Why Are We Not Legalizing Porn?

A nearly-1,500-page charge-sheet was recently filed by the Mumbai Police against Raj Kundra, an eminent businessman and the husband of Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty. The police alleged that Kundra was the “main facilitator” in the creation of pornographic films and their publication on various platforms.


His arrest sparked debates on online forums about pornography, a much-contested topic in society and courtrooms. One question left everyone confounded:


Was Raj Kundra creating pornographic content or erotica?


Pornography law in India is incredibly vague.
Pornography law in India is incredibly vague.

Ideally, a question like this when there are multiple laws banning the publication and transmission of pornography would seem comical. The irony, however, is that Indian laws on pornography are nothing but arbitrary terms open to subjective interpretation. Section 67 of the IT Act, 2000 makes it illegal to publish or transmit electronic “obscene material” that is “lascivious or appeals to the ‘prurient’ interest or its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt” people who consume such content. A quick search will let you know that ‘prurient’ means ‘having an or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters, especially the sexual activity of others’.


If it was not clear already, the court can use this provision to ban electronic content that they deem evoke sexual interest. There is no objective definition and the court can use it anytime in their favour. Isn’t it funny though? We have brands using women’s bodies as a packaging tactic and unnecessarily detailed and zoomed-in advertisements about a woman biting into a chocolate cookie or taking a sip from a soft drink. Those get broadcasted and profited off, yet they are not considered “prurient”. Let’s go a step further by addressing a Bollywood precedent: item songs. While women strut in dangerously skimpy outfits to the tune of men sexualising their bodies and proportions, the viewers are definitely not harboring prurient interests.



It is accepted that law cannot be absolute, however, it can at least attempt to not contradict itself. In 2015, The Supreme Court rebutted orally that no one can be stopped from consuming porn in the privacy of their room as it is their fundamental right to do so. Yes, you can watch porn but you cannot produce it or participate in its transmission. The logistics of that argument cannot even be debated.


Why are we so against porn? Desire and sex are natural and the fact that India is a leading consumer of pornography speaks volumes about how obsessed we are with the idea of sex. But is our discomfort with sex just about the taboo associated?


In short, it is not. A common argument against porn is that it goes against the nature of the ‘Indian culture’ and corrupts the youth. Are we talking about the same culture that published a book in the 1800s titled Kamasutra that spoke in great detail about the relationship between pleasure and happiness?


Interest groups also claim that porn should be banned because it degrades women. While it is true that the portrayal of women in porn is hardly realistic, to assume porn contributes any percent to a woman’s daily tribulations is a fallacy. It is not porn that forces women inside the four walls of their home, it is culture. It is society. Let us not shift the blame to something that is a successful business because of a pre-existing demand for the degradation of females.


In fact, if we are so considerate of women and the youth, porn should be legalized. Women who work in the porn industry endure abuse of enormous proportions and are often forced into the industry as a result of trafficking. It should be given legal recognition so lawmakers can frame the legislature to protect performer’s rights. As per the youth, consuming pornography is a source of instant gratification without the fear of pregnancy, disease or rejection. There’s also a research study conducted by the University of Miami that proves the legalisation of porn reduces sex crime rates in countries.


All data points towards the positive outcome of legalising porn. In fact, along with sex education, there should be a proper conversation about pornography, its problems, and what consensual and non-consensual sources are.


The bottom line is: banning porn does not hinder consumption. It leads to anarchy. This insistence over banning porn only reflects a gap in sex education in this country, not a gap in our values.


Edited By-Jayati Tripathi and Sanat Dayani