COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—In an astonishing display of government-imposed morality gone wild, Sri Lanka has directed newspapers to publish photos of people police say have acted in locally produced pornographic films. The outing is part of a court-ordered crackdown on pornography in the Buddhist-majority nation of 120 million that seems to be moving rightward at a fast clip.
“Police have identified 83 people they say have acted in the films found on websites, and got a court order to have media outlets publish their pictures to help locate the suspects,” reported abc.net.au.
The decision to track down the alleged offenders comes on top of the blocking of 100 porn sites by the country’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, and the arrest by police of people with porn on their mobile phones.
"This is illegal and we need them to be identified for investigations," said police spokesman Priyashanth Jayakody, referring to the local performers.
According to the article, the porn crackdown is consistent with “a movement within a faction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government to ban alcohol,” a move that has thus far been resisted by the tourist industry, which stands to lose significant revenue if the ban is allowed to proceed.
The BBC has reported that the performers being hunted could face fines and up to six months in jail, and also that police are hoping the performers, once caught, will lead them to the distributors of the contraband content.
The BBC also reported that of the 83 people whose photos have been published in Sri Lankan newspapers, 80 are women. A police spokesperson, Prishantha Jayakody, told news outlet that there has been no public response thus far to the pictures, which were taken off Sri Lankan porn sites.
"Most of these people are Sri Lankans," said Jayakody. "We know this from their features."
One newspaper has refused to run the photos, said the BBC. Its news editor said he had ethical concerns about doing so.