,000baht, or both,” said the officer, who asked to remain anonymous.


”It is a quite easy case; you don’t have to do much investigation because it is there on display. The policeman or any other authorised person can just take it from the stall and arrest the vendor. That’s all. But someone has to go there and do it. This is the problem.”


He added that the pirated pornographic video trade is run by ”influential people” so there was only a remote chance it would ever be stopped. ”It is like a certain casino on Phetchaburi Road _ not far away from Pantip Plaza _ which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No one raids the building. The people who work there and run the place are untouchable,” the officer said.


Last Thursday, the Bangkok Post Sunday team counted 17 stalls between Soi 3 and 21 selling pirated movies, with nine displaying pornography. There were 18 other stalls selling sex aids and erectile dysfunction drugs, eight of which were also offering a variety of sex toys.


Despite the open display of pornography on Sukhumvit Road, there is virtually none on Silom Road.


”This might indicate different police districts,” said the officer. ”Silom Road is under the jurisdiction of Bangrak police station and has a different set of rules from the Lumpini station, which has jurisdiction over Sukhumvit Road.”


 

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