Pornography in India

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A map showing pornography laws of the world.
  Fully legal
  Partially legal, under some restrictions, or ambiguous status
  Data unavailable

Pornography in India 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. In India, publishing pornographic material is illegal.[1]

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.


Sherlyn Chopra (left) and Poonam Pandey (right) are very active on adult platform OnlyFans.

Internet pornography has become very popular in India with from 30% 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]


  • The selling and distribution of pornographic material is illegal in India under section 292.[9]
  • The distribution, sale, or circulation of obscene materials and the selling of pornographic content to any person under age 20 years are illegal under section 293 and IT Act-67B.[10]
  • Child pornography is illegal and strictly prohibited across the country under section 67B of the Information Technology Act, 2000[11]
  • The manufacturing, publishing and distribution of pornography is illegal in India under section 292, 293.[12]

In July 2015 the Supreme Court of India refused to allow the blocking of pornographic websites and said that watching pornography indoors in the privacy of one's own home was not a crime.[13] In August 2015 the Government of India issued an order to Indian ISPs to block at least 857 websites that it considered to be pornographic.[14] In 2015 the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had asked internet service providers to take down 857 websites in a bid to control cyber crime, but after receiving criticism from the authorities it partially rescinded the ban. The ban from the government came after a lawyer filed a petition in the Supreme Court arguing that online pornography encourages sex crimes and rapes.[15]

In February 2016 the Supreme Court asked the Indian Government to suggest ways of banning all forms of child pornography.[16]

In October 2018 the government directed Internet service providers to block 827 websites that host pornographic content following an order by the Uttarakhand High Court. The court cited the rape of a 10th standard girl from Dehradun by four of her seniors. The four accused told police that they raped the girl after watching pornography on the Internet.[17]

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.[18]

Kamlesh Vaswani vs. Union of India and ors in 2013 (diary 5917, 2013), a PIL petition was filed in the Supreme Court of India seeking a ban on pornography in India.[19] 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.[19]

On 26 January 2016, the Supreme Court in written order, instructed govt "to suggest the ways and means so that these activities are curbed. The innocent children cannot be made prey to these kind of painful situations, and a nation, by no means, can afford to carry any kind of experiment with its children in the name of liberty and freedom of expression. When we say nation, we mean each member of the collective".[20]

Prajwala Letter dated 18.2.2015 VIDEOS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND RECOMMENDATIONS, a suo moto PIL was admitted in Supreme Court (Diary No.- 6818 - 2015). Prajwala NGO pleaded to court to stop rampant circulation of rape videos through mobile application WhatsApp. Supreme court has ordered CBI probe to find and arrest the culprits clearly visible in the rape videos.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

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 access both lesbian and gay porn using the internet, with a 213% increase in searches for gay porn from 2013 to 2014.[24] 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 rapes in India. There has not been a link between pornography being a significant factor in the rate of crime and violence in India.[25] On the contrary, in other countries, increased availability of porn has been correlated with lower rates of sexual violence.[26][27][28]

Sex work[edit]

Some studies have speculated that pornography influences sex work in India.[29][30][31] For instance, one study of 555 female sex workers found that 45% self-reported pornographic influence driving clientele desire for anal sex.[30] 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.[31] 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. ^ Mohammed, Syed (7 April 2016). "Indians love 'desi' porn, Delhi tops with 39% traffic - The Economic Times". 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. ^ "Meet India's first porn star". Public Radio International. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  8. ^ Overdorf, Jason (7 September 2011). "Inside India's softcore porn industry". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Section 292 in The Indian Penal Code".
  10. ^ "Section 293 in The Indian Penal Code".
  11. ^ "Central Government Act: Section 67 [B] in The Information Technology Act, 2000". Indian Kanoon. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  12. ^ Rajak, Brajesh (2011) [2011]. Pornography Laws: XXX Must not be Tolerated. In order to curb this Jio has blocked around 827 pornographic sites in Oct 2018 (Paperback ed.). Delhi: Universal Law Co. p. 61. ISBN 978-81-7534-999-5.
  13. ^ "It's legal to watch porn in the privacy of your house, says SC". Hindustan Times. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Banned: Complete list of 857 porn websites blocked in India". Deccan Chronicle. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  15. ^ "India lifts porn ban after widespread outrage". BBC News. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  16. ^ "SC asks Centre to suggest measures to ban child pornography". Deccan Chronicle. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Ban porn sites or lose license: High Court to ISPs". India Today. India Today. 28 September 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ a b Mohit Singh (10 July 2015). "Kamlesh Vaswani v. Union of India & Ors. (Pornography ban matter)". 1, Law Street. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s). 177/2013" (PDF). Supreme Court of India. 26 February 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Suo Motu W.P.(Crl.)No(s).3/2015" (PDF). Supreme Court of India. 27 February 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 November 2018.
  22. ^ Abraham, L. (2001). Redrawing the Lakshman rekha: Gender differences and cultural constructions in youth sexuality in urban India. South Asia, 24, 133–156.
  23. ^ Khomami, Nadia (5 August 2015). "India lifts ban on internet pornography after criticism". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  24. ^ "Everything you wanted to know about how India watches porn in one map and five charts". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  25. ^ 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
  26. ^ Kutchinsky, Berl (1973). "The Effect of Easy Availability of Pornography on the Incidence of Sex Crimes: The Danish Experience". Journal of Social Issues. 29 (3): 163–181. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1973.tb00094.x. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  27. ^ Diamond, Milton; Uchiyama, Ayako (1999). "Pornography, rape, and sex crimes in Japan". International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. 22 (1): 1–22. doi:10.1016/S0160-2527(98)00035-1. PMID 10086287. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  28. ^ Diamond, Milton; Jozifkova, Eva; Weiss, Petr (2011). "Pornography and sex crimes in the Czech Republic". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 40 (5): 1037–1050. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9696-y. PMID 21116701. S2CID 19381087. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ 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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