Tech savvy young people in Jalalabad with no access to Internet are paying enterprising content dealers to load pornography onto their smartphones or other devices. These photos and videos can then be shared, leading to an epidemic of such material in the society.
In this conservative culture, many are afraid that this will create problems in their future lives.
“Content dealers put pornography on young people’s smartphones, which entirely changes their way of thinking,” said Hamidullah 20, a resident of Jalalabad city. “Youth living in rural areas are becoming addicted to it.”
Content dealers are small-time businessmen who download content from the Internet and sell it for a small price to those with technology but no access to the World Wide Web. Young men can load their smartphones with songs, short videos, photos and other materials.
Hamidullah asks the government to take serious action to control the issue.
Officials in the Nangarhar Directorate of Culture and Information, which also has a commission for the prevention of vice, say they are trying to prevent the spread of pornography in the city. But they emphasize that they cannot do it alone.
“The commission is preventing the spread of whatever is immoral and against our religion,” said Awrang Samim, head of the Directorate. “Every Afghan should take responsibility for resolving the problems their society is facing. A commission cannot do anything without the support of the people.”
Many young people and students gather in Talshi Square in Jalalabad City, asking content dealers in small shops to send them music, photos or videos.
One such content dealer finally agreed to talk to Paiwandgāh.
“We do not send pornography to people’s phones unless they ask for it,” he said. “Even though we know the negative impact these materials can have on society, we will put pornography on smartphones for money.”
The price is not great: the dealers will fill a 2 GB memory chip for 80 afghani (about $1.20).
According to Mawlawi Redi Gul, principal of Darulqura religious school of Nangarhar, these content dealers are themselves teenagers and earn money by spreading pornography to people’s smart phones.
“The spread of pornography and earning money through it is illegal (haram),” he said. “It is the responsibility of government to stop the spread of such things, as it has negative impact on youth’s mind and is forbidden in Islam.”
Even younger school students have their own smartphones, and copy music, photos and pornography to watch with their classmates at school. This presents a problem to education officials, who are worried about the effect of such things on young minds.
“In order to keep pornography and other immoral things out of the reach of students, we have asked the schools not to let students bring their smart phones to class,” said Mohammad Asef Shenwari, press officer for the Nangarhar Directorate of Education. “Schools have disciplinary committees who search students for their phones before entering the building.”
But many think the government is not doing enough.
“The spread of pornography is increasing, and it is the result of irresponsible government, especially the Directorate of Culture and Information,” said Gulzada Sangar, a journalism student in Nangarhar University. “They have to take serious actions to stop it. They must make security officials prevent the spread of these immoral things in our society, otherwise the new generation will become addicted and will be left out of the blessings of education.”
Zabiullah Zmarai, member of the Nangarhar Provincial Council, pointed to three reasons why the spread of pornography is not being stopped.
First of all, he said, families should be careful with their teenagers not to watch or have access to pornography. Second, students should be made aware of the negative impact of pornography through their school lessons and finally, security forces or the committee for the prevention of vice should arrest those who spread such data.