Is online porn fuelling the rape epidemic?

Nikhil Bhave
Saturday, 28 April 2018

India is currently gaining a whole lot of unwanted attention because of increasing number of rapes which are dominating the headlines. Amidst the heated polemics and politics, the government has brought in an ordinance proposing the death penalty for raping children. Even that has drawn criticism over the age factor. Another angle being blamed is online pornography. Politicians have called for banning online porn, while the Supreme Court has noted a rise in cyber crimes, in particular, those relating to circulation of videos of rape, gang rape and child pornography.

India is currently gaining a whole lot of unwanted attention because of increasing number of rapes which are dominating the headlines. Amidst the heated polemics and politics, the government has brought in an ordinance proposing the death penalty for raping children. Even that has drawn criticism over the age factor. Another angle being blamed is online pornography. Politicians have called for banning online porn, while the Supreme Court has noted a rise in cyber crimes, in particular, those relating to circulation of videos of rape, gang rape and child pornography.

However, the evidence is conflicting. In the country where most of the content generates from, the United States, According to the Justice Department’s authoritative National Crime Victimisation Survey, since 1995, the US sexual assault rate has actually fallen 44 per cent. (Please note that we are talking here about legal sites and not the content one can access via the darknet.) But are all people who watch porn potential rapists? It has to be noted that watching porn is not just limited to males only. The reverse question also matters: if online porn is fuelling sexual crimes on women, shouldn’t the reverse also hold true to some extent? What if, as far as India is concerned, it also has to do a lot with the mindset?

Unlike most of the world, people from the subcontinent do have a lot of misogyny and that is a prime factor for rape. A rape is not just a forced intercourse, it is also about the display of power.

Are you feeling “Oh, I have watched porn sometimes, and I am not a misogynist.’’ Yes, that is because you know the difference between relieving tension and taking things at face value. Many of us largely use porn as a harmless recreational activity. However, due to the data explosion in India, now increasing data and mobile penetration has ensured that what was once watched only in high-class urban areas is now available to everyone with a mobile phone and a working internet connection. 

As per an article by social activist Ram Puniyani, “In a significant statistical observation and study of rape cases Mrinal Satish, faculty member of National Law University, Delhi, tells us another tale. He has used the court data and observes that 75 per cent of rape cases take place in rural India. His observations are based on the cases reported in Criminal Law Journal from 1983 to 2009.”

The need to watch porn arises when one is deprived of sex, and not all people understand it is just a genre, and not real-life and try to do the things shown on the screen to real life. Then, we have a huge problem.

But will banning work? It looks like mainly a problem with the mindset. Also, even now, one can access far more heinous formats of pornography on the dark web. All of them are illegal and all of them have viewership. The technology is helping them evade the law. Similarly, banning will achieve nothing concrete. The traditional content providers will be still there and people will access them via alternate means. This is an issue which cannot be termed is a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as an answer. So what do we do?

Statistics Speak
 About 30,000 people are watching porn each second around the world.
 About 30 per cent of all web traffic comprises porn.
 Half of Pornhub’s users from India access the website from their smartphones.
 Pornhub’s Android traffic from India is the third highest after the US and the UK
 Around 81 million visitors visit Pornhub on daily basis.
 

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