Pornography in India

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In India, watching or possessing pornographic materials is legal. However, the production, publication, or distribution of such materials is illegal.[1] Pornography is available in print magazines, but is mainly consumed using the internet. This consumption is increasing with the increased prevalence of smartphones and the internet. Despite the increased access, public discourse and attitudes on pornography remain muted and a taboo in many parts of India.

Types of publication[edit]


Studies have found that print media is less widely accessible than internet media in India. A randomized survey of 96 random vendors, such as video stores, mobile downloads/recharge stores and cybercafés, in Haryana, India found that 17% displayed pornography openly, 34% displayed it semi-openly, and 49% kept it hidden.[2] It is possible that cultural taboos[3] and legal issues (such as those described below) make it more desirable to view pornography in India through internet mediums, such as computers or smartphones, for more privacy.


Internet pornography has become very popular in India with up to 70% of total traffic from porn websites. It has become a major portion of traffic and source of data revenue for telecom companies.[4] A popular porn site released viewership data and national capital Delhi recorded up to 40% of all traffic.[5]

One self reporting survey found that 63% of youths in urban areas such as Haryana reported watching pornography, with 74% accessing it through their mobile phones.[2] As smartphone and internet access in India continues to increase, more people will be able to privately view pornography.[6] Quartz has have found that 50% of Indian IP addresses accessed popular pornography websites on mobile phones. Online erotic comics have also become popular in India as the internet becomes more readily available to the common citizen.[7]

Softcore pornography[edit]

Prior to the explosion of the internet, soft-core pornographic movies were popularly consumed in India.[8] Depending on one's definition of soft-core pornography, it is arguable that many Hindi films show mild softcore pornography using songs and scenes designed to sexually arouse their viewers.[citation needed]


The law as it pertains to pornography or "obscenity" is laid down in Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, which was amended by the IT Act to include electronic data.[9]

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) Chapter XI Paragraph 67, the Government of India specifies online pornography as a punishable offense. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 section 293 also makes the sale of obscene objects to minors illegal. Section 67 of the IT Act deals with "publishing obscene information in electronic form". This law has been interpreted to criminalize the posting of pornographic content online. However, accessing "obscene" content privately is not illegal. The IT Act was amended by the Parliament on 2008, and Section 67B was inserted which criminalizes browsing, downloading, creation, and publishing child pornorgraphy. Child anime porn is also explicitly criminalized.

Child pornography in India is illegal. In February 2009, the Parliament of India passed the "Information Technology Bill," banning the creation and transmission of child pornography. The bill enables India's law enforcement agencies to take strict action against those seeking child pornography. For example, browsing for child pornography on the Internet can lead to a 5-year term of imprisonment and a 40 lakh fine.[10]

In India, distributing pornography is illegal. However, enforcement is not severe and pornographic materials are easily available in public places. Softcore and hardcore pornography movies/photos are easily accessible through magazines, films, or the Internet. The law states that possessing and watching pornographic materials is legal, but production and distribution are prohibited.

Pornographic films in India are referred to as Blue Films and are available virtually anywhere; especially in areas where illegal material is already being sold. Despite the illegality, stores selling "X-rated" material are abundant in major cities and advertise openly; laws are rarely enforced in this case.

Judicial opinion[edit]

The Supreme Court of India, in Khoday Distilleries Ltd. and Ors. v. State of Karnataka and Ors. - (1995) 1 SCC 574, held that there is no fundamental right to carry on business of exhibiting and publishing pornographic or obscene films and literature.[11]

In 2013, a PIL petition was filed in the Supreme Court of India seeking a ban on pornography in India.[12] The Court issued a notice to the central government of India and sought its response. The government informed the Court that the Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee constituted under Section 88 of the IT Act, 2000 was assigned with a brief with regard to availability of pornography on the Internet and it was looking into the matter.[12] In July 2015, while hearing petition, Chief Justice H.L. Dattu observed that, how can court restrain an adult from watching pornography within the four walls of a room and termed such a ban to be violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which grants right to personal liberty to its citizens.[12][13] On 26 January 2016, the Supreme Court had asked the Center to suggest ways to ban all forms of child pornography.[14]

Socio-cultural attitudes[edit]

Many sex related topics, such as pornography, are considered taboo in traditional Indian households.[3] This trend seems to be rapidly changing, especially in urbanized cities. Researchers have found that the primary sex education of youth born in the 1990s onwards in India comes from pornography and conversations amongst their peers, which has been known to cause long term sexual anxiety and frustration in other cultures where youth learn sexual attitudes from pornography.[15] However, due to the internet and increased access for the common citizen, pornography has slowly entered the public discourse, most notably with the outrage towards a 2015 government order to censor 857 websites that contained explicit materials.[16]

Homosexual pornography[edit]

Homosexual pornography is not widely available in print, due to the socio-culture taboo surrounding both pornography and homosexuality (see LGBT culture in India). However, Indian IP Addresses watch both lesbian and gay porn using the internet, with a 213% increase in searches for gay porn.[17] Additionally, the most popular search for pornography amongst females in India, centers on lesbian and gay pornography.


