This article has been written by Aaryaki Rana from Chanakya National Law University, Patna, and has been curated by Yashasvi Kanodia from NMIMS’ Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai.
A human’s pleasure-seeking abilities and mediums are mainstream and widely available in today’s era. There is no general litmus test for gauging the erotic feel of a particular content, that is to say, what may be sexual for one person may not be the same for another. One of the most prevalent modes of sexual indulgence for today’s generation is seen via the usage and exploitation of pornography. Pornography has no widely accepted definition, owing to the fact that what seems pornographic to one person shall not necessarily seem so to another. However, ‘pornography’ is usually referred to as representations designed to arouse a person and ultimately give them sexual pleasure, by way of them reading, watching, hearing or handling such content. Most often, pornography is portrayed as one of the never-ending ills of today’s puritanical society. This society’s evidence of moral decay is available to users through basic broadband access or a musty video camera. The idea of pornography is not a modern thought. Many researchers think that evolution has inclined humans to visual arousal than just a means of reproducing. The diversity in the pornographic material and content throughout history suggests that the human species are keen on images of sexual representation.
As early as 30,000 years ago, Paleolithic people carved large breasted, thick-thighed figurines of pregnant women out of stone and wood. These Venus figurines were either intended for sexual arousal or as a fertility symbol or religious icons. In India, the ‘Kama Sutra’ was seen as a sex-manual and a relationship handbook. In the 1800s, the idea of pornography was properly given shape, by way of printing erotic novels. These novels were printed since mid 1600s in France. Technology drove the innovation for pornography. It was not until 1839 that Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype, a primitive form of photography. The pornographers almost immediately followed suit and appropriated this new technology. The videography followed a similar path. By 1896, the filmmakers in France has delved into the pornography genre and directed silent clips, where the actresses would perform a strip tease. For the longest time, this stag pornography was standing in the society. However, in the 1970s the public showing of explicit films was finally accepted. The internet access and the invention of digital cameras stooped the obstacles to a zilch, and pornography shooting had become a non-professional piece of video content. This gained traction due to the speedy advancement in the area of technology and the scheme of public affordability and accessibility. However, pornography has always been a social stigma since time immemorial and in today’s period, it has gone to the extent of being lethal for the opposite gender and minors. Before, that is discussed, it is important to throw light on the present laws and rules that try to keep pornography exploitation in check.
Sections 67, 67A and 67B of the Information Technology Act, 2000 are the relevant provisions in our country. Section 67 states punishment for the publication or transmission of obscene material in electronic form. Section 67A criminalises the publication or transmission of any material depicting sexually explicit act or conduct in electronic form. It also adds for situations wherein a person or group of person forces or influences another person to publish or transmit such content over the Internet. Section 67B, specifically discusses online child pornography and mentions various acts that are considered as an offence-
- Publication or transmission of material depicting children in sexually explicit conduct or act, or forcing/influencing the same;
- Creating text or images showing child pornography;
- Collecting, searching, browsing, downloading, promoting, advertising, distributing, or exchanging any material showing child pornography in electronic form;
- Facilitating abuse of children online;
- Enticing or inducing children to an online relationship with other children for sexually explicit acts; or
- Recording sexually explicit act with children.
Sections 292 and 293 of the Indian Penal Code describe pornography in any form as illegal. This section states that any obscene content sold, distributed, imported or exported would be held as an offence, A child is any person below the age of 18 years. The internet has served as a medium to allow the abusers to abuse children sexually, globally. Pornography in India has become a big market for objectifying sexual intercourse between individuals, who look to indulge in sexual acts. However, what stands and interests the pornography audiences the most today remains child pornography. It does not come as a surprise to see paedophiles establishing their connections with young, impressionable teenagers by way of social media and win their confidence and defraud those helpless children by forcing them into performing favours for them. During this difficult time of the pandemic, where the attention of the nation has shifted to more substantial and weighty problems, the distribution and availability of child pornography is seen as downright inhuman and horrid. Recently, the Maharashtra government reported that 133 FIRs had been registered and 46 people were arrested by the Maharashtra police for cases related to child pornography, since the nationwide lockdown was enforced. This spike in the child pornographic content consumption shows the existence of the alarming number of paedophiles, child rapists and child pornography addicts online. This becomes an extremely unsafe environment for children who depend on the internet for the most part of their lives. The threat of cyber trafficking is booming, and such people who try to lower a child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse go unnoticed for the fact of being secured in the comfort of their online platforms. It becomes pivotal for our government to provide for a wider definition of child pornography and for stringent laws and regulations in the light of such circumstances and events. In furtherance to the same objective, a Parliamentary House Committee headed by Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh has recommended multi-pronged recommendations to tackle the hazard that is child pornography. In spite of everything that is being said and done, our country must try to modernise in terms of sexual education and orientation and propagate the idea and thought of safe intercourse and also educate our citizens for them to gain a broader perspective on what is ethically and lawfully correct and incorrect. Once the thought process of all generations have been changed fundamentally, social perils and evils such as child pornography will be condemned by the society at large and will be curbed at the community level by way of awareness.