Hardcore corruption of the human hard disk
Two labourers raped a five-year-old and left her for dead; a husband’s erectile dysfunction resulted in divorce proceedings. Two starkly different events that have little in common, barring one little element - porn. While the rapists had been aroused by watching porn and allegedly went hunting for prostitutes, prior to their rather gruesome act, the soon-to-be-divorced husband’s therapist told the court that his ability to ‘perform’ had been hankered by his habit of watching porn on the internet. Whichever way you look at it, porn or pornography - defined by the dictionaries as the ‘explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual gratification’ - is certainly in the spotlight now. And even the liberalists cannot argue about the fact that it’s for all the wrong reasons.
To address the more dangerous question first, does watching porn make a person seek out sexual intercourse? That answer is a resounding YES - studies have revealed that a person who has been stimulated by watching porn is 400 per cent more likely to seek out sex than someone who hasn’t. “Watching pornography affects the frontal lobe, altering the personality of the individual. It will persuade him to watch more and more porn and lead to satyriasis where a man is dissatisfied even with sexual intercourse and wants to either have more sex or watch more porn. The same mania in women is called nymphomania,” explains Dr Narayana Reddy, one of the top sexologists in South India, who runs the DEGA Institute in T Nagar. He goes on to add that the physical manifestations of watching porn for long periods of time can be dangerous as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and other sexual disorders have been linked to compulsive masturbation while watching porn. “It’s like being withdrawn – a completely different phase of their life if they become addicted to porn,” he adds.
But hold on: not everyone who watches porn can be branded as an addict or sex-offender-in-the-making. Though Indian clinics are yet to use it, porn magazines and videos are commonly used in labs and semen collection centres in the West as it makes the extraction process smoother. Sexual medicine analysts frequently use pornographic aids in their line of work and have established that some amount of sexual stimulation is good, as long as it is with a consensual partner or preferably (at least in India), a spouse.
“Watching porn is not a mistake nor is it a crime,” states Dr Rajani Nandakumar, psychological counsellor at Bharatmatrimony. Having worked with several couples and marital mangles in his practice, he adds, “It’s when they spend more than an hour on it everyday or neglect other work just to watch porn that they can be called addicts.”
While porn addiction, by itself, can be treated psychologically with a few interventions, the fact that not speaking about sex because it is a taboo is a huge deterrent, says Dr V Vinayak, a psychiatrist who worked with VHS for almost five years.
“It becomes dangerous when it is combined with other problems - like drinking, drugs and sexual depravity. This could end up being dangerous,” he says. Psychotherapy can help addicts as long as they catch it early, but the family needs to be honest enough to admit that their child has a ‘serious’ issue and not just sweep it under the carpet. “Maybe then, such cases of child abuse and rape will reduce,” he says.
With the Supreme Court also mulling over how to stem the porn supply, legal experts say that the framework needs some work first. “You see, IPC Section 293 specifies that it is against the law to sell obscene objects to minors but till date, there is no law which states that watching pornography is illegal,” says Babitha Sunil, a lawyer. The only prosecution that can be done in any case relating to porn is when it is ‘transmitted’ or sold en masse. According to an amendment to the IT Act, 2008, any person who captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of a person is liable for three years in the slammer and a Rs 2 lakh fine. Transmitting porn on a mainstream basis will earn you a slightly larger jail time of three to five years.
Unfortunately, very few people are prosecuted because they aren’t caught in the act.
“As the mobile phone and tablet platforms are major stakeholders for such porn videos and content, it is not easy to find and prosecute the main producer or accused. So banning websites becomes that much more difficult,” says V Alamelu, a High Court advocate.
(With inputs from Harrita Narayan, Srimathi Sridharan, Pavithra Ravi and Anita Raghuraman)