Did Pakistan really top the ‘porn-searching’ list?

Published: January 20, 2015
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This list insinuates that Muslim countries are goldmines for porn companies and sites.

Pakistan (also referred to as ‘Pornistan’ in recent time) has topped the list of Porn-searching countries in the world yet again, as revealed by news website Salon. That’s not it – it gets even more disturbing when the story states that,

“It leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, cats, dogs and snakes.”

Snakes? Are you kidding me?! I really wouldn’t want to get into the details of that.

Following us, on the list, were countries like Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

This list insinuates that Muslim countries are goldmines for porn companies and sites. Today, however, I will not be questioning is the possibility, what will be questioned here is the validity and accuracy of said statistics.

What if I were to tell you that the statistics are, in fact, incorrect?

What if I were to tell you that Google never released a survey on global porn consumerismp?

I decided to do some Google “trending” of my own. As per Google Trends, in terms of porn-related searches by region, Papua New Guinea tops the list which is followed by Trinidad and Tobago, Solomon Islands, our beloved India, Fiji and then Pakistan, ranking sixth in the top 10.

In terms of cities, New Delhi, Pune and Mumbai top the list, followed by Kuala Lumpur, Dublin, Dallas and London. None of the Pakistani cities are included in the top 10 cities of the world. Yup, not one.

In terms of sex-related searches by region, Sri Lanka takes the lead with India and Bangladesh following closely behind. Pakistan, again, ranks sixth. By city, it is Pune, Chennai and Bangalore that take the top three ranks, followed by Dhaka and Howrah.

In terms of searches related to naked girls by region, Bhutan takes the lead with Papua New Guinea and Nepal following behind. Pakistan does not even make it to the top 10.

Yes, Pakistan is a part of the top 10, but to say that it tops the list is, as you can see, a rather gross exaggeration.

According to Alexa, an analytics website, a majority of the viewers on Pornhub, the largest pornography website on the internet, are from the US.

Salon, on its website, states that it is, “an award-winning news magazine and online community that creates original journalism and amplifies the best of hundreds of other independent media sources” operating from the US. I think the word “amplifies” describes their motto accurately.

To further “sensationalise” the porn-conundrum, their sub-head on the story states that:

“Data reveal six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. It’s not as surprising as it sounds.”

While many different media outlets may have posted the story on their respective websites, the results found in the above-mentioned Google trends expose the contentious credibility of this ‘award winning news magazine’. Just because an online magazine says “data released by Google” does not make it true.

Things like these make one wonder whether ethical journalism will ever trump ratings.

Yes, you can call us out on the terrorism that plagues our country, the women’s rights we do not always offer, our struggle for education, and other areas we know we are at the losing end, and we will agree with you whole-heartedly. But to concoct something from the figment of your (very creative) imagination is something we will not permit. I do not, in any way, doubt Pakistan’s porn… ‘habits’, but suggesting that we top the list in order to defame us and other Muslim countries reeks of a vendetta. Before doing so, might I suggest quitting your job as journalists so that the profession is not smeared by this unethical campaign? I mean seriously, I don’t see what religion had to do with it anyway.

What is it about Pakistan’s porn statistics that interests the world so much? Yes, we watch porn. You do too. So what? Agreed, we like making headlines as much as any other country does, but to pick on us for all the wrong reasons is beyond me. Sure, sometimes it is justified – like reports on the Karachi airport attack, the Peshawar school attackOsama Bin Laden being found in Abbottabad – but porn, really? While I understand there is nothing better than talking about Pakistan, I also believe that most of these stories are not even ‘newsworthy’ let alone front page material. Trust me, we have a lot of newsworthy stories you can tap into here.

It’s like people have Pakistan on Google Alerts – every time something happens in Pakistan, their hands get fidgety and a headline is concocted. It’s like,

Real story: “Dog dies in an accident in Pakistan”

Global media: “Dog dies in Pakistan because Shia-Sunni conflict, Islam, India-Pakistan, terrorism, Muslim, pornistan, Taliban, sex, burqa, rape (etcetera) crossed into Lyari.”

And oh yes, the excerpt to this story is,

“All of this threatens the western world.”

Yes, sex and everything related to it sells. But to say that it’s selling most in Pakistan, a country still struggling with a YouTube ban, a country where a majority of explicit (and non-explicit, mind you) websites are banned, is like saying Pakistan has hidden oil reserves and gold mines. We might not top the list for porn-searching, but Salon clearly tops the list for fabricating news and spewing hate against my country. Sensationalism may bring you ratings, but credibility is like virginity – once lost, you are not getting it back. A lesson you should have learnt during your little porn search extravaganza.

Zoya Zaidi

Zoya Zaidi

The writer is an editor at a local daily. She tweets as @zozaidi (twitter.com/zozaidi).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.