Pawns in the porn game

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Despite the mounting concerns about child pornography, the govt has forgotten amateur sex videos, which prey on young women. Why aren’t ISPs being criminally charged for giving access to them?

By Abhay Vaidya


What is the nature, if not criminal, of YouTube amateur sex vi-deos such as Mumbai College Girl MMS Scandal 2013 (with 6.14 lakh views) or Hot Indian Sexy Young Lady Sex with Boyfriend (with 3.9 million views)? There are thousands of such vi-deos available to porn consumers in India, such as Indian College girl hot sexy scandal in classroom, Indian Girls Hostel Video Leaked and Medical College Ragging, all of which ought to be pursued by the police, booked and banned outright.
These videos are not sophisticated por-nography produced by a well-regulated
industry as in the US, but amount to acts of crime. In some cases, their presence in a mass medium like the internet has even led to suicides by young girls.

VULNERABLE WOMEN
Unfortunately, it was sex videos such as these that remained hidden from the public glare during a recent debate on the right to pornography in the privacy of our homes. What did not come into focus was the vulnerability of minors and young women who were filmed secretly by mobile phone cameras, spycams and webcams.
Porn websites, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecom companies generate high revenue through the popularity of such sex videos which are consumed voraciously on the mobile phone platform and the computer network. They may not fall in the category of child porn. Nevertheless, these videos are of a criminal nature because they have been shot or uploaded without consent. Why aren’t ISPs being charged with criminal conduct for providing access to such videos?
It is not surprising that there is a wider audience for porn now. When a woman pens a signed essay in a popular Marathi newspaper under the headline: “I watch porn. What about you?”, we know that the nation has come a long way on the porn expressway.

GROWING ACCEPTANCE?
This was amply clear in the heated debates on TV and social media in August, when the right to pornography in the privacy of homes was discussed. There can now be no turning back in terms of a blanket ban on pornography in India. This was realized by a chastened Narendra Modi government. Not surprisingly, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi made all the right noises before the Supreme Court during a hearing on August 10.

Rohatgi clarified the government’s stand before a bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu and said India cannot be a totalitarian state and the government’s intention was only to ban child pornography. He acknowledged that “pornography is a grey area without any straight answers” and if people want to watch it in the confines of their home, there was no way that the government could stop it.
The government also did not want to do moral policing, Rohatgi said, and added in the same breath that there were issues relating to the freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 19 (1)(a) of the constitution which need to be respected.

The government has already withdrawn its order banning 857 pornographic websites and has assured that a mechanism would
be worked out between ISPs and the Department of Telecommunications to ban child pornography. But is also high time the government tackles the menace of young girls and women being filmed secretly. This has been growing by leaps and bounds across India, especially in villages and small towns, where people are clearly not as smart as their smart phones.

MODUS OPERANDI
These short videos are done during tender private moments by unscrupulous “boy-friends” and others to blackmail the girls later. While these videos of women in various stages of undress or sexual acts don’t fall in the category of “child pornography”, they are of a criminal nature as they have been shot and uploaded without consent and invade the modesty and privacy of innocent victims. These include the Delhi schoolgirl MMS, which has inspired filmmakers in Bollywood.
drishyam

Dev D

Drishyam (top) and DevD (above) are among the movies based on MMS scandals

These videos are remotely operated, and are shot during intimacy with a partner, in rest rooms, changing rooms, hotel rooms and trial rooms. One old man, who was arrested in Pune some years ago, had installed spycams in various rooms of a flat that he had rented out exclusively to college girls.

Much of this sexual material is generated in the form of “revenge porn” by ex-lovers, with the intention of destroying the lives of young women.
“You never know where the pinhole cameras could be hidden—they have been found behind mirrors in hotel rooms and typically, near electrical fittings. The safest thing for women to do is to ensure minimum lighting while undressing or during intimate moments,” says cyber-security expert Capt Raghu Raman.

THRIVING MARKET
Clearly, just as prostitution exists because there’s a thriving market for it, so do these clandestinely shot videos which are shown by porn sites and made available by ISPs on various platforms, including mobile ones. Porn sites solicit them on the internet itself, with attractive payment terms, thereby encouraging what could already be an organized crime.

However, these illegally produced sex videos can’t be banned because they don’t necessarily constitute child pornography. They are of a criminal nature but just a fraction of cases get reported and acted upon by the police.

One way to deal with this is to create mass awareness among school-going girls. They need to be counseled to be extra cautious about being secretly filmed in their private moments. Also, people engaging in such criminal activities need to be identified and booked by the police in large numbers.

The most important step, however, is to demand that ISPs and telecom companies refuse to provide access to such sex videos. They are partnering in a criminal activity with producers of porn and other websites and platforms such as YouTube.

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