Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic
Milton Diamond•Eva Jozifkova•Petr Weiss
Received: 29 July 2009/Revised: 30 August 2010/Accepted: 30 August 2010
? Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
while others argue it is pleasurable to many and a feature of
free speech. The advent of the Internet with the ready avail-
ability of sexually explicit materials thereon particularlyhas
seemed to raise questions of its influence. Following the
effects of a new law in the Czech Republic that allowed
change. As found in all other countries in which the phe-
nomenonhasbeen studied, rapeandothersexcrimesdidnot
of child pornography was not illegal and, like those other
countries, showed a significant decrease in the incidence of
child sex abuse.
Pornography continues to be a contentious mat-
Internet ? Sex crimes ? Murder
Pornography ? Rape ? Child sex abuse ?
is that related to the presentation of sexual matters. Different
factions in many societies object in different ways. Some are
remotely related to sex; others desire an end to even minor
Extremists in the debate argue that pornography is a catalyst
their own broad definition of pornography.
Among the most prominent expressions against pornogra-
phy are in the works of Dworkin (1981) and MacKinnon and
Dworkin (1988). These women are so convinced of the neg-
ative effects of such materials they believe they ought to be
restricted in availability and made illegal. On the other hand,
there are many women in favor of sexually explicit materials
(SEM) or at least against its censorship (McElroy, 1997; Ne-
and pro pornography side of the argument holds that pornog-
raphy is an expression of fantasies that provide pleasure
(Christensen,1990),are media thatcaninhibit sexualactivity
(Wolf, 2003), and materials that can even act as a positive
displacement activity for sexual aggression (D’Amato, 2006;
Goldstein, Kant, Judd, Rice, & Green, 1971).
In an effort to study this issue, research has often been to
expose subjects—usually university students—to SEM and
then, with pencil and paper survey testing, evaluate their
their actual behavior (Donnerstein, Linz, & Penrod, 1987). A
more fruitful method, started by the Danish researcher Kut-
chinsky, was to see what actually happened in those countries
that transitioned from having a strict ban on SEM availability
M. Diamond (&)
Pacific Center for Sex and Society, John A. Burns School of
Medicine, University of Hawaii, 1960 East-West Road,
Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Arch Sex Behav
to a situation where the material was decriminalized. Using
data gathered from various governmental records, Kutchinsky
(1991) compared the relevant increase in available SEM fol-
Sweden, West Germany, and the U.S. with both pre- and post-
tries.His researchfoundthat, inthe countries studied,the rates
essentially remained stable following the ready availability of
erotic materials of all sorts. In none did sex crimes of any type
findings would hold across diverse cultures and traditions.
from those studied earlier, also found that available govern-
pornography increased, the rates of sexual crimes decreased.
supported this pattern, as did studies conducted in Croatia
(Landripet, Stulhofer, & Diamond, 2006) and Finland (Dia-
mond & Kontula, 2010).
The current article reports findings from a Slavic country,
the Czech Republic, with its own religious and cultural tradi-
tions unlike any previously studied. During the 1948–1989
tanical. Pornography, by any definition was absolutely pro-
of SEM increased explosively. Even the possession of child
pornography was not a criminal offense.
Czechoslovakia (Ceskoslovensko) had been a sovereign fed-
judicial and police data were kept separate for each state and
the Czech Republic were used.
materials, even items like Playboy magazine, were banned.
Withthe endofcommunismandthe comingofdemocracyin
siderably loosened so that even the possession of child por-
nography was not illegal. This period covers 18years of major
sociopolitical changes, including the country’s Velvet Revo-
lution, first free elections, establishment of a democratic gov-
from Slovakia. Our study period ended with data from 2007.1
In the Czech Republic, the laws concerning pornography
1961, as amended) leaves the exact definition of these legal
terms tocaselaw andtojurisprudence.Asa result,itdoesnot
explicitly define pornographic works. According to Czech
legal practice, a pornographic work can be any product that
Internet) affects and stimulates the sexual instinct in a very
gering morality’’may be considered excessively sexually gra-
phic and subject to criminal penalty. Section205 of the Czech
criminal code is the principal regulation applicable to the dis-
tribution of pornography. The basis for this law has been in
existence since 1961. In practice, the law essentially prohibits
materials in any form that might be considered socially dam-
aging. Under the communist regime, the law was very broadly
interpreted. Police and court actions would even judge nude
pictures as social ills and impose punishments. The criteria
for determining the materials illegality was not specifically
Judgment as to the acceptability or not of the materials’
characteristics were determined by sexologists and psychol-
with children or animals and somehow judged‘‘humiliating to
human dignity.’’The punishments can range from confiscation
of the materials and fine or imprisonment of 2–5years.
offenses, such as peeping and indecent exposure, are consid-
data separately on all these types of sex behaviors.
