Rethinking pornography: Cyber Sexy author Richa Kaul Padte makes the case for decriminalising porn in India

The deeply polarising subject of porn is just one of the several aspects of internet sex covered by author Richa Kaul Padte in her book Cyber Sexy: Rethinking Pornography; the others point at the multiplicity of erotic content found online, and the expression people of all sexualities and genders are finding through it.

The online world has in many ways revolutionised Indians' access to sex and sexy content, creating private spaces for people to interact with each other, upload their own pictures, or create fantasies, or read and watch those created by others.

India is the third largest consumer of porn in the world after the US and UK. Porn Hub statistics for 2017 and 2016 show that the most searched term by Indians on porn websites was “indian”. Padte says this is a clear indication that there is a big demand for “desi porn” but at the moment India is known more for the most dubious sort of porn that exists online — hidden camera footage from changing rooms, hotel rooms, rape videos (aka local videos, WhatsApp videos), or what is termed ‘revenge porn’ where a woman’s partner releases pictures or videos without her consent.

The laws pertaining to online pornography are not entirely clear but under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, publishing or transmitting pornography via instant messaging, emails or any other mode of digital transmission is an offence. Watching or saving such content isn’t, with the exception of child pornography.

While Cyber Sexy covers a wide range of the sort of content available online, the book was inspired by debates over banning pornography in 2013. Many of those in favour of a porn ban argued that it was for the safety of women and children, a sentiment many disagreed with. Padte says she found this argument very unsettling and hoped an Indian woman would write a book countering these claims — and when no one wrote that book, she decided to take on the subject herself.

She says “digital technology has not created new systems of control over women’s bodies but it has provided new platforms for the same hierarchies to operate, so what is now a rape video, before was only rape, but the fact of the rape remains right?” She also adds how we can never really be sure that what we are watching is ethical porn, because that requires an“overhaul of how society operates and the way in which consent is experienced and understood across the board, whether it's online or offline”.

In the video Padte talks about why it may be a good idea to decriminalise porn in India. She says the videos coming out of India at the moment are arguably non-consensual,  and that there is scope for us to “make the best of what porn has to offer, and not the absolute worst”.

Also read — Pornhub Insights reveal just what Indian men and women are searching for online


Updated Date: Jul 30, 2018 15:34 PM

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