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BAN ON PORN SITES ISN’T A SOLUTION

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Courtesy Mellisa Maples

Following an order by Uttarakhand High Court, 827 porn sites were banned in India on August 1, 2015, in the response to an incident where four school students had raped a girl child in a school. The porn websites were held responsible for such incidents. This year in April, Pornhub, a porn website released data that tells a different story. According to the statistics, during the first three weeks of lockdown in India, Pornography saw a 95% spike in traffic. India has banned pornography but it is easily available and can be accessed on minor domains.

India is the most porn consuming nation. According to Pornhub which is the biggest porn site, India saw a 95% hike in pornography traffic which is highest among other top nations. The statistics were based on the consumption pattern during Covid-19 time when most nations had ordered lockdowns. India is at the top followed by France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the US. The data reveals that the motive for which 827 porn sites were banned hasn’t fulfilled. The porn websites were banned to restrict people from watching pornography content but the data reveals that ban on the sites failed to stop people to visit porn websites. According to Pornhub statistics in 2018 India has the third most porn watchers in the world.

The question which arises here is whether the decision to ban porn sites was right or wrong.  To answer this complex question, we must go through pornography in India. In India, Sex is seen as an evil thing and families avoid talking about sex in presence of children, or even couples avoid talking about it in most cases. The necessary sex education is not provided to students elsewhere whether it is the school or home. Students get sex education from their friends, seniors, and the people who are older than them. An adolescent who wants to know everything about sex sometimes get this important education through the wrong hands. An adolescent may get abused by an older person who abuses him/her in the name of sex education and the worst part is that the adolescents don’t even understand that they are getting abused. In the absence of sex education at schools and at homes these adolescents try to know more about sex and that’s how they reach porn websites.

Despite, the ban on porn websites, rapes in the country hasn’t declined but have been increasing. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Crime in India’ report 2019, a woman is raped every minute, 88 rape cases recorded every day. A total of 32,033 rape cases were reported in 2019. The rape cases in India are relatively low than other developed countries in the world because in India police station is seen as a place where reputed people don’t visit or a place where one shouldn’t go. The real statistics are more horrifying. The rape rates indicate that ban on porn failed to stop rapes.

In most of the developed countries, porn websites are legal with some restrictions such as no involvement of the children and watching porn is restricted for the children under 18. Pornography can be classified into two categories which are ‘Child pornography’ and ‘Adult pornography’. Child pornography content is banned in most of the countries where adult pornography is legal. The 827 websites were banned in 2015 because they had child pornography content.

Talking about the punishment, there are no such restrictions if someone wants to view pornography content in closed doors, anybody wants to access or view pornography content can watch or view porn. There is no punishment for that. Share, transmit, create, or upload pornography content are punishable offences. IT act says that if someone makes a child watch such pornography content may lead to punishment. The punishment may extend to 5 years and 10 lakhs of fine or if it’s a second conviction of second time of crime might be 7 years and 15 lakhs of fine.

When someone watches pornographic content it first impacts the sexuality of the viewer. They learn what is their arousal, gratification, pleasure principles which are based on sexuality. It impacts the day to day functioning of the viewer. It impacts the study of students and the work of workers. It also impacts the social relationships. The repeated consumption of the pornographic content makes the consumer to live in a virtual world of gratification. Ultimately, they may want to do such things because they regularly watch those things which give them pleasure. Their behaviour changes. The sexual images come over and over. They want to get that pleasure in real. the same pleasure they get from watching porn. Gradually if they are habitual to watch porn or addicted to watching porn, later on, they could be sexual addicts. People who watch a lot of porn run towards sex a lot and they make it their priority in life which impacts their productivity it could make them mentally ill as well.

Child pornography is accidental. When a child sees pornography at an early age when they don’t understand what is happening. They get confused about how some adults can do things they can’t.  By watching porn, they get early exposure to sexuality. They become more curious and curiosity gives them some kind of arousal, body sensation which gives them pleasure. To get pleasure, they watch porn again and again and become addicted to it. They don’t reveal this to anyone at an early age and it affects their study and day to day behaviour. They share the content with their friends and watch it together. Then they go for sexual exploration which is natural like masturbatory activities. Then they try to explore more and more in groups and at an early age, the child becomes vulnerable to get trapped by an elderly person who can do a sexual act with the child.

The banning of pornography is very difficult as we don’t know from which source it is coming. The banned websites are again available in India despite the ban. The websites tweaked their portal names and are available once again. For example, Pornhub is back as Pornhub.org and Redtube as redtube.net. One can consume porn just by turning on their VPN to foreign networks. The ban on the internet isn’t possible and unfair. That is why sex education is very important and must be taught in schools because all things are natural and biological urges. The child must be taught the right age to come into a relationship.

The countries where pornography is legal, there are restrictions such as the sites are not allowed to upload sexually violent videos and child pornography. They have some sort of code that must be followed. The ban on these sites leads people to end up in different sources that do not follow the codes and involve child sex and sexually violent videos. This is more dangerous. That is why we must allow porn for the people who watch it in private and are above 18 years of age. We must ban all kinds of porn below 18.

A photo from a New-Zealand’s advertisement

 

The New-Zealand government recently made a unique advertisement in which two ‘porn stars’ can be seen naked, knocks on a door and a woman comes out and they tell her that her kid is having sex education by watching porn and the mother of the kid then decide to have a frank conversation with her son about porn. Advertisement is designed to protect children from pornography and also aims to encourage parents to talk about sex and consent. The advertisement had gone viral and tells that Sex education is necessary but if it’s through pornography than that’s not a good thing. In India, we can’t imagine cast porn stars as naked in such programmes but we can make an advertising campaign to provide such education.

Netflix logo is seen displayed on TV screen in this illustration photo taken in Poland on July 16, 2020. On-Demand streaming services gained popularity and new subscribers during the coronavirus pandemic.
(Photo Illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Ban of pornography isn’t a solution. The content on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, MX player, Bollywood movies, and other similar platforms impact the people much more than porn websites. One can’t watch any latest shows on Netflix with family members. They present soft porn to the consumers. The majority of the people admit that their first exposure to porn was accidental, they didn’t want to watch porn but as soon as they opened some pirated sites the porn content popped up, and out of the curiosity, they started to watch porn. Awareness and education are the one way but beyond that, the government has to focus on technology means to stop accidental exposure of porn.

Sex education must be openly discussed by parents and teachers at home and school. Strict programmes about sex education must be implemented. There has to be strict actions against child pornography. There has to be proper guidelines for telecom providers to not let the pornography be presented to the people under 18 years of age. YouTube doesn’t let us see such content for younger people below 18. Just like YouTube, the telecom providers are the ones who must take preventive measures and are responsible if the content is getting presented to the people under 18.

Parents and teachers must take responsibility for the children and instead of poking them or secretly spying, they must observe them and must learn how to deal with the children in such a modern world of Information Technology. Children must spend their time more outdoors because pornography is not just an addiction that impacts the psychology of a child but also it disables him to go outdoor and do physical works.

Awareness programmes for the children as well as parents and teachers must be run to teach them how to use information technology and how to avoid accidental exposures. Instagram, Facebook, and other social networking sites must be monitored because more than porn sites people get exposure to pornographic on social networking sites.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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