One of the most important socio-cultural changes of recent times relates to the very rapid increase in access to very diverse forms of pornography, including violent porn. Like all other important social and cultural changes, this change should be examined for its possible impact by unbiased researchers. Unfortunately, such careful research and well-informed debate is not very visible in India, with the result that, two highly distorted views, have dominated the discussion.
The first such distorted view is based on the moral policing approach. This view fails to distinguish between various forms of porn, ranging from mildly erotic and sensual to extremely violent, and condemns all porn, often even asking for a ban on all porn. The second, equally distorted view goes to the other extreme, shutting its eyes to the increasing evidence of the harmful impacts of certain types of porn, holding that no harmful impact exists. Unfortunately, this view is being promoted in several not-so-obvious ways by powerful interests who benefit from the proliferation of porn.
The truth about violent porn
Such a view ignores many studies that already exist about the adverse impacts of proliferation of certain types of porn, particularly violent porn. For example, there is the study by Seiya Morita in the context of Japan, which makes two important points. Firstly, on the basis of the available data, it seeks to establish a statistical co-relationship between the increase in the proliferation of porn, and the increase of sexual crimes. Secondly, on the basis of a survey of culprits of sexual crimes, this study establishes that nearly a third of them, while watching pornographic videos, had felt a yearning for doing something similar in real life.
Then, in the more specific context of India, we have a lot of anecdotal evidence and news reports about actual sexual crimes and confessions of culprits of these crimes. There have been increasing reports about the circulation of videos of several women and girls, including students. In some cases, these have led to further violence and even suicides of those who have been defamed.
A surprising increase in sale and circulation of video clips depicting rapes has been reported from not just big cities, but even smaller towns. There is increasing suspicion that many rapes and other crimes against women are taking place with the specific aim of preparing such videos.
So one very urgent issue that needs to be researched and debated is the extent to which proliferation of certain kinds of porn has led to or may have led to an increase in sexual violence against women and children (female as well as male children). Also, it needs to be examined more specifically, to what extent this proliferation of porn is related to the increase in the trafficking of women and children.
Another important area of research is how exposure to certain forms of porn has different impacts on different categories of people. Here, more specifically, it needs to be researched how the sudden intrusion of porn in culturally conservative families and communities can be very disruptive, particularly those forms of porn which relate to incest and various prohibited relationships. The links of this to several violent crimes should also be explored. Yet another important area that should be explored is the extent to which porn can become highly addictive and the impact of such addiction on specific groups like students.
Last, but not the least, we need to examine the impact of the proliferation of porn in terms of much reduced possibilities of good cinema, TV and literature, as well as the wider cultural implications of this. Rational, research and facts based discussion on all these and related aspects is important, and badly needed.