Should India ban Internet porn?

April 16, 2013

(This commentary reflects the thoughts of the author. It does not reflect the views of Thomson Reuters Corp.)

Neighbours China and Pakistan do it. Guyana in South America and Egypt do it. Even South Korea, where 81.1 percent of the population is online, does it. Should India make Internet pornography illegal too?

The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a public interest litigation which seeks to make watching online porn a non-bailable offence.

Petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani says that the proliferation of Internet pornography is debasing people’s idea of sex, and also results in increased sexual assaults on women.

In a society which publicly espouses prudishness and where sex talk in public space is almost absent, porn videos and pictures (not to mention sex toys) are freely available, and online porn is thriving.

While there are social and political groups who attack Valentine’s Day celebrations and “moral policemen” who haul up couples sitting together in parks, smut has been left alone, relatively speaking.

When a debate on censoring porn comes up, one of the key questions is – how harmful is it?

“Porn is always on demand and watching brutal form of porn increases the viewer’s appetite for similar actions within society,” Vaswani said in his petition.

Reams of newsprint have been dedicated to the negative effects of porn – from spawning ‘porn addicts’ to destroying marriages.

But the main argument, it would seem, is against exposing people to extremely graphic porn which uses degradation, pain, sado-masochism and the like as a tool for gratification.

Vaswani also mentioned the Delhi gang rape incident to support his case. “Offenders’ minds are mostly fuelled by pornography as the sexual offender or rapist achieve his gratification not from sexual release alone but also from the thrill of domination, control and power.”

Advocates of a similar ban in Iceland agree. “When a 12-year-old types ‘porn’ into Google, he or she is not going to find photos of naked women out on a country field, but very hardcore and brutal violence,” said Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to Iceland’s interior minister.

Of course, a ban on any content on the Internet is bound to cause an uproar from India’s vocal online community, raising issues of freedom of expression and human rights.

Is it OK to curtail online freedom and the right to watch what people want? Is it even possible to ban Internet porn? There are a few million porn sites on the Internet, and blocking all of them seems like it would be impossible. And technically competent users can always turn to proxy servers and virtual private networks to get access to what they want to see.

Then there is the matter of supply and demand:

-         About 30,000 people are watching porn each second around the world.

-         Xvideos, the largest porn site on the Web, gets 4.4 billion page views per month.

-         About 30 percent of all Web traffic is porn.

Under circumstances like these, should India even try? Let us know what you think.

You can follow David on Twitter here.

11 comments

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What’s next? I guess that India is going to ban video games and TV.
I am not saying porn is good or bad. But I think we have bigger issues to deal with.

Posted by Sandheep | Report as abusive

Even smoking was once omnipresent in the society and wasn’t considered detrimental. Today’s internet pornography is like a tap that never runs dry. Unchecked pornography will create irreparable damage to the society and it will be too late by the time we realise this. I agree 100% that porn should be made difficult to access and if possible completely blocked by ISPs and the entire country.
In northern India, where the female to male ratio is low, easy access to porn leads to diabolical consequences. Hordes of unmarried and unemployed men descend in to urban areas where they can easily access porn through internet-cafes and pirated CDs. This affects their thinking to commit sexual violence against women.
This debate is long overdue and should have started a decade ago when the internet exploded.

Posted by coolgeezer | Report as abusive

Well I would say instead of banning porn you can make it into a paid site so that the younger generation can be banned from watching porn. “Pay for your fantasies should be the concept” If you try controlling too much it will defiantly have adverse effects. I don’t understand why India needs to ban online porn just because some other country has done so. Why don’t we use out creativity to resolve the concern. Porn cant be a motivation for rape. There has been rapes for a long time in our country and just that one case got highlighted all over India, does not mean the root cause is porn. There has to be a proper analysis done to see what the root cause of such things. My point of view is Porn certainly does not lead to Rape. Imbalance with Girls to Boys ratio and improper education are the root causes of rape. I feel people are being controlled for every bit of their life which is very wrong for the future.

Posted by SandeepNagaraj | Report as abusive

Of course India should ban Pornography. Every other nation should do so also since it is an unbelievable evil leaving damage and victims at all levels. These victims range from the women and men in the porn business- some slaves- some simply morally sick. Other victims include husbands and wives, victimized teenagers and those who have been raped or killed due to the enflaming of desires of porno users.
However, banning it in India will have no impact. Only those who ban it ,for themselves will have a y control. To that end there are many excellent filtering programs available. We use an excellent filter at http://www.wisechoice.net. You can also compare others at http://www.filterreview.org .

Posted by askned | Report as abusive

No Banning porn is NOT THE SOLUTION… porn is a place for sexually frustrated and deprived people to take out their frustrations…If porn is banned it will increase the chances of them taking it out on your sisters, or mothers…It would have opposite affect. The problem with India is lack of educatuon and pathetic mindset. In every country there is porn so why over their people don’t go around raping each other? Because they are educated and those who watch porn are mature enough to realize that it is a fantasy not meant to take out in reality. Plus India is a democracy and banning something to prevent people from doing something in the comfort of their homes goes AGAINST DEMOCRACY, even if you feel it is “immoral”! The police, judicial system and the government need to prevent rapes by educated and punishing rapist in a way that would set an example, like in every democracy… Banning porn is STUPID and REGRESSIVE!

