Is there really a connection between watching pornography and the tendency to commit sexual crimes?

SC Women Lawyers Association wants Rs 100 levy on porn especially for auto-drivers
news Porn ban Tuesday, August 02, 2016 - 17:28

Recently, the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) moved the Supreme Court asking for a blanket ban on some porn sites. The SCLWA justified the demand on the grounds that pornography corrupts young minds and encourages crimes against women and children.

But here's what's caught the attention of many and is being severely criticized - they want the government to charge a levy of Rs. 100 for users, because "people like auto-drivers and people belonging to similar strata of the society will have restricted access to online pornography. Also, it can be a great revenue generating model for the government."

This has not gone down too well with others.

Ajitha, a lawyer and women’s rights activist, says that the ban seems highly improbable given the nature of the internet and the government’s limited capacity. “You can’t possibly have a censor or levy on all porn sites. The way these go, they spring up in hundreds,” she says. 

The PIL was originally filed by Indore-based lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani in 2013, which caused the court to briefly ban about 850 porn websites last year. SCWLA has now become a party to the petition and seeks reimpose the ban.

Further, is there really a connection between watching pornography and the tendency to commit sexual crimes?

We’ll never know, says Donna Fernandes, Secretary of Bengaluru-based Vimochana Forum for Women’s Rights. “Have they asked sexual offenders if they were habitual in watching porn or had committed the crime after watching it? There has to be an empirical basis backing,” she said, emphasizing the need to move beyond knee-jerk reactions.

TNM contacted Prerna Kumari, SCWLA secretary to enquire about the rationale behind the connection. However, she refused to comment saying the matter is sub judice and their organization has been advised against speaking to the media. A member of the organization also told TNM that the matter was not supposed to be leaked to the media in the first place.

Donna argues that the targeting of certain sections of men specifically is also classist and rests on the assumption that only lower socio-economic classes watch porn and are likely to commit crimes.

However, Prerna Kumari told Bar and Bench that she wasn’t pointing fingers at a particular section of the society but wanted to address how easily porn can be accessed by anyone.

Ajitha says that while pornography may be behind an increased incidence of viewing women as objects of subjugation, it is dangerous to make a generalization. “It is another form of consumerism. But what if someone watching porn is not a threat to the society and has a completely healthy family life? What authority does the court or government have to impose this moralistic stand on them?” she questions.

Renuka, Executive Director at Center for Women’s Development and Research says that there needs to be a mechanism for regulation instead. Donna agrees and suggests that the government should instead work to restrict access where needed. “Blanket bans never work. The philosophy is faulty. They should instead regulate access to vulnerable age groups like children,” she says.

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.