Friday, April 2, 2010

Pornography in the Indian Context

The motive of this paper is to examine the feasibility of the pornographic industry as a legal entity in the Indian context by taking into consideration a proportionate mix of morality and existing state of affairs. In doing so, I intend to analyze the moral position taken by the government on pornography with special reference to The Savita Bhabhi case.

Pornography as a product

The pornographic industry has settled down in most countries where internet based porn services are no more illegal. They have taken steps to ensure that the system is made use by those who are eligible to do so. They have set up separate servers for adult content, have special libraries which issue porn content to the eligible masses, licenses are issued – in short, a system is in place. The problem lies in the Indian context.
The apprehensions that I will deal with in this paper do not arise out of the idea of the so called “Indian culture”. The conservative argument terming pornography as something that is not in alignment with Indian ethos arises out of a discomfort with the physical language of love. We must understand that sexuality is not something to be ashamed or afraid of, discovering sexuality is a part of discovering oneself. Hence, this will not be any further debated in this paper.

As a part of the literary community the liberal argument is paramount to me – a well informed choice made by an eligible adult to consume pornography as a commodity must be respected. As it is, porn is readily available on the internet so it would be better if a system be set up in India too that will render recognition to pornography in India. In doing so we will save a number of youngsters who are many a times exposed to explicit material at a tender age.
In the opinion of Psychiatrist Dr. Harish Shetty, “Pornography does affect children because they get influenced and indulge in things that they are not supposed to at a tender age. They often tend to get false information and ideas, and at times they might get addicted to these sites.”
The problem in the Indian Context

The core problem with legalization of pornography in India is the generation of human resource for the industry. Before the consumption of the good – porn in this case, one has to make sure that the mode of production is safeguarded. As has been seen the pornography industry has long standing roots into human trafficking, child abuse and harassment.
Case Study: “Savita Bhabhi - The sexual adventures of a Hot Indian Bhabhi”
Savita Bhabhi - The sexual adventures of a Hot Indian Bhabhi is India's first cartoon porn website, featuring explicit depictions of the sexual adventures of a housewife named Savita. The porn site has become a face of freedom and a face of India's liberals.
In India, right to pornography is not recognized and pornography is illegal. The site and its developer came under fierce criticism recently. The Hindustan Times said in one of its headlines – “Savita Bhabhi tests India’s patience for porn”.

The site was being again and again censored by the Indian government until June 2009 when it was finally banned. Initially the creator of the site had chosen to remain anonymous, going under the assumed collective name Indian Porn Empire. However in July 2009, Puneet Agarwal, the creator of the site revealed his identity after a collective movement was launched to lift the ban.
Morally, the site has found favour with India’s liberals because of two reasons:
They believe that Sexuality need not be a matter of fear or taboo in our society. It is to be accepted and accepting healthy porn is a step in that direction. They believe that the ban shows the government’s bowing down to conservatives who have drawn this consciousness of the so called “Indian tradition”. The Indian tradition however (the liberal stand) has always had a special place for sexuality - Kamasutra and the Khajurao Temples are evidences of that.
Savita Bhabhi specifically has been looked upon as being representative of the sexual emancipation of women. Since long women’s sexuality and desires have been looked upon as evil. Men have on the other hand found overt sexuality a necessary advantage. A certain James Bond goes around having sex with numerous ladies and is glorified by the world. The secrecy with which female sexuality is dealt with has promoted myths such as terming woman with overt sexuality as witches.
c) In being a cartoon porn site, this itself eradicates the link with all human resources. No human investment.

These moral stands are further confirmed by other practical aspects.

The site is ranked 85th most visited in India. It received more traffic in a day than the Bombay Stock Exchange. This certainly proves that the site serves an audience and there are takers for it.
As it is there are many sites that contain pornographic material. This pornographic material unlike Savita is objectionable and gender insensitive. The government’s act of banning the site seems is hypocrisy.
Relevant Problems in the Savita Issue
It would be unfair to say that all is right about pornography or the Savita Bhabhi website. It has found critics and rightly so in many ways.
The conservatives especially have a problem with the use of the terminology “Bhabhi” or Sister in law in the material. Its use is debatable. On looking at it in the way the conservatives do – the reference can indicate a mistreatment of the female gender and especially to woman as a homemaker.

On the other hand creator Puneet Aggarwal believes that the term was essential. Savita Bhabhi is not porn made up by illogical nudity. It is an idea and has a plot. Savita is representative of the liberated Indian woman in quest for happiness and sexual satisfaction. As a result of a failed sexual relationship with her husband she turns to her brother in law. Hence the term becomes essential to give meaning to the whole idea.
The solution for this specific issue

Savita after all is not just another porn website, it has in many ways a moral fibre to it. The Indian Government can censor this site with discretion but to ban it when every other site on the internet is much more explicit and objectionable is unfair. The cyber laws must be strengthened and appropriate amendments made to block or separate all these sites.
My Solution based on a proportionate mix of Morality and Observation
In words unadulterated, the two hurdles that need to be crossed before legalization of pornography in India are:
There needs to be a cleansing of the system. A total dismantling of the network that exists and creates human resource for the industry. This network include the sixty thousand beggars of Delhi and numerous thousand children kept in corrupt orphanages.

A definition needs to be arrived for morally correct pornography. A censorship be constituted that will keep a check on the content of these sites. Separate servers for adult content be formed. If need be, porn be rather made available in public libraries and licenses issued.

- Arpit Kumar
B.A. (Hons.) English; I Yr.


AP said...

Perhaps the solutions in the end could've been chalked out in greater detail? Though it is, almost always, more difficult to chalk out a solution and the countours of the progression to it than the stating of the problems for which it's required- and perhaps that's why talking as much of the solution, if not more, is of no mean importance.

Also, I don't quite see how turning to your brother-in-law for sexual satiety makes one the "face of freedom and a face of India's liberals". I would have supposed that applying for divorce on grounds of incompatibility would've been a really emancipated and 'free' thing to do, not screwing over with other people and maintaining the guise of fidelity all along. It's another thing to be sexually deviant and enjoy it and another to have the courage to break out of an unsatisfying marriage.

Arpit Kumar said...

I wonder how it would have been porn had Savita applied for "divorce on grounds of incompatibility". Pornography is a product and it has a target audience, for that purpose their needs to be pornographic material.

I agree, that there could have been other liberal ways of solving Savita's problem but we are not dealing with the subject of a novel here. Its porn.

Secondly, Savita is a woman of the lower middle class. In the context of the functioning of the institution of arranged marriages in India, their is a great ratio of women who do keep struggling with their marriage inspite of "incompatibility" with the partner (and mostly domestic violence) simply because of the distance their is between justice and the court in our country.

In such a circumstances, their might be an odd case or two (or many)where an incestual relationship may develop.

In that sense, the whole plot has a bit of realism to it. I hope you agree.