Important people in media have argued that censoring pornography would decrease the rape culture in India. There has not been a link between pornography being a significant factor in the rate of crime and violence in India.[18] Indian ministers quit after caught watching porn in parliament. Many Indian politicians, including a women's affairs minister, resigned after being caught watching pornography on a mobile phone during a session of state parliament.The link between pornography and sexual violence has not been observed in other countries.

Sex work[edit]

Some studies have speculated that pornography influences sex work in India.[19][20][21] For instance, one study of 555 female sex workers found that 45% self-reported pornographic influence driving clientele desire for anal sex.[20] In another study, female sex workers reported being asked to perform new sexual acts such as anal sex, masturbation and different sex positions, requests that they believed were due to an increased exposure to pornography.[21] The implications of such work is currently unclear for public health policy in India.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajak, Brajesh (2011) [2011]. Pornography Laws: XXX Must not be Tolerated (Paperback ed.). Delhi: Universal Law Co. p. 61. ISBN 978-81-7534-999-5. 
  2. ^ a b Ravi Shankar, (2012). NU (DE) MEDIA: A PRELIMINARY STUDY INTO THE YOUNG PEOPLES' ACCESS TO PORNOGRAPHY THROUGH THE NEW MEDIA. Indian Streams Research Journal, Vol. II, Issue. IV, DOI : 10.9780/22307850,
  3. ^ a b Verma, R. K., & Mahendra, V. S. (2004). Construction of masculinity in India: A gender and sexual health perspective. Journal of Family Welfare, 50, 71–78.
  4. ^ Ghosh, Shauvik (4 August 2015). "Oops, Indian ISPs, telcos could lose 30-70% of data revenue because of porn ban". Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "Indians love 'desi' porn, Delhi tops with 39% traffic - The Economic Times". Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  6. ^ Shaik S, Rajkumar RP. Internet access and sexual offences against children: an analysis of crime bureau statistics from India. Open Journal of Psychiatry & Allied Sciences. 2015 Mar 8.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Overdorf, Jason. "Inside India’s softcore porn industry". Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "The Indian Penal Code". World Intellectual Property Organization. World Intellectual Property Organization. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Swati Deshpande (16 February 2009). "Browsing child porn will land you in jail". Times of India. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  11. ^ "Khoday Distilleries Ltd. and Ors. v. State of Karnataka and Ors. - (1995) 1 SCC 574". 1, Law Street. Supreme Court of India. 19 October 1989. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c Mohit Singh (10 July 2015). "Kamlesh Vaswani v. Union of India & Ors. (Pornography ban matter)". 1, Law Street. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "It's legal to watch porn in the privacy of your house, says SC". 2015-07-09. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  14. ^ "SC asks Centre to suggest measures to ban child pornography". Deccan Chronicle. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016. 
  15. ^ Abraham, L. (2001). Redrawing the Lakshman rekha: Gender differences and cultural constructions in youth sexuality in urban India. South Asia, 24, 133–156.
  16. ^ Khomami, Nadia (5 August 2015). "India lifts ban on internet pornography after criticism". Retrieved 12 November 2016 – via The Guardian. 
  17. ^ "Everything you wanted to know about how India watches porn in one map and five charts". Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  18. ^ S.B. Math, B. Viswanath, A.S. Maroky, N.C. Kumar, A.V. Cherian, M.C. Nirmala. Sexual crime in India: is it influenced by pornography? Indian J Psychol Med, 36 (2014), pp. 147–152
  19. ^ Bradley, J., Rajaram, S. P., Isac, S., Gurav, K., Ramesh, B. M., Gowda, C., Moses, S., & Alary, M. (2015). Pornography, Sexual Enhancement Products, and Sexual Risk of Female Sex Workers and their Clients in Southern India. Archives of sexual behavior, 1-10.
  20. ^ a b Tucker, S., Krishna, R., Prabhakar, P., Panyam, S., & Anand, P. (2012). Exploring dynamics of anal sex among female sex workers in Andhra Pradesh. Indian Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, 33(1), 9–15.
  21. ^ a b Beattie, T. S. H., Bradley, J. E., Vanta, U. D., Lowndes, C. M., & Alary, M. (2013). Vulnerability re-assessed: The changing face of sex work in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. AIDS Care, 25, 378–384. doi:10.1080/ 09540121.2012.701726.

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