Porn Still Sold on Military Bases Despite Ban

Jul 1, 2013 12:30 PM PST

WASHINGTON — The military already banned porn in 1996, but faith-based advocacy group Morality in Media thinks the message has been lost.

The group wrote a letter to Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month, asking him to better enforce the Military Honor and Decency Act, which prohibits the sale or rental of sexually explicit material at exchanges on ships or at commissaries.

For added clout, Morality in Media simultaneously published pictures taken on bases depicting open displays of Playboy and Penthouse magazines for sale. One of the photos was taken at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, the base at the center of the recent scandal in which 43 women reported sexual abuse by their training commanders.

"Having this material available and actually sold and therefore sanctioned by the military, sends a signal to the women in the military that the sexually exploitive nature in the military is acceptable,” Morality in Media President Patrick Trueman said.

The group operates under the premise that viewing porn is linked to sexual abuse  — that an increase in the former leads to an increase in the latter. Many empirical studies do not support this claim.

Hagel did not respond to the letter, but other members of the military and legislative bodies have vocalized a need to bolster enforcement. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus issued an order on June 13 implementing periodic “checks” of all bases for “materials that are patently lewd, lascivious, obscene or pornographic” and the subsequent removal thereof.

Sen. Roger Wicker pushed the topic onto the agenda for the  2014 Defense Budget Bill markup.

The Senate’s report reads, "The committee has been made aware that, despite this prohibition, sexually explicit material remains available for sale on certain Department of Defense premises. The committee is concerned about the impact this material may have on the health and wellness of military service members and their families."

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