11:43 GMT20 February 2020
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    The research has been carried out as part of the government’s efforts to outline a new policy that would tighten children’s access to adult films online. A government report last year found that a quarter of New Zealanders under 12 have seen pornography.

    A snapshot of what pornography is popular in New Zealand has raised concerns among officials as to whether youngsters may be exposed to “problematic” content relating to coercion and unhealthy family relations.

    The Office of Film and Literature Classification today released its break-down of the 196 most popular videos that New Zealanders watch on Pornhub. With 33 billion unique visits in 2018, New Zealand is ranked 13th in the world for page views per capita on Pornhub (the world’s biggest porn site).

    Step porn's popular appeal

    An analysis of those most trending videos – representing 46 hours of content – showed that 46 percent of them were so-called step porn, a genre that depicts sex between actors playing step-siblings.

    The report failed to conclude if watching step porn could entice young viewers to engage in sex with family members in real life, but still warned that this kind of pornography is “problematic.”

    “Videos in this category were more likely (42% vs 35%) to involve some form of non-consensual behaviour,” the study said. “Even when consent is clearly established and given without pressure or coercion, the narratives tend to raise problematic issues around power dynamics and inappropriate sexual behaviour within a family context.”

    Telling the fantasy from the reality

    The censors also found that 10 percent of the most viewed videos featured physical aggression, while 35 percent contained some form of non-consensual behaviour (i.e. requests to stop or signs of resistance).

    Yet still, those 35 percent of videos were said to mostly focus on mutually enjoyable sex and not on force or coercion, as is the case with ‘rape porn’.

    “Nonetheless, any non-consensual behaviour is highly problematic,” the authors said. “Many of these popular videos – notably those in the ‘step fantasy’ genre – involved narratives where people are pressured to agree to sex, or ‘tricked’ into sex without their knowledge. Other examples included spying, or initiating sexual activity while someone is sleeping.”

    “For most adult viewers the contrived, unrealistic ‘porny’ narrative is evident,” admitted Chief Censor David Shanks. “But for young people, or people inclined to coercion, the repeated theme of ‘no’ becoming ‘yes’ could very easily be problematic.”

    Only 29 percent of the clips showed some form of affection between the partners, and condoms were used in only 3 percent of videos with penetrative sex – something the censors said did not contribute to sexual education.

    Slapping children on the hand

    Pornography, except for some of its most extreme forms, is generally treated liberally in New Zealand. Although there is a restriction in place on the sale or distribution of pornography to children under 18, it does not cover the adult content available online and delivered via video-on-demand.

    Last year, David Shanks released a report stating that a quarter of all children in New Zealand under the age of 12 have seen pornography.

    The government is now seeking to enforce age limitations online as well. The possible measures include a stipulation for viewers to provide age ID to get access or an instruction for businesses and institutions with free Wi-Fi to filter the content.

    The results of the latest finding will be used to draw up a new policy, with a bill to be tabled in parliament next year.

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    New Zealand, pornography
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