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In India, watching or possessing pornographic material 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 publicationEdit


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 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 pornographyEdit

Prior to the explosion of the internet, soft-core pornographic movies were popularly consumed in India.[8]


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 Indian Penal Code, 1860 section 293 also makes the sale of obscene objects to minors illegal.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) section 67 Government of India specifies that, the transmission of online pornography through any electronic medium is a punishable offence.

Section 67A of IT Act details punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit acts. This section also includes "causes to be published" and prohibits Internet Service Providers from transmitting adult content.[10] But no ISP blocks adult content on their own. They prefer to invoke Section 79 3(B), to block only on the direction of the government. ISPs insist on a list of websites common for all ISPs. [11]

Govt provided such a list of 857 websites and ISPs blocked them for 5-days in 2015, from 1-August till 5-August.[12] Due to huge loss of revenue to ISPs[13], govt softened its stance and instructed to block only child pornography.[14]

Section 67B of IT Act criminalises child pornography including browsing, downloading, creation, and publishing 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 10 lakh fine.[15]

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.

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.

In Oct 2018, Internet Service Providers of India banned popular porn websites as per the directions of Uttarakhand High Court which imposed a strict ban on pornographic websites[16].

Judicial opinionEdit

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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[18]

On 26 January 2016, the Supreme Court has asked the government to block websites having child pornography and rape videos.[19]

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.[20]

Socio-cultural attitudesEdit

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.[21] 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.[22]

Homosexual pornographyEdit

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.[23] 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.[24] 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 workEdit

Some studies have speculated that pornography influences sex work in India.[25][26][27] For instance, one study of 555 female sex workers found that 45% self-reported pornographic influence driving clientele desire for anal sex.[26] 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.[27] The implications of such work is currently unclear for public health policy in India.

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ "Meet India's first porn star". Public Radio International. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  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. ^ "Section 67A in The Information Technology Act, 2000".
  11. ^ "Kamlesh Vaswani v. Union of India & Ors. (Pornography ban matter) - 1, Law Street". 10 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Banned: Complete list of 857 porn websites blocked in India". 4 August 2015.
  13. ^ Ghosh, Shauvik (4 August 2015). "Oops, Indian ISPs, telcos could lose 30-70% of data revenue because of porn ban".
  14. ^ "India lifts porn ban after outrage". 5 August 2015 – via
  15. ^ "Section 67B in The Information Technology Act, 2000".
  16. ^ DelhiSeptember 28, India Today Tech New; September 28, 2018UPDATED:; Ist, 2018 16:42. "Ban porn sites or lose license: High Court to ISPs". India Today. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ a b Mohit Singh (10 July 2015). "Kamlesh Vaswani v. Union of India & Ors. (Pornography ban matter)". 1, Law Street. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Abraham, L. (2001). Redrawing the Lakshman rekha: Gender differences and cultural constructions in youth sexuality in urban India. South Asia, 24, 133–156.
  22. ^ Khomami, Nadia (5 August 2015). "India lifts ban on internet pornography after criticism". Retrieved 12 November 2016 – via The Guardian.
  23. ^ "Everything you wanted to know about how India watches porn in one map and five charts". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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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