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Fed Up Of 'Kids Of His Age Watching Porn', 16-Year-Old Akash Narwala' Is On A Mission To Ban Pornography

The easy accessibility of porn among children is corroding society, they say.

17/05/2017 5:41 PM IST | Updated 18/05/2017 8:34 AM IST
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Porn is a controversial topic in India. Until recently it was taboo to even broach it in public. The issue is in limelight again after 16-year-old Akash Narwala filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court recently asking for permission to join Indore-based lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani's PIL against Internet porn.

Vaswani had famously filed a petition in 2013 to ban pornography in India.

The petition says

"That Pornographic Videos, films and pictures are easily accessible through the internet now-a-days and as a result, I have observed that kids of my age i.e., teenagers are getting distracted and addicted to watching porn which is detrimental for their progress."

It also says that child pornography has been banned across the world, and the issue of the child as an actor in porn films, as well as a viewer of such films, should be dealt with. The petition states that pornography corrupts the minds of youngsters.

"Everyone has access to porn so easily these days," Narwala said, talking to HuffPost India. "Kids in school are watching porn and that is directly resulting in increase in juvenile crime. Moral values of kids are getting degraded by porn."

His suggestion is that there should be proper sex education in schools. He also believes that the government should block porn websites and spread awareness through apps.

"The government and society need to decide what kind of environment it wants to build for kids. One like Tarak Mehta ka ooltah chasma or one with porn?" Narwala insists.

Vaswani too is concerned about children watching porn. "Would you want your child to access porn?" he asks. "These days it is everywhere on the Internet. Even if your child is opening an educational website there is pornographic content (sic)."

The complete porn ban

While the petition's focus is on banning child pornography and preventing underage users from accessing porn, both Narwala and Vaswani are in favour of an outright porn ban.

Narwala believes that adults too should refrain from watching porn. "Why do window shopping when you can actually perform something which is given by god?" he asks. He and Vaswani both weighed in about scientific studies that have concluded that porn can lead to broken relationships and divorces.

In his petition, the teenager points out that porn objectifies women. "The easy accessibility of porn nowadays in India through Internet is a major cause of increasing sex crimes against women and minor girls in the country. Most porn videos show women in such poor light, objectifying them and disgracing them," it states.

Many articles have been written about how porn is a medium of objectification. In fact, the debate has spurred a new genre of so called feminist porn which is a much-explored talking point in adult entertainment business.

"Studies which are saying that there is no relation between porn and crime or the state of society are humbug and powered by the porn industry," the Indore-born lawyer says. "Today's children have no discipline and that is because of the exposure to adult content."

Social Impact

Family counselor Archana Mittal told HuffPost India that because of porn, many families and women were facing mental health issues.

"Often, children watching porn or that kind of material cropping up on the website has had an adverse effect on the mentality of the child and family," she said. "These issues are often ignored. The government should take action to curb it."

Earlier a woman had also requested the supreme court to ban pornography because her husband was addicted to it and it was affecting their lives.

The legal side

Vaswani's case is built around Section 292 (1) of Indian Penal Code that dates back to 1860.

"A book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect, or (where it comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items, is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely having regard to all relevant circumstances to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it."

"Any kind of obscenity is punishable, and pornography is beyond obscenity so it is automatically a criminal activity," Vaswani said.

Delhi-based lawyer Apar Gupta suggests that the law is ambiguous. "Obscenity is a broad provisional sense in this law. According to this law even distribution some of the books can be a criminal activity," he told HuffPost India.

"Additionally, the criminal offense is against the distribution, sales and exhibition of the content. Viewing such material can't be held under a punishable purview," Gupta added.

Actions taken so far

One of the milestone moments in India's fight against pornography occurred in 2015 when the present government banned a whopping 857 websites in one fell sweep. The move sparked a huge controversy and, bowing to public pressure, authorities lifted the ban partially, allowing access to some of the websites. However, there was a caveat in the order lifting the ban. The government passed the responsibility of monitoring child pornography on to the Internet Service Providers (ISP).

So, if the ISPs chose to unblock any of the 857 websites and later it was found that any of them carried child porn, they would be liable. The ISPs wrote to the Department of Telecom asking for help in identifying any offending websites.

In February 2016, seven months after saying that a complete ban on porn was not possible, the Supreme Court did a U-turn and asked the government to find the ways to completely block porn websites. The bench said that the task could be difficult but not impossible. In March 2017, the court gave government time to give suggestions on how to block child pornography.

Vaswani feels that the government has a vested interested in not banning pornography. "The technology to block these website exists and we have seen that in blocking 857 websites earlier. The freedom of speech and difficulty of executions are just excuses," he said.

The way ahead

While the government is working on how porn websites can be controlled, the petitioners are hoping for a positive response from the Supreme Court.

"Porn has had a very bad impact on youth," Vaswani said. "Anyone shouldn't defend it with freedom of speech purview, especially for children. We are hoping that there are laws in place to ban pornographic content."

Here is the copy of full affidavit acquired by livelaw.in.

Fed Up Of 'Kids Of His Age Watching Porn', 16-Year-Old Akash Narwala' Is On A Mission To Ban Pornography

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