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Sociologists angry over biased press


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Lisbon University sociologists have expressed anger and disappointment in the way the Portuguese media has sensationalised and distorted facts and figures presented in what is the most in-depth study into Portuguese attitudes and sexual practises to date.

At the official public presentation of an all-encompassing study based on scientific surveys into Sexual Behaviour in Portugal of 3,643 men and women over 16, the panel of experts claim that information and figures were “taken out of context”, that the information was presented in a “sensational and biased manner” and in some instances was “totally misinterpreted and incorrect.”

Levelling criticisms principally at the daily newspaper Público, Sofia Aboim told The Resident that the whole way the research was twisted had “really annoyed her.”

Sofia Aboim said it was a shame that intense, scientific and statistical research had been “trivialised” by the media, particularly in her study into homosexuality and social attitudes to it, which could only serve to encourage homophobia in a country “which had come on leaps and bounds in terms of tolerance and acceptance in the past 30 years.”

“Our studies showed that Portugal was, in many respects, in line with attitudes in other Western European countries like France and the United Kingdom, a fact which the papers neglected to point out.

“Because of the technical nature of the statistics, I actually asked the journalist who wrote the article to send me her copy, not to censure it but to make sure it was understood and not taken out of context, which the journalist had patently refused to do,” she said.

Sexual behaviour

The article claimed that in Portugal overall 70 per cent of those asked thought that sexual relations between members of the same sex were “always wrong” which generally only accounted for those in the 55-65 age brackets.

The study also looked into various other sexual behavioural patterns such as the number of partners both men and women had, which revealed that sometimes “women may have tended to downplay the true extent of partners so as not to appear, in their own minds, as promiscuous.”

“Men on the other hand, we think, probably boasted about the true number of partners upwards because of the Latin macho tendency to want to appear virile and go-getting when it came to sexual exploits,” she explained.

Sofia Aboim said that even though Portugal was a largely secular society with increasingly falling numbers of churchgoers, particularly among the younger generation, the weight of the Catholic religion had made those questioned conservative and reluctant to be open in their stated attitudes even if in actual practice the truth might be very different.

Also read ‘Portugal is homophobic, university study claims’ in The Resident edition of May 9.

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