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The great Indian porn debate: Does it create rapists or release sexual frustration?

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By Nithin Sridhar

The Indian government appears to have silently banned around 800 porn websites. According to this Hindustan Times report, the Internet service providers (ISP) received letters directing them to block porn websites from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Saturday. The ISP’s that have enforced the ban include Vodafone, MTNL, ACT, Hathway and BSNL.

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Many people have expressed opposition to this move on social media, though some have supported the move as well. The present ban has again highlighted the issue of pornography.

Prevalence of Pornography:

According to these statistics released by Covenant Eyes, between 2001 and 2007, the Internet porn industry went from a $1-billion-a-year industry to $3-billion-a-year in the US alone. It further says that by 2017, a quarter of a billion people are expected to be watching porn using mobiles or tablets, an increase of more than 30% from 2013.

It estimates that 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18. It further says that in 2008, a company called Hitwise cataloged 40,634 websites that distributed pornography. It quotes Damon Brown, author of “Porn and Pong and Playboy’s Greatest Covers” as saying:

It seems so obvious: If we invent a machine, the first thing we are going to do—after making a profit—is use it to watch porn. When the projector was invented roughly a century ago, the first movies were not of damsels in distress tied to train tracks or Charlie Chaplin-style slapsticks;they were stilted porn shorts called stag films. VHS became the dominant standard for VCRs largely because Sony wouldn’t allow pornographers to use Betamax; the movie industry followed porn’slead. DVDs, the Internet, cell phones. You name it, pornography planted its big flag there first, or atleast shortly thereafter.

The Hindustan Times report quotes a data from PornHub that says Indians form 40% of its total 14.2 billion users. Therefore, it can be easily concluded that consumption of pornography is widely prevalent across the world.

Effects of watching porn:

Many people, if not most, indulge in watching pornography to either fulfill their fantasies or to relieve their stress. Various studies have been conducted to access the impact of pornography on people, but no conclusive results have been obtained.

According to the Covenant Eyes report: 88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression, and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression. It further quotes a meta-analysis of 46 studies, that concluded that exposure to pornography puts one at an increased risk of committing sexual crimes (22% increase) and accepting rape myths (31% increase). It quotes another study of 187 female university students, where researchers concluded that early exposure to pornography was related to subsequent “rape fantasies” and attitudes supportive of sexual violence against women.

Therefore, consumption of porn, especially of the violent and hardcore variety may have a deep impact on minds of the people which may lead them to commit many sexual crimes as well.

But, according to this report by Christopher J. Ferguson and Richard D. Hartley:

Evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to pornography and sexual aggression is slim and may, at certain times, have been exaggerated by politicians, pressure groups, and some social scientists. Some of the debate has focused on violent pornography, but evidence of any negative effects is inconsistent, and violent pornography is comparatively rare in the real world. Victimization rates for rape in the United States demonstrate an inverse relationship between pornography consumption and rape rates.

It further quotes a study conducted in Japan that concludes that increasing availability of pornography is associated with declining rates of rape and other sex crimes.

A 2007 study made a survey of 1023 consumers of pornography in Australia. The consumers were asked to specify what effect did watching pornography have on their attitudes towards sexuality. The study revealed that 58.8% people thought that pornography had a positive influence on their attitudes towards sexuality, 34.6% felt it did not have any effect on them and 6.8% thought that it had a negative effect on them.

The positive effects listed by the pornography consumers included making them less repressed and more open minded about sex, increased tolerance towards others’ sexuality, giving pleasure, provided educational information, made them more attentive to partners sexual needs, and helped them to talk to their partners about sex.

The negative effects listed by the consumers in the study included increased tendency to objectify people, caused unrealistic sexual expectations, caused loss of interest in sex and relationship problems, and let to serious addictions.

These various reports clearly depict two things: one, there are definitely both positive and negative effects of watching pornography; two, though excessive viewing of pornography may lead to various sexual crimes in many cases, but, it cannot be considered as a driving factor that leads every consumer of pornography to commit crimes. Some studies also depict co-relation between increased pornographic consumption and decreased sexual crime rate.

Watching pornography is not same as creating pornography

The Supreme Court of India has recently stated that watching a porn movie within the four walls of the house cannot be considered as a crime. Watching porn inside a house is a private activity that harms no one, hence it may even become an issue of fundamental rights. On the other hand, creation of pornography may involve mafias who abduct women and make sex tape, or might secretly be filming couples using hidden cameras, and other activities. Hence, the law clearly bans creation and distribution of obscene materials. It is only with respect to child pornography that there is a ban on production as well as consumption.

Education and not prohibition is the solution

The Delhi incident of Nirbhaya rape, wherein the perpetrators of the crime used beastly methods of torture, can be linked to portrayal of such scenes in many hardcore pornographic videos. As quoted earlier, extensive and excessive exposure to pornography does have a negative influence on some people which may result in their committing various sexual crimes.

But, at the same time, majority of the pornography consumers are not criminals. It may well be argued that stopping people from watching porn may lead to increase in sexual frustration which may in-turn lead to increase in sexual crimes. Those people who used to satisfy their fantasies inside four walls, may come out and try to fulfill those fantasies through people.

If that happens, then there would be an opposite effect than what the ban intends to implement. From the various studies, it is clear that watching porn or not watching porn is not the driving factor behind various sexual crimes. It is the attitude and character of people which is the root cause.

People who are well rooted in values and have strong character, don’t indulge in sexual crimes, even though they may be watching hardcore porn at nights. On the other hand, those who are raised to believe that women are to be objectified and exploited, they become more encouraged to commit sexual crimes after watching pornography.

Further, it is practically impossible to stop people from watching porn. There are thousands of porn websites and many new websites come up every day. It is not practical to block all of them. Yet, even if we assume that a total block is implemented, even then, people will access porn through other means like CD’s and DVD’s. In fact, the business of various CD shops and porn CD manufacturers is going to flourish again, the way it did in pre-internet days.

Therefore, it is vital for the government to realize that only through proper and wholesome education that includes education on ethics, morality, and sex and relationships will it be able to counter any negative influence of pornography or other kinds of obscenity and prevent sexual crimes.

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.