Dress rehearsal for ‘moral police’

By Damith Wickremasekara

The 'Moral Police' has been summoned to enforce a 'Censorship' on photographs in newspapers and Magazines and pictures in the electronic media, in a fresh effort to reduce what they call sexual crime against children and women.

Under the crackdown initially, the Police Children and Women Bureau will warn newspapers and magazines over what they perceive as 'Obscene’ photographs. Unless the warning is heeded, legal action would be initiated, OIC of the Children and Women's Bureau, Buddhika Balachandra told The Sunday Times.

He said that the Police would decide on the photographs published, or TV programmes broadcast whether they would be considered "Obscene", and some newspaper publications have already been spoken to.

Chief Inspector Balachandra said that the decision to crack down followed a study on some 30 cases of sexual abuse of children and women in which the suspects had claimed that the exposure to sexual scenes and newspapers, magazines and television programmes had provoked them to commit the crime.

However, no guidelines have been drawn on how photographs or programmes would be considered as "Obscene".

He said already newspapers and magazines were being scrutinized and television programmes are being monitored to detect whether photographs and scenes that were considered "Obscene" were being published or broadcast.

He said two popular dance programmes on two separate television stations had already been identified as those going against the existing laws.

CI Balachandra said that the media would be kept under continuous scrutiny under the programme as the police hope to continue to implement the existing laws.

He said they would be acting on public complaints in addition to their own investigations and had already received such complaints. A violation of the regulations could result in a six month jail term or a Rs. 10,000 fine.

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