Recent discussions concerning Manga drawings are challenging the debate around what constitutes child pornography. A few days ago courts wrapped up a hearing involving a man possessing over fifty drawings of Manga which depicted children in pornographic and sexual settings. The case went to the highest court in Sweden where the man was freed from charges of possession of child pornography on the basis that the drawings depicted fantasy characters and not actual children. The debates have since been on going with many people supporting the verdict.
Manga is a Japanese form of drawings that are usually presented in the form of comics. If one does a Google search for Manga the drawings that are shown very often depict young and childish looking girls dressed in revealing clothing. The women, men, boys, and girls appear extremely stereotypically created; the women and girls are very feminine while the men and boys are depicted as traditionally masculine. It is not difficult to understand why erotic Manga has been under discussion since it appears that the characters often seem very young while being sexualized in a manner that can be interpreted as inappropriate.
So can drawings of children in sexual situations or children being depicted performing sexual activities be labeled as child pornography? I do not know. In a way we must recognize that these are drawings. If no actual child was the model for the animated drawing it probably cannot be considered child pornography. However, the possessions of such drawings are without a doubt disturbing and inappropriate. But, should they be illegal? If a child was forced to model for such a drawing, than yes, most definitely this should be considered child pornography, making the possession illegal.
What makes this question so difficult to answer is the fact that the argument is made claiming that these Manga drawings are simply animated fantasies with no similarity to actual children. Pornographic drawings that include children or teenagers have not been uncommon throughout history, despite the illegality of the sexual encounter between an adult and a child. Do arguments such as these legitimize or justify inappropriate sexual fantasies that include children? Should society dictate fantasies as morally inappropriate, if they are only fantasies? Should the laws concerning what is regarded as child pornography change to include drawings? It is hard to say. Personally, I believe that the possession of drawings depicting children involved in sexual activities is extremely disturbing, even if it simply describes a fantasy. The only advantage of such drawings, that I could see, would be if there was a possibility that Manga could potentially substitute other child pornography in a way that does not harm any children.
It does seem disturbing that some individuals fantasies revolve around children in sexual situations and I believe that possession of Manga depicting such situations is definitely concerning; even if it does not predict or insinuate inappropriate sexual behavior towards children. On the other hand, if children are not involved, or a child has not modeled for the drawing, it is difficult to claim such drawings to be child pornography. Is the very inappropriate sexual attraction to children being justified with the possession of such drawings (claiming that it is only a drawing and a fantasy) or can it substitute child pornography in which actual children are being violated?