Posted by chirushah86 | Report as abusive

It is well known that porn and a free society which is more open about sex and sexual passions, have less sex related crimes like rape, molestation and sexual assault. The stupid people trying to blame it on porn are brain washed idiots from an irrational era. Before Isalamic fundamentalism came to India, India was a very open society and flirting and romance was easy to both men and women. From Kama Sutra to Krishna Lila to Khajurao Temples to couples yoga, all were very acceptable in Indian tradition. What was missing was sex crime.

What India really needs to do is spread the knowledge of civics or Dharma, concept of right and wrong from early age in primary schools and at homes by parents. We should start with our politicians and judges. And make sex education compulsory from age ten for all. Suppression of sex only leads to making PERVERTS and sex crimes. Open society leads to less sex crime as well as freedom and fun. Teaching children how to deal with their passions (that will always be there), in a humane and ethical manner, that is with right and wrong always at the back of their minds, is what is needed. (Sex education)

Posted by Anamika007 | Report as abusive

Pornography As A Cause Of Child Sexual Victimization

The major objective of this chapter is to challenge the belief that exposure to child pornography is harmless and to demonstrate that exposure to child pornography can cause child sexual victimization in societies where this is proscribed. The diagram of Russell’s causal theory schematized in Figure 4.1 should help the reader to follow Russell’s theory. This model focuses primarily on female children as victims and on males as perpetrators. There are no equivalent data on females as perpetrators presumably because their proclivity to sexually abuse children is so much less prevalent than that of males.

The list on the top left of Figure 4.1 includes some of the more frequently cited causes of males’ proclivity to sexually victimize children. The following five quantitative findings of different researchers serve as summary indicators of males’ proclivity to sexually victimize children in the United States as of this writing (see the box on the lower left of the figure).

1. 10-15% of males report some likelihood of sexually abusing a child if assured that they would not be caught (N. Malamuth, personal communication, July 1986).

2. 21% of male undergraduates admitted to some sexual attraction to small children (Briere & Runtz, 1989).

3. Adult males’ sexual attraction to female adolescents is very prevalent and considered “normal“ for heterosexual males (Dietz & Sears, 1987-1988; Jenkins, 2001).

4. “Children [preadolescent girls] have some arousal value even for normal males“ (Freund, 1981, p. 137).

5. 38% of adult women disclosed being victims of child sexual abuse involving contact/ attempted contact; 54% involving non-contact (Russell, 1999).

According to Russell’s theory, exposure to child pornography causes adult males to perpetrate child sexual victimization when it predisposes them to sexually desire children, or intensifies this desire or undermines internal and external inhibitions against acting out this desire. In addition, children’s exposure to pornography can undermine their abilities to avoid, resist, or escape sexual victimization, thereby making them more vulnerable to sexual victimization. The three causal factors do not have to occur in any particular order.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

You asked: Is it OK to curtail online freedom and the right to watch what people want? Is it even possible to ban Internet porn?
One’s freedom is another’s offence. It’s relative and it is applicable to everything. If someone finds a way out to circumvent, it is always possible. Even our lawyers always find fresh loopholes to save criminals. Look at our criminal laws—in any country. Despite having all these, are we able to curb criminal acts? Yes and no. But because criminal acts keep on happening doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have criminal justice system. So, if there is a law to curb pron on the net, to some great extent it will curb these activities. But if “Internet-matured” people still want to watch it, like you said, there will be some workaround. But I must say, there should be some curbs.

Posted by kumarGG | Report as abusive

If India is banning porn websites 75 % of their business will go down , But all the pornstars need not to worry We’ve just hired SunnY leone app sab log kataar me hai……. This is called real business. If we really want to completely stop rapes lets start with alcohol and other drugs… DUM Hai “Indian Govt” toh kuch samajdaari wale kaam kar ke dikhao..Jai Hind

Posted by JOhn_1985 | Report as abusive

Does the Govt give a guarantee that no women will be subjected to any sexual assault if internet porn is banned,Was there no rapes before internet?

It is already MORAL POLICE everywhere in this country, Some idiot always want a law as to how others should behave. Now this one!!!!.

Also why not ban sex altogether?, or better still CASTRATE every male born in this country, SO there is no sex even and all women can be safe, Already the laws in this country are causing so much frustration and resentment among its citizen, I am not joking, Anyone who gets a good education or a good degree wants to leave this place anyway, It is time this nation showed some maturity and behaved like proper humans,

All these so called Knights fighting for morality are IN FACT TRYING TO POKE in the private affairs of others, They should not be encouraged, if you want to live like Human, Well if you want to be herded like cattle support them.

If we take a closer look at the world, The worst offenses against women are always taking place in the most restrictive societies where people are sexually frustrated. Only a liberal and open society can save women, Better research that before jumping into the morality crusaders bandwagon.

Posted by Anand-2003 | Report as abusive

if you hate porn, don’t watch porn.

that is that simple.

and let all “right minded” people like you know that, that is that simple.

LOL

when you point fingers at the western culture, do check social network status of your friends who made it to colleges like IIT, BIT-mesra, IIM, IISc.

you will find most of them settled in the western countries.

why ??? only because of good pay or because they find it more civilized???

think for your self….

Posted by dipakkumardas | Report as abusive