By Srishti Chauhan:
In June 2009 India’s first sex toon ‘Savita Bhabhi’ was banned after creating a huge furor among the populace for disseminating immoral values to the citizens of the country. A country known for possessing strict moral values cannot possibly have a porn star to its credit- even if it is a cartoon. Isn’t it? In the history of independent India, spreading over more than 6 decades, this was probably the first and much publicized ban that was ever imposed. Never before had a ban been imposed on any site that carried and distributed Indian pornographic material.
This raises several pertinent questions. Pornography has been described as an individual in his blog as, “A systematic practice of exploitation and subordination based on sex that differentially harms and disadvantages women through dehumanization. Pornography diminishes the worth and civil status of women and damages mutual respect between the sexes.”
On personal opinions, the state has no say. However, can this definition of pornography be extended to all parts of the world and possibly be universal in its acceptance? Probably, not. In United States of America (USA), pornography is a colossal industry. There are people (yes, including women) who willingly enter this high paying industry. Thus, certainly, this definition can hardly have a worldwide recognition.
As per law, search engines in India are required to filter pornographic content. Many analysts, although, are of the opinion that the opportunity for circumvention is so great, and government interest in prosecution so low, that the country is better off doing away with the laws.
When a search engine is programmed to not allow the opening of certain sites, it simply shows a message that says, “This page cannot be opened as your country or region has a strict search setting which filters out results that might return adult content.” However a Net-savvy user has only to change the country on the menu at the right hand corner of the screen to other countries where pornography is legal and he has access to unfiltered pornographic content.
The question that arises here is whether such strict laws regarding pornography are essential or not. Should the government decide what is good for the individuals?
Pornography, as an industry is gigantic in the country. Legalizing it would probably make government aware of all the black money and tax evasion practices that are abundant in such underground industries. Being closely linked to prostitution, pornography would help keep a check on illegal prostitution in various parts of the country. Making distribution of porn legal would only bring to the front what has always existed behind the backs. Local markets like Palika Bazaar in New Delhi are knows for selling sex toys- the sale of which incidentally, is not allowed in the country. The open flouting of these rules undoubtedly makes them words written on paper and never implement.
On the other hand, legalizing porn will have a disparaging effect on society. Not many people will be comfortable with the idea of a separate section catering to interested crowds in a store selling CDs and DVDs. Moreover, legalizing porn may have a negative externality of increasing the number of women who are illegally trafficked from the neighboring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh in the name of provision of roles in Indian film industry.
A very major impact that such legalization would have is that people would be more inclined to film private video tapes and post them on sites where they get paid for every time the clip is viewed. This would make cyber crime profuse adding an unnecessary burden on the already over-burdened judicial system of India. Moreover, the incidents of child trafficking and molestation are definitely set to rise if such a move is supported.
It is not unsure that to one person legalizing pornography would seem like a natural step in evolution with the times, while to another person it would seem like blind imitation of the West without realizing the immense lasting negative impact that such a move would have.
With the apparent inadequacy of the cyber crime laws in India, will it be wise for the government to even contemplate legalizing pornography? And if not, then should we let the industry thrive, ignoring it, while it grows in the dark each night engulfing more and more in its vicious nexus? A solution must be sought. What are your views?