Porn Ban : Safety vs Liberty

India has a love hate relationship with matters related to sex. On one side we boast about Kamasutra, worlds original manual for sexual activity, we take pride when erotic sculptures of Khajuraho are recognised as world heritage site, but we do not like to discuss matters related to sex openly at home. May be things are changing now in middle class homes, but things are still very different in small towns and villages in the hinterlands of India. A few years back, during a visit to Gujarat, tour guide asked my wife and daughters to move away because he was not comfortable discussing lovemaking of shiva and parvati. 

Internet boom and availability of smart phones have made pornographic materials at our finger tips. As a result internet may be a source of education for young boys and girls about matters related to sex. A matter they cannot discuss with their family elders still. As a result when government of India decided to ban 857 internet sites from where pornographic materials can be accessed. A hugh protest and ridicule in television and news papers made the government  backtrack. As of today ban exists only on sites offering materials related to child pornography

In this context, I came across an article where Shivam Viz wrote how auto rickshaw drivers, in their spare time, surf the internet for free porn using their mobile phones. Consider the following cases:

1. Nirbhaya was raped, disembowelled and left to die by roadside by four men and a juvenile. These men were drunk when they committed the crime. At least two of them spent time watching pornograpic material once they reached home after committing the crime.

2. Recently, driver of an App based cab company, raped and threatened a female passenger.

3. Another Uber cab driver tried to kiss a female passenger.

4. There is report that driver of another cab company masterbated while ferrying a lady passenger.

5. In another case, two youth had inserted bottle and candle in the private part of a five year old girl in Delhi. The girl was kept hostage for two days without food and water. Youths left for their village, locking the door behind them, leaving the girl to die.

6. In another instance two MLAs in Karnataka assembly were found watching porn in their mobile phones. Incidentally, both the MLAs belong the BJP.

Erudite people will argue that there is no relation between sexual assault and watching porn. Although human psyche is very complex and dynamic in nature. An external visual stimulus can raise the threshold of a human being to certain act. 

It is also put forward that government cannot interfere with adult men and women watching porn in the privacy of their homes. Many have considered the ban on pornographic sites is interference with liberties of citizens. It should be understood that for when we talk of freedom to watch porn we assume that all of us Indians are at same levels of education and value. In a diverse country like India, there is a lot of dissimilarity in education, economic background, and social status between adult professionals in their bed room vis a vis a auto driver  passing time watching porn in his free time. It is also important to understand that unlike law and order machinery in developed democracies with freedom of information, in India our law and order mechanism is creeky at the best of times. Can we really put fifty percent of our citizen to risk that emanate from free pornographic material?

 It is important to have freedom. With freedom, however, comes responsibility. As a society we need to decide are we Indians responsible enough to enjoy free porn? When our elected representatives have no qualms about watching porn sitting in the assembly, what can we expect from common citizens?  Is our right to access to free porn more important than safety of women travelling alone? Banning anything is bad and may not offer any solution. We need to decide which one is worse – inability to access porn or safety of women.

Why not make customers pay for watching porn? It is a fact that a lot of revenue for mobile companies is generated when internet porn sites are visited. As a result, accessing porn sites will remain free in all likelihood. Why not make people pay to watch porn rather than banning the sites. That approach may be more effective.
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