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The right to desire – What about pedophiles?

The right to desire – What about pedophiles?

Sexual rights include the right to express one’s sexuality freely. An obvious limitation to this is the prohibition of harming others. It is a commonly held belief though, that everyone should be allowed to fantasise. How does this principle hold, when a person who does that, is a pedophile? In this paper I will study pedophilic desire from ethical and societal perspectives. I will utilize views form legislation, sex therapy and recent research from sociology and forensic psychiatry.

New European Union legislation is tightening its grip on any kind of child pornography, and the same trend can be seen in other parts of the world too. This includes also drawn pictures and other purely fictional material. I argue that the attempt to criminalize fantasies may be a setback against efforts to prevent mistreatment of children. Recent research conducted by Milton Diamond and his associates shows that use of (fictional) child pornography may act as an inhibitor of actual mistreatment of children.  This finding is compatible with the permission giving method of the PLISSIT model, which is designed to release the client’s guilt and anxiety and thus to improve her ability to make informed decisions and maintain self-control.

As a conclusion I suggest a review of policy towards more reasonable and balanced legislation and jurisprudence that does not demonize pedophiles and draws the line between fantasies and harmful acts, not between right and wrong desire. This would be more effective strategy for harm prevention than the prevailing draconian path.

Speakers: Tommi Paalanen
Areas of Interest / Categories: WAS 2013

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