NASSAU, Bahamas - The increasing number of Bahamians with paid memberships to adult websites is of concern to police, who claim child pornography is becoming more of a problem.
Earlier this month, Assistant Superintendent of Police Paul Rolle spoke with media representatives about the increasing number of residents who join adult chat rooms and websites.
"It is growing by leaps and bounds, so you can expect to have the problem of Internet porn in the Bahamas," he said. "What we have seen now, with the opening of the cellular world, is that persons are now using their cell phones to generate and transmit these pornographic materials ... most of them from the Internet. They download it to their machines and start passing them around."
Rolle said the Internet has made pornography more of a problem by increasing the amount of available material and the efficiency of its distribution.
Rolle said more pornography crimes in the Bahamas have been reported since the Cyber Crimes Unit was established in 2006. He said five crimes related to Internet pornography were reported in 2006, 17 were reported in 2007, and 18 have been reported in 2008.
While there is no evidence to suggest that a pornography industry is brewing in the Bahamas, Rolle said, evidence clearly shows that some Bahamians are preoccupied with casual sexual activity.
"We have put persons before the courts [for pornography], and we have a number of matters pending in the criminal court," he said. "For the year, we have had two cases, but last year, we had about seven, and for all of those matters that we had, the complainants came in and withdrew, and so there was no need to go any further with it."
In the Bahamas, possession of pornography is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Sgt. Mark Barrett of the Cyber Crimes Unit said any pornographic image featuring what appears to be a minor also is a crime in the Bahamas. Rolle said that even if the person in the picture may be an adult dressed like a schoolgirl or wearing a school uniform, it is still an offense.
There are several laws governing Internet use in the Bahamas, including the Computer Misuse Act (2004) and the Act to Protect the Privacy of an Individual, Electronic Communication and Transaction Act (2007).
Police said there are more than 84,000 Internet subscribers in the Bahamas.