Prior to 2000, only interactions that involved genital–gen-
ital heterosexual intercourse were considered rape or attemp-
ted rape. From the year 2000, however, changes in the law
enacted prohibiting the possession of child pornography. According to
the law, persons holding a movie, photo, electronic, computer or any
be imprisoned for up to two years.
Arch Sex Behav
made it possible to prosecute with the same severity other
or coerced homosexual, anal, or oral intercourse. This thus
enhances the potential scope for a higher number of reported
sex related offenses.
against pornography (before November 1989) and the period
following until the end of 2007. Basically, this allowed com-
parison of a 15–17-year interval during which any pornogra-
phy was illegal with an 18-year span during which it was
the current era of readily obtainable Internet porn.
Accurate and definitive figures for the amounts of types of
the communist regime and policing activities against it then
became easilyprocured. One index of the availability ofpub-
lished pornography for the post 1989 interval under review
was obtained from PK 62 Inc., publishers of SEM holding a
majority of market share from its start-up in 1990 until the
tor of PK 62 (personal communication, November 19, 2009),
the Czech Republic and Slovakia together. Magazine sales
90% of PK 62 Inc., total sales. Their main competitor, MP
the year 2000, the sale of pornographic CDs became popular
and available. Another index as to the availability of pornog-
raphy would be the continuing increase in available Internet
access from fewer than 5.8% of the households having such
connections in 2001 to the 29.9% in 2007 (Czech Statistical
the types and amounts of sex-related SEM publicly available
have increased considerably since the change to democracy.
As comparative markers of social change, and for com-
study. Particularly appropriate for our comparisons, murders
sex-related (e.g., associated with rape) and non-sex related
categories (e.g., associated with robbery).
Most obvious and most significant of our findings is that the
number of reported cases of child sex abuse immediately
dropped markedly after SEM was legalized and became
reported child sex abuse, following this original precipitous
in incidence for a few years to peak in 1995 and 1998 but then
begun prior to democratization (Fig.1).
increase. Statistical analysisusing Pearson’s r for the relation
cases of child sex abuse found a negative correlation of -.78
Reported cases of rape did briefly pitch upward following
the change to democracy and the availability of pornography
communism: between about 500–750 cases a year. Consid-
ering the complete post 1989 period, the number of reported
rapes did not increase after SEM was legalized (t=6.7,
1971–1973 were not available
Arch Sex Behav
df=32, p\.001). This stability was maintained despite a
r=.98, p\.01, n=37). Statistical analysis did not show any
correlation between the number of men in the population and
the reported cases of rape (Pearson’s r=-.06).
The so-called lesser sexual offenses of indecent exposure,
peeping, etc. also decreased significantly following the legal
availability of SEM (t=9.57; df=20, p=.001) (Fig.1). In
comparison with our findings for the sex crimes mentioned
following democratization and porn availability, the number
significantly. Murders associated with robbery or with other
non-sex related motives increased sharply (t=-6.8, df=20,
p\.001) (Fig.2). Murders associated with sex related mat-
ters—small in number at any time—did not increase (t=
-0.3, df=23, p=.77) (Fig.2). The number of reported sex
related crimes decreased significantly from the pre-switch
period to the post period, (t=5.3, df=32, p\.001), whereas
the number of reported nonsexual crimes increased signifi-
cantly (t=-19.72, df=35, p\.001) (Fig.3).
the shift from a political system with its total ban on SEM and
anything that might be considered pornographic to the present
regime and the wide spread availability of SEM in various
its pre-democracy rate, resumed a decline that had begun, for
unknown reasons, in the early 1970s. The lesser sex related
crimes of peeping and indecent exposure also dropped signifi-
crimes are supposedly the most resistant to change (Marshall,
Concurrently, the number of reported rapes and attempted
rapes, after an immediate but brief rise following the release
from communism and advent of available SEM, returned to
their pre-revolution numbers. This occurred despite a signifi-
cant increase in the male (and female) populations.
Fig.2 Number of reported sexually motivated murders, murders
associated with robbery, and murders motivated by non-sex related
reasons 1971–2009. Data for the interval 1971/1974–1985 were not
Fig.3 The number of sexual (rape and child abuse) and nonsexual
Arch Sex Behav
evidence that the social views against SEM had markedly
changed. Weiss (2002) and Weiss and Zverina (2003) sur-
were more permissive than women. However, their results
showed that, among both men and women, social acceptance
of pornographic materials has essentially remained the same;
the acceptance of porn despite the dramatic change in cir-
men in all three surveys, approximately 30%, thought SEM
should be available without restrictions while only about half
as many women felt similarly. According to the 2003 survey,
26% of the women questioned would forbid pornography
while only 9% of the men would do so.
It might be said that while social conservatism persisted,
personalvalues changed. This seems indicated by results of a
study on teen females aged 16–18 and their sexual behavior.
During the period 1986–1989, response to the question of
‘‘what was the reasoning that led to first coitus’’the most fre-
for myself’’(Raboch, Raboch, & Sindlar, 1996).
