The P**n Ban: The Endless Seasons of Moral Policing

Can I even use that evil word – P**n- or will the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), entrusted with the responsibility to ban porn, will come after me as well for writing about it? From the BBC documentary on the interview of one of culprits of the December 16 rape case to beef and Maggi, banning seems to be the official by-line of the Indian government nowadays.

I will give you some food for thought! Now that Pakistan’s terror attacks have become a mundane phenomenon so the government has decided to mull over more relevant issues, with porn occupying the top priority in its list! After all, porn is threatening the Sovereignty, Integrity, and Security of the Indian state- just like Section 19(2)** of the Constitution suggests! Now that the government is bored of repeatedly modifying the education system in Delhi University, with all 3 batches following different systems, one can surely understand the government’s need to add some flavour to its work!

Let me now give you an economic perspective. What happens in cases where excess demand for a commodity exists and it is treated nearly equivalent to a necessity? There are always consumers who are willing to pay an exorbitant price for this commodity. The magic word that I am hinting at- Black marketing. Something similar happened over the few days when the customers were unable to access the adult websites during the August weekend when the ban was effective. Prices of CDs and DVDs with pornographic content sky rocketed from Rs. 100 to Rs. 300 in Palika Bazaar, Delhi. This testifies to the fact that placing an interdict on pornographic websites leaves the demand unaffected.

Some argue that quantification for such an industry is not possible. You want quantification, here it is. According to a study conducted by Covenant Eyes, the porn industry in the States generated around $12.62 and $13.33 billion in revenues in 2005 and 2006 respectively. This encompassed video sales and rentals, internet, cable, pay-per-view, in-room, mobile, phone sex, exotic dance clubs, novelties, and magazines. These figures are a feeble attempt to give you a vague estimate of this industry’s worth, now, in 2015!

So another argument, in the Indian context, could be legalising porn and catering to the needs of the viewers. Legalising this profession would kill two birds with one stone. It would take care of the health aspect by making it mandatory to use condoms during the shoot so as to tackle the problem of AIDS and restore the dignity of adult stars.

Hindi cinema, being the largest in the world, has immense potential to accommodate and promote the adult industry. If there wasn’t a ban on the Rex video where a Bollywood star was artistically advertising the use of condoms, then why porn! Moreover, there are people who willingly take up this profession, for instance, Mia Khalifa, the number one porn star on the website Pornhub. The blanket ban on 857 websites severely affects professionals who have made an informed decision to take this up as their career.What the government needs to focus on, is to keep a check on trafficking, so as to essentially restrict only those people who are forced into this profession.

Remember the ‘‘Kiss of Love campaign’’? Recall how it originated in Kerala with over a lakh Facebook Likes on a page dedicated to activists against the moral policing on the ‘‘Kiss of Love’’. What started as a non- violent form of protest at the Marine Drive in Kochi on November 2, 2014, received immense support throughout the country from students of reputed colleges of JNU, DU, Jamia Milia and Ambedkar University. The public defied the authorities by performing ‘obscene’ acts of kissing in open. Is it so hard to reckon that something similar could have happened with the protesters (had the ban continued a little longer) in favour of porn industry! Would the government have preferred the youth taking to India’s streets physically depicting support for the porn industry! I refuse to believe, even for a second, that the authorities could not anticipate such consequences as public demonstrations at Jantar Mantar, after passing such laws. Why is it that the government cannot respect the personal rights of the netizens? Why does the government have to take a moral high ground despite its own MLAs watching the same pornographic videos during State Assembly proceedings! Yes, I am bringing up the Karnataka case! Guess what could be the government’s next step for an ‘immoral’ state like Karnataka? Let’s just impose an Emergency in that state- after all the ‘indecent’ acts in Karnataka are a matter of immediate national concern- threatening the integrity of Mother India!

The government is extremely naïve to presume that there is a dearth of unethical ways to get past the blocked URLs. Gone are the days when it was a rocket science to circumvent the access to blocked websites. On behalf of the layman, not trained in computer science, even I am aware of the fact that there are ways to change the IP address of a computer. This way the nationality can be changed to another country where access to porn is not restricted. The very same mechanism can be used to operate Netflix as well.

Banning is not the solution (if at all, porn was a problem) to discourage pornographic content available online! First of all, it should not be anybody’s business to keep a watch on whether people access pornographic videos or not. Secondly, in order to curb child porn (which was the government’s claimed motive) there is a need for a very agile police force backed by the relevant authorities, to keep an eye on human trafficking, in case people are forced to act in these videos. It seems very obvious that the government behaved like a tube light in realising that banning porn might trigger public outrage, so a safer option would be to curtail access to child porn only. But is imposing a ban on child porn sufficient to end the misery of those forcibly involved in the trade? Thirdly, if the government plans to use the ban on porn as an excuse to minimise rape and molestation cases, here is an eye opener- making sex education mandatory would serve as a more effective instrument!

Porn ban

The right wing takes immense pride in retaining the age old customs and traditions of Bharat Mata. So let’s discuss something that has its roots in the Indian history. All the Naughty Readers must have heard of Kamasutra– an ancient Hindu text that comes under the genre of erotic literature written originally in Sanskrit by Vatsyayana. A few moments of silence for its birth place- India! Seems quite derogatory for the Pure Bharat Mata! A convenient solution would be to erase that from India’s history as well, right?

Adding another dimension to the ongoing arguments, it is time to acquaint you all with some theories revolving around the existence of erotic sculptures in Indian temples. Yes, there are temples showcasing male- female mating postures. A simple Google search would suffice to show you images of Khujaraho temples (Madhya Pradesh), Sun Temples (Konark) and Jagdish Mandir (Udaipur). It is popularly believed that there is an innate need to realise your desire for lust and sexual pleasure before you enter a place of worship, in order to exercise control over such feelings. Sculptures, depicting different positions of intercourse, adorn the outer walls of temples so that the disciples can rid themselves of all such thoughts and purify their soul. So if people have learnt to deal with such erotic imagery at a holy place of worship then why can’t the government live and let live!

It is an established fact that the ban has been withdrawn, but the idea behind this write-up is just to highlight how the government chooses to tackle sensitive issues. Banning may seem like a convenient solution in the short run, but what about the bigger picture? Where are those promises of development and progress that echoed incessantly on TV and radio during the elections? Or did they forget to mention, Conditions apply: Development, by all means, would be restricted to GDP figures.

**According to Times of India, Section 19 (2) of the Indian Constitution was used for the ban. This Section allows the government to impose “reasonable restrictions in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court.”

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