By Rachael Wong
A 46-year-old man from South Australia has been jailed for nine months after sending videos of child pornography involving acts of bestiality to an undercover officer.
One of the videos showed the sexual abuse of a child under the age of six, and another two depicted “an adolescent female engaged in bestiality offences”.
The offender, Matthew Grant Kuchel, argued that he sent the videos only to access adult pornography. The judge said the offending is serious, but accepted Kuchel’s explanation that he had no interest in the material, and that “he merely used the dissemination of material... in order to obtain further adult pornography.”
The judge said he has been “disinhibited” by significant drug use and, additionally, has a “propensity for hyposexuality”.
Several questions come to mind.
Regardless of whether the offender was interested in the material or not, is nine months imprisonment really sufficient for perpetuating this kind of sexual violence against children?
Was the offender’s hyposexuality (a diminished sex drive or libido) a consequence of heavy porn consumption (which we know can lead to sexual dysfunction)?
To what degree is “normal”, “adult” pornography fuelling the desire for more extreme pornography, including material with animals and children?
Research shows that the more porn one uses the more one “needs” and the more perverse one’s tastes become.
Dr Karen Franklin, a forensic psychologist in the US, says “habituation makes it harder and harder to achieve gratification. What was once new and exciting becomes stale and boring. To achieve the sexual release that was once so easy, the consumer must frenetically search for ever-more-exotic and novel stimuli.”
“With an endless menu of novel sexual stimuli available via the mere click of a mouse, this process of habituation sends heavy consumers spiraling down a rabbit hole, sampling ever-more-hardcore themes, from bestiality and bondage to myriad fetishes and – heedless of the legal risk – child pornography,” she says.
“About half of male porn users report that they have found themselves searching for content that they formerly considered disgusting or unappealing. Given what we know about habituation, it is not surprising that this progression to more deviant themes is predicted by the amount of time spent online, the quantity of videos viewed and the age of first porn use.”
Cases like this one are shocking, but we need to consider and address what role pornography more generally plays in catalysing such offending, as well as the grave harm – physical, emotional and cultural – it is causing men, women and society as a whole.
Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women’s Forum Australia