Significantly, these changes haveoccurredduringa period
of nearly two decades, from 1989 to 2007, during which the
possession of child pornography was not illegal. At the same
measured by the increase in robbery, impersonal murder, and
other general types of crime. And, again in contrast, the
number of sexually motivated murders or killings somehow
associated with sex did not increase. Thus, the widespread
noticeable adverse social effect as measured by any reported
increase in sex crimes.
not increase, there were indications that, post communism,
Czech society became more sensitive to rape and sex related
crimes. Before the revolution, everything related to sex was
hidden and not publicly discussed. Afterward, problems in
these areas began to be openly dealt with. Organizations for
ing sexual matters emerged (e.g., http://www.linkabezpeci.
cz; http://profem.cz; http://www.stopnasili.cz; http://www.ce
ntrumelektra.cz) and were established after the revolution.
Training increasingly focused on special police details to
enhance their ability to communicate with and deal empathi-
cally with victims (Vonkova & Hunkova, 2004). Such activ-
ities were postulated as appropriate for the new democracy
period (see http://www.bkb.cz/).
It has been suggested that it is quite probable that false
accusations may at least partially explain the increase in the
number of reported sex abuse crimes after the government
changed in 1989. These appear to be associated with an
increase in divorce and other indices of social discord. Mala,
Raboch, and Sovak (1995) found an increased tendency for
occurred in property dividing disputes or guardianship legal
disputes involving child custody. Cases of divorce increased
df=35, p\.001; data provided by Czech Statistical Office).
The rebound jump in rape following the dramatic political
revolution might also be a phenomenon notably associated
with dramatic social change or upheaval. As in times of war,
the incidence of rape increases when offenders believe the
chaos will hide the incident and authorities have other priori-
ties that demand attention (Thornhill & Palmer, 2000). We
believethe disorderthat accompaniedthe politicalrevolution
The striking rise in reported child sex abuse depicted for
the last half decade of the 1990s, according to notations and
previously or afterward. They are believed to more closely
titutes, and clients following the introduction of capitalism.
This phenomenon seemed to be caused by the new economic
titution surge was dealt with, the downward trend in overall
reports of child sex abuse continued.
Kendall (in press) conducted an in-depth analysis of pos-
sible relationships between society, pornography, rape and
the Internet for the state of California. Kendall found that the
arrival of the Internet, while not seeming to have an effect on
other crimes, was associated with a reduction in rape inci-
porn use, user marital status, size of city in which potential
rapists might live, possible economic status, and other social
and demographic features, Kendall concluded that‘‘potential
rapists perceive pornography as a substitute for rape…por-
which themselves are substitutes for rape, making pornogra-
phy a net substitute for rape.’’This conclusion reflects on the
having extensively interviewed and surveyed rapists, pedo-
history of sex offenses about their use of pornography, found
‘‘…report a higher incidence of masturbation in response to
‘‘the erotic materials are much more significant in producing
than in inducing sexual relations.’’
Arch Sex Behav
It is also noteworthy that the number of paraphilias (e.g.,
indecent exposure) decreased significantly following the
ready availability of SEM. Usually such activities are con-
potential infractions in this regard were prevented by the
simple expedient of masturbation. We believe our findings
support the displacement function of pornography for poten-
tial sex offenders.
Issues surrounding child pornography and child sex abuse
are probably among the most contentious in the area of sex
ings for the Czech Republic that have echoed those found in
1999) that where so-called child-pornography was readily
available without restriction the incidence of child sexual
adult pornography appearing to substitute for sexual aggres-
sion everywhere it has been investigated, we believe the avail-
abilityof child porn does similarly. We believe this particularly
of pedophilic interest of the abuser, but because the child was
usedas a substitute subject.
We do not approve of the use of real children in the pro-
duction or distribution of child pornography but artificially
produced materials might serve. As it is, with restrictions on
even materials for the scientific study of the phenomenon
studies are the only way to begin to understand the phenom-
perpetrators or victims of sex abuse. With the new Czech
findings over the next 5–10years could show if this new pro-
hibition against child pornography is correlated with an
increaseor decreaseinsex crimesagainst childrenor without
any noticeable effect.
Important to note are recent findings by Swiss investigators
checked recidivism rates for ‘‘hands on’’ child sex-offenders
with porn-viewing-only offenders and concluded‘‘Consuming
child pornography alone is not a risk factor for committing
hands-on sex offenses….The majority of the investigated con-
sumers had no previous convictions for hands-on sex offenses.
well as for recidivism with child pornography, is favorable.’’
istry of Justice of the Czech Republic, Vladimir Stolin at Ministry of
Interior of the Czech Republic, Pavel Kvoriak at PK 62 Inc., Barbora
from the J. S. Purkinje University in Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic.
The authors deeply thank Tomas Husak at Min-
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