I wish I didn’t have to write this post, as this post starts just where all fairy tales end or die. I am from India and every morning reading newspaper is shocking and too disturbing, because somewhere in the country at least a child is getting raped. Rape was not an easily uttered word by a regular Indian, but in December 2012 a brutal gang rape of a student in Delhi broke that inhibition overnight. Recently it seems like an epidemic. I must mention, this is the India so severely dangerous since around 2010 and more specifically after the spread of smartphones in India. So what might be the connection between them? If we have not forgotten, in 2013 Indian lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani (and the only person so far) filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court to ban all porn websites in India, as he believes that the ever-increasing sexual crimes on children and women are happening due to easy access to online pornographic contents. But he received least support from the public and eventually government had to revoke the ban on 800 websites, they did in response to his appeal. The case is still pending and Vaswani’s claim is becoming relevant day by day. I want to salute this guy for raising this step just. While many are viewing his case as a threat to open internet, eventually this case will lead to many discussions on how open and uncensored contents of internet can threaten a country’s culture and its most vulnerable population including children and younger ones.
Censorship is a huge issue before releasing films publicly in India to protect communal and religious harmony mainly. Films with sexual content are marked before release to ensure the viewership above 18 years of age. Ironically viewing pornography except child pornography is legal in India like many other countries. And online pornography with explicit and violent sexual contents are mostly open and accessible to all. This reflects our penny wise and pound foolish practice regarding censorship. However, any kind of film or visual stuff could have the same effect on the viewer. One can get an idea about ‘pornography and censorship’ at Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy revised till 2012. The young generation is the major user of internet these days and bound to visit these sites at some point of their internet surfing. Pornography before and after internet has heaven and hell difference. The content of this sites are poorly regulated and I don’t know if there is any regulation at all. But it has become a huge industry worldwide. However, the social effect of pornographic contents is least discussed because of inhibition, ignorance and indifference I assume. After every horrendous crime people from all walks of life are expressing their concern to punish the culprits without delay.
Today Government of India has approved to give death penalty for raping children below 12 years of age, in response to the huge public demand asking for justice and strict law and order to stop these unbelievable crimes. But we know this is a major step but is not enough at all. Finding the root of this sudden outbreak of sexual offenses is equally important. We will not believe India changed overnight without any reason. Yes, strict prosecution will maintain some control, but punishment alone can’t cure this social problem. The points raised by Vaswani in 2013 has been viewed by many as naive and frivolous but at least he spoke up, standing at shameful 2018 nobody has still started to discuss this serious concern even. I don’t know why we are still silent when hellish contents of virtual world are affecting children and women of real world. This is just as important and urgent as is protecting our environment. We feel great and powerful in presence of almighty internet. But just as they say with great powers come great responsibility, if we don’t use this power carefully, don’t maintain any regulation, we could lose our capital, our culture and people.
I want to end this post with a question that why in a civilized world, the making and sharing of obscene contents, derogatory to men and women will be allowed in the name of pornography. I know there is no straight answer to this but there is always scope for candid conversations. I have started the same with my friends and family who are equally disturbed but don’t know what to do actually. Please get rid off all inhibitions and speak up! We have a lot of discussions pending.