News / Asia

India Debates Porn Ban

A five-year-old rape victim is moved to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital from Swami Dayanand hospital for treatment in New Delhi, April.19, 2013.
A five-year-old rape victim is moved to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital from Swami Dayanand hospital for treatment in New Delhi, April.19, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
India is debating banning pornography, as the country copes with a rising number of incidents of sexual violence.The ban on pornography has been sought by a petition in the country’s supreme court, but is winning support from women activists.

Lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani - based in the central Indian city of Indore - wants watching pornography to be made a non-bailable offense because he feels there is a direct connection between sexual assault and looking at pornographic videos.

“They corrupt the people. They corrupt the mind. Indian kids are accessing more graphic and brutal videos,” said Vaswani.

To buttress his argument, Vaswani points to reports that the suspect arrested for the recent rape of a five-year-old girl in New Delhi told police that he watched porn clips on a mobile phone before the brutal crime.

The lawyer has outlined his concerns that existing laws are not adequately protecting society from pornography, in a petition to the Supreme Court. Distributing pornographic material is illegal in India.  Watching it is not. The top court last week asked three government ministries to respond to the proposal by Monday.     

The petition comes as reports of violent sex crimes targeting women and children are hitting headlines and igniting street protests. Laws have been tightened since the horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi five months ago.  But police figures show that the number of rapes has increased in the city.

What is worrying many activists is the growing number of children being targeted. Some are blaming the trend on an increase in access to online pornography.  

Although less than ten percent of Indians have home computers connected to the Internet, mobile smart-phone ownership has increased phenomenally, providing easy access to Internet videos. In the last decade, the proportion of searches on Google for pornographic material has increased fivefold.

Leading women activists in the country now back blocking pornography sites. They say that in the culturally conservative country, where the subject of sex is still largely taboo, pornography is negatively shaping the way young people think about sex.

Ranjana Kumari heads the Center for Social Research in New Delhi. “There is lot of segregation that young men and women are raised with.  There are many, many issues in India. It really creates all kind of abnormalities in terms of understanding of sex," Kumari said. "It is always showing that men can take control of women’s bodies and do whatever they want. It is very important for India to review this and also to see how it can be put under maximum control.”

Junior Information and Technology Minister Milind Deora says authorities plan to consult experts on whether pornography is provoking sexual violence.

Even if porn sites are blocked, Internet users could still find a way to access pornography.

Sunil Abraham of the Center for Internet and Society cites the examples of countries which have imposed similar bans.  “Even in China, pornography continues to be available and likewise in Pakistan. This is because, where there is a strong human motivation to access online content, like alcohol, prohibition becomes a losing strategy," Abraham stated. "This is very similar to underage drinking and is best regulated at home. ”

As authorities debate whether to restrict online pornography in the coming weeks, the outcome could have an enormous impact setting online standards for one of the world’s fastest growing populations of Internet users.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tiger from: India
April 29, 2013 4:43 AM
All of the rapes involved Alcohol and Drunkards. Why not think about banning Alcohol in India ?

by: Anonymous
April 26, 2013 2:52 AM
<begin sarcasm>
I saw the picture of one rape-accused on TV. He was picking his nose and wearing a white shirt. We should ban picking nose and wearing white shirts as that leads to criminal mindset and rape! The solution is right in front of us - so easy!
<end sarcasm>

by: Sanjay from: Delhi
April 25, 2013 8:15 PM
India's crafty ruling kleptocracy is borrowing a chapter from China's autocrat rulers, by declaring a pornography ban they can easily extend it to suppress legitimate political dissent. India's ruling kleptocrats are very worried by the massive criticism they get from internet commentators. A pornography crackdown would be a very convenient pretext to censor political critics and opponents of the ruling regime.

by: Neurotic Knight
April 25, 2013 7:47 AM
Somalia has no internet mostly, must be the haven for women, while countries like netherlands were internet is everywhere or germany called as porn capital of the world, must be the worst place for women, i mean watching porn is the biggest cause of rape in india that is why most rapes occur in villages and rural parts which have high speed broadband unlike cities. Porn is about sex, rape is about power, stop confusing the people and straying us away from the real issue.

by: Ranjan Das from: USA
April 24, 2013 2:56 PM
Both of you are in USA where porn is legal. Do you see Rape crimes everywhere? Narrow minded bans do not help. It does not even solve the problem. It is the mindset that needs the change. Suppression does not help. It just leads to a revolution.

by: Ashok from: USA
April 24, 2013 2:18 PM
Yes, they should ban Porn in India and also ban the file sharing sites that are used to upload/download illegal content.

Unfortunately due to poor Police presence, poor enforcement and poor education people are letting their primitive instincts take over. Since changing the system is vastly more complex, the best way is to ban all this content.

by: powerandprivilege from: USA
April 24, 2013 12:48 PM
Pornography, including the soft porn that passes as choreography in Bollywood culture should be banned. They dehumanize women and make sex as a recreational activity to be had by macho men on demand. India should also consider introducing partial prohibition - so that the sale of alcoholic beverages is restricted - to be consumed in homes, and not in public places. Taking such drastic measures is necessary because of declining female population on account of female abortions.

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