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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014
Dirty pictures
Indrajit Hazra
July 13, 2013
First Published: 20:32 IST(13/7/2013)
Last Updated: 13:34 IST(14/7/2013)

The good Jainacharya Shrimad Vijaya Ratnasundersuriji Maharaj Saheb has been thinking about naked pictures. Some of these pictures, I suspect, involve people in various stages of coitus.

The acharya of the Jain Tapagachha community hasn’t been the only person thinking about pornography though. There’s Rajya Sabha MP Vijay J Darda, Pravin B Jain, Sanjay K Vora and Pratibha Naitthani contemplating too.

And why, pray, have they been thinking of smut? Because they have signed a petition “praying to put a check on cyber pornography by amending the IT Act 2000”, which is now with the Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions.

In case you’re thinking I’m one of those perverts looking up words like ‘mastectomy’ in the dictionary, you’re terribly mistaken. While having my morning glass of murky lemonade on Thursday, I came across a Parliament of India notice in a newspaper.

So there I was, moments later, at the Rajya Sabha website ogling at the five-page petition.

Sharing attention with other petitions such as one “praying for protection of interest of bonafide Indian nationals residing in Sikkim prior to its merger with India in 1975” and another “praying for re-examination of the policy of making tunnel-based hydropower projects”, the anti-cyber-porn petition looked important.

I couldn’t but feel moved at how the five petitioners are worried about the country’s youngsters. “...they are getting digressed, distorted and distressed from the various mediums of modern communication systems!”

The petition goes on to quote how “almost 70% of the traffic that passes through the gateways of Internet is adult in nature.” It also cites the example of “Fatherless/Motherless America” and how so many American children have been “orphaned” even though their parents are alive because these parents “are addicted to cyber pornography and don’t take any care of their children and the family”.

The next Porn-Zombieland, says the Five Against Filth, will be India.

Although pornography had indeed existed when my parents hit puberty and other things beyond, the Internet had not.

So imagine my relief when I shook off the mental image of myself as a kid bawling in a puddle of piss, unfed and uncared for while my mother or father or — horror of horrors! — both of them were engaged in unending hours of Internet porn. (It also made me feel ecstatic about not having kids to take care of.)

The note of concern takes on a deeper hue when the petition mentions how “children have started experimenting what they watch on the porn websites”.

Theirs is a plea to save these “experiment-oriented” children who need to be taught those good old ‘doctor-doctor’ games and how to peek into the next-door bathroom.

The petition also disapproves of the government’s introduction of sex education in schools. “It has rather helped spreading free sex culture and increase in pornography!”

But hang on. The plea doesn’t seem to have only a problem with porn falling into the hands of innocent cherubs. It also has a problem with porn. Which, I think, is a bit unfair on all of us above the age of 16. (18 if you’re a government stooge.)

It talks about cyber porn also having an “extremely bad effect on... adults leading to various types of social and medical problems.”

Pornography, in whatever form and on whatever platform, is essentially a visual (or textual) representation that jogs a person to reach different stages of sexual excitation.

It hopes to elicit responses that real sexual activity does. So making “pornography on computer/mobile a crime entailing severe punishment to the producers, distributers (sic) and viewers of such sites”, is closer to making all of us depend solely on real people every time biology comes calling — whether there are real people  around willing to help out or not.

The good Jainacharya and his compatriots must mean well. But their concerns need to be swivelled around to the fundamental concept of consent.

Child pornography, where consent is aburd, in its creation, distribution and consumption needs to be cracked down on. But most porn out there — online, offline, clothesline — involve, as hard as this may be for halo-nailed folks to believe, consenting adults.

An overwhelming number of people who pose with their kits off do it willingly. An overwhelming number of grown-ups who consume these images too don’t have sudden urges to ‘experiment’ on the next person walking up the road. In that respect, pornography is conservative.

Peddled without consent — recorded or clicked without the subjects’ knowledge — pornography needs to be banned.

As in child pornography, punishment needs to be meted out to both supply and demand sides. As for kids getting access, it is no concern of the government or busybodies outside homes and schools whether they should be protected from the ecstatic gaze and more of Sunny Leone.

So to get on a high horse and demand online porn be made illegal is to take off one’s top when the doctor needs to check the pulse. Porn happily existed much before TV, computers, mobiles or magazines did.

It just gets more democratic each passing day thanks to technology. It’s for pornophobes to decide whether this fact is for them to spit or to swallow.


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