Pornography blamed for rapes

NEW DELHI — As India casts around for reasons to explain a series of horrifying sex crimes, the latest being the kidnap and brutal rape of a five-year-old girl, pornography is under scrutiny.

By (AFP)

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Published: Thu 25 Apr 2013, 9:08 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:08 PM

Recent events have galvanised anti-porn campaigners after it was revealed, via unnamed police officers quoted in local newspapers, that the suspects in the rape of the five-year-old had watched explicit material before the crime.

Aroused by video clips on their mobile phones, they allegedly abducted the girl in a working class area in eastern New Delhi and drunkenly raped her so violently she was left with life-threatening injuries.

The pornography claims coincide with a separate legal effort in the Supreme Court to introduce an outright ban on such material in India.

“Our children are accessing more and more graphic and brutal videos and they are imitating them and we are suffering,” Kamlesh Vaswani, a commercial lawyer who has petitioned the Supreme Court to demand a ban, said.

“Our laws are very vague in this area so it can be corrected in the Supreme Court,” he said ahead of the next hearing in the case set for April 29.

Two Indian laws already outlaw the distribution or creation of obscene material, with the Information Technology Act (2000) prescribing up to five years in jail for anyone caught publishing “lascivious” material. But as most of the pornography accessed in India is on sites outside the jurisdiction of prosecutors and viewed in the privacy of homes or on mobile phones, convictions are rare and the restrictions are largely meaningless.

“It is technically possible to ban it,” said 41-year-old Vaswani, who has a 10-year-old son at home in the central city of Indore. “They need to have some expert help from the IT sector.”

The debate about links between pornography and sex crime mirrors other largely unresolved controversies globally about whether violent video games cause gun crime or if gangster rap encourages anti-social behaviour.

Some experts deny any link, pointing to stable or declining incidences of rape in some countries where pornography has gone from scarcity to ubiquity in the last 15 years thanks to its availability on the Internet.

Others say the Internet provides a forum for criminally-minded perverts to meet and vocalise their darkest desires. It also creates an industry that produces ever more depraved and damaging material. The Supreme Court ruling in India will set a new legally binding precedent and could force the government to find a way to ban one of the most searched for subjects on Google.

“In terms of the larger debate, whether porn leads to violence, I don’t think anyone should have a knee-jerk reaction and say it does,” junior IT minister Milind Deora said on Tuesday.

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