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Internet Porn

In India, pornography has been around for many decades in various formats (magazine, VHS, CD) but accessing it was not easy for consumers and selling them was illegal. Despite these difficulties in accessing, porn was still highly consumed. It is this access that has increased tremendously in the recent times through the “cyber” world. Cyber porn is not only readily accessible but also affordable (i.e much of the cyber content could be watched for free) and a viewer could stay totally anonymous. If you look from a big picture, now-a-days we use internet for ordering food, shopping and pay bills meaning internet has become part of everyday life. So, it is not a surprise that a lot of people use cyber porn for sexual pleasure, to relieve sexual urges or even to learn about sex. While it is partly true that cyber porn is having an impact on today’s sex culture, it is not just pornography that has to be blamed. Eroticism and skin showing in Indian movies, advertisements and other mass media has increased. What impact does this have on today’s sex culture? There are so many social factors that impacts on today’s youth sexual development and a much pragmatic approach is needed than just being highly value judgmental of cyber pornography.

As mentioned in the petition, any pornography has the potential to impact on a person’s sexuality and sexual development irrespective of whether it is watched on a CD or through Internet. On the other hand, selected pornography tends to play a vital role in educating people about sex and intimacy especially in societies in which sex is not freely discussed. The petition claims cyber porn to be the cause for sexually transmissible infection probably because many porn movies portray sex without condoms and that porn viewers could practice the same when they have sex for real. To the contrary, many cyber porn viewers claim that it ( porn) helps them relieve their sexual urges through masturbation and that it is a safer and cheaper option to view porn than seeking paid sex or engage in casual sex that could have emotional costs attached.

The three As (accessibility, affordability and anonymity) of cyber porn has the highest potential to affect an individual’s sexual life. In a country like India where sex education is not available, young people tend to believe what is shown in pornography to be real which then leads to irrational beliefs and unrealistic sexual expectations for their self and/ or of their partner(s).  When  a person watches porn he/she does not just watch it as  we do with movies. As sex is associated with strong emotions and pleasure, repeated exposure to pornographic materials make a person to absorb a lot of things and over a period of time a new ‘sexual script’ is written in that person’s mind.  As long as the person is sexually educated and matured enough to understand that porn is a world of fantasy and he/she could not expect or do in real world as what is shown in porn , then cyber porn would not be of a major problem. So, the key issue is whether young Indian cyber viewers are sexually educated and matured enough. To-date, there is scarcity of research data about cyber porn usage and the demographic profile of cyber porn users in India.

Sexual exploitation has been happening in India for many decades and dates well before the introduction of even computers. Recent hike in incidence does not necessarily mean there are more crimes happening now but it could be that it is more often reported and people are lot more aware of such incidents through social network and various cyber platforms. Claiming that cyber porn is the cause for increased sexual crimes needs scientific validation through proper research. Also, there are number of factors that could strengthen or weaken the link between cyber porn and sexual exploitation especially sex education. While addressing the negative impacts of cyber porn it is equally important to address the issue of sex education which could equip the future generation with the right knowledge and make them sexually responsible not just with watching cyber porn but across all sexual behaviours.

Merely cutting access to cyber porn does not necessarily help the future generation of India. Educating the youth of India about sex through parents and schools is definitely a way forward to combat negative impacts of today’s cyber pornography and something else tomorrow. Many people who view pornography on the Internet or through other sources don’t necessarily see it as a problem especially those who are sexually educated and watch it responsibly. On the other extreme, there are cyber porn viewers who are highly dependant/ addicted to cyber porn and actually try to live the fantasy world in real and get involved in punishable crime.  But there is yet another group of people who don’t perceive porn as a problem until they have to perform sex with a real person. With cyber porn, viewers have 100% control over what they want and there is no need for intimacy or communication with a computer. But, when having sex with a real person it is totally different and it is when many people find it difficult because their sexual script mismatches with the reality. This group of people should come out and seek professional help and now-a-days such help could be accessed through Internet. There is no quick fixes to cyber dependant sexual behaviours but certainly there a certain proven techniques and interventions. Acknowledging that it ( cyber porn use) is a problem is the first step in changing that problematic behaviour.