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Obscenity and Honey Singh: Better to ban or self regulate?

The Delhi gangrape incident has drawn attention to a misogynist culture that is present in the films, music and advertising industry and there are many who argue that crimes against women cannot be separated from the sexually violent content that is often presented in the media, often portraying women as commodities.

"There has to be a difference between portraying the sensuality of a woman and commodifying women. Some of the recent item numbers in Hindi films have crossed the boundaries of obscenity and lewdness," Shabana Azmi, film actress and social activist, told CNN-IBN.

The sexual violence in songs of the likes of Honey Singh is also promoting misogyny in society where women are already victimised. AFP

Film director Sudhir Mishra agreed with her but said that he was uncomfortable with banning such content - be it Punjabi rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh or Bollywood item numbers.

"One man's brave film is another man's pornography. Within the industry we should discuss this," he said.

Instead of banning objectionable content, he said that people should initiate a discussion and a counter campaign.

"I would write, think and talk to people who are the consumers of such products," he added.

But then who will draw the line between obscene content and sensual imagery given that the agenda might be hijacked by the moral police of the country?

According to advertising professional Suhel Seth, the responsibility of screening such content lies with both the producers and the consumers as both groups were complicit in the process.

"There has to be some level of self regulation. There are laws in place and if it is illegal then take action," he said.

According to him, there is a need to shame people who are buying into this culture. He said, "You have to ensure that people who visit these places will feel bad. Hotels (like the ones who host Honey Singh's performance) will also fear the same because their image will be lost."