Indian Supreme Court considering online porn ban

Kaesh Vaswani.
Lawyer, Kaesh Vaswani — petitioning for online pornography ban in India.

By Thaddeus Baklinski — Originally published in Lifesite News

Responding to a groundswell of public opinion, the Supreme Court of India has asked the government to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition that seeks to ban online pornography.

The petition comes in the wake of a brutal gang-rape of a five-year-old girl in the city of Delhi and the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a city bus.

The two suspects arrested for raping the 5-year-old reportedly said they watched porn on a mobile phone and drank heavily hours before they abducted and tortured the little girl.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued notices to the ministries of Communications and Information Technology, Information and Broadcasting, and Home Affairs, and to the Internet Service Providers Association of India, asking them to consider legislation to ban online porn and block porn sites on the Internet.

Lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani, who called online pornography “cultural pollution,” brought the PIL forward in response to public outrage over the rape, torture, and attempted murder on the five-year-old girl.

“The sexual content that kids are accessing today is far more graphic, violent, brutal, deviant and destructive and has put entire society in danger so also safety threats to public order in India,” the petition states.

Crimes ‘fuelled by pornography’
“The petitioner most respectfully submits that most of the offenses committed against women/girls/children are fuelled by pornography. The worrying issue is the severity and gravity of the images is increasing. It is a matter of serious concern that prepubescent children are being raped,” Vaswani submitted.

“Offenders’ minds are mostly fueled by pornography as the sexual offender or rapist achieves his gratification not from sexual release alone but also from the thrill of domination, control, and power,” the petition states in reference to the December 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.

A large number of lawyers supported Vaswani’s petition, the Times of India reported. One of them, Vijay Panjwani saying current legislation, the Information and Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code, was ineffective in dealing with “the potentially explosive situation created by free availability of pornography, including child pornography.”

Under current law the production and distribution of obscene material is an offense under the Penal Code, and section 67, 67A of the IT Act stipulates three years imprisonment for circulating obscene material electronically.

Although these laws have curtailed the availability of pornographic magazines, there is no law that effectively limits the viewing of porn on the internet.

“The absence of internet laws encourages watching porn videos, since it is not an offense,” Vaswani’s petition stated “This has led to a situation where more than 20 crore (200 million) porn videos/porn clippings are available in the Indian market, which have been downloaded from the internet.”

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

Vaswani’s petition concludes by demanding a national policy, including a separate law to counter the proliferation of pornography on the internet.

“Porn is always on demand and watching brutal forms of porn increases the viewer’s appetite for similar actions within society,” said Vaswani. “Pornographic literature seeks to confirm that people are objects who can be sold and bought in the market. It treats sex as a commodity and exploits it commercially. When exploitation of sex is accepted in society, then all characteristics attributable to commercial exploitation also become acceptable which is to maximize profit.”

Leading women’s rights activists in India are supporting the blocking of pornography sites, according to a Voice of America report.

‘Porn creates an abnormal understanding of sexuality’
Ranjana Kumari, the head of the Center for Social Research in New Delhi praised Vaswani’s initiative, saying porn creates an abnormal understanding of sexuality.

Pornography “really creates all kinds of abnormalities in terms of understanding of sex,” said Kumari. “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.”

Reports from around the world confirm that every culture where pornography flourishes has seen a dramatic rise in violent sexual crime.

A UK-based child welfare charity found that 4,562 minors – 98 percent of them boys – committed 5,028 sexual offenses over a three-year period, from 2009-2012.

“We know that technology and easy access to sexual material is warping young people’s views of what is ‘normal’ or acceptable behavior,” said Claire Lilley, policy adviser at The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

In the Australian state of Victoria, 414 minors were referred for sexual offenses to the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) last year.

These “miserable consequences” – sexually abusive behavior among children as young as five – are “exploding” according to Carolyn Worth, statewide convener of Victoria’s CASA, who said that referrals for children exhibiting sexually abusive behavior are much greater than the resources available to help them.

Worth explained that some referrals to the CASA problem sexual behavior programs were of such a serious nature that children were refused participation, because the behavior was criminal.

In similar reports, a 13-year-old Canadian boy said his homosexual porn consumption led to his repeated rape of a four-year-old boy who lived in his foster home, while child therapist John Woods of London reported a case of a 13-year-old boy who raped his five-year-old sister after developing a “complex fantasy world” warped by “two years of constant porn use.”

Some countries, including China, South Korea, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Guyana, have legislation banning internet pornography. A similar porn ban initiative is being proposed in Iceland.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister, is drafting legislation to stop the access of online pornographic images and videos by young people through computers, games consoles, and smartphones. He is looking at methods that would include making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards for porn and filtering out pornographic IP addresses.

“We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,” Jonasson said.

Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to Jonasson, said, “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,” pointing out that “This material is blurring the boundaries for young people about what is right and wrong.”

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