Speaking on the porn ban in India, the Telecom & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said,

“Although porn is legal in other countries, it needs to be viewed in the context of Indian culture and moral obligation towards society.”

I wonder what Indian culture he is referring to. The culture that blames women for being victims of sexual violence or the culture that tells us that “boys will be boys” so we must lock up our women lest some man on the streets with an uncontrollable libido molests them or is it the culture where elected members of the national legislature are caught watching porn when the parliament is in session but now want to ban it because they want to “uphold Indian culture and morality”.

Or perhaps, it is a culture that where we are afraid to confront the patriarchal attitudes that are perpetuating dangerously wrong ideas about consent and sexual violence. Perhaps Indian culture is really rape culture.

A meme circulated on social media and WhatsApp groups after the news on porn ban in India reads “Next Ban Idea. Ban those girls who say, I like you but tumhe kabhi us nazar se dekha nahin.”  I was told it’s a joke, a joke on the (completely mythical) concept of friend-zone where boys simply can’t get a girl to like them despite being very nice to her.

Next Ban Idea. Ban those girls who say, I like you but tumhe kabhi us nazar se dekha nahin.
Credit: Quickmeme.com

This “joke” is telling a large number of people out there that women ought to like you out of some twisted moral obligation because you were nice to her. And those who tell you or express otherwise should be banned. This joke is a manifestation of rape culture.

For decades this country has waged wars on women’s bodies, as victims of brutal rapes during riots & caste based/communal violence, as teenage mothers forced to marry the rapist who impregnated her, as targets of a sterilisation programme where poor women’s bodies are violated without consent, as doubly disabled citizens because of their lower caste and gender in a caste culture that ignores the struggles of a dalit woman, as a “burden” on the family married off before she hits puberty and as dutiful wives silenced by matrimony because we are taught that the husband has an absolute right over your body.

This ban which seems to be in line with the thinking that porn somehow perpetuates sexual violence is lip service to resolving the issues of violence against women and can only appeal to the morality of the misogynistic Indian who doesn’t want to recognize the entrenched rape culture in our society.

The only moral obligation to society that the government ought to be focusing on is the destruction of rape culture and ending this culture of silence surrounding sex. Invest in integrating gender sensitisation with primary education. Provide comprehensive sex education so children don’t have to rely on porn to learn about their bodies and sex.

End this cycle of victim blaming and saying “boys will be boys”. We are not only taking away a woman’s agency over her freedom and body but are also insulting the full human capacities of men by saying that they are somehow incapable of controlling their carnal desires.

Start confronting the system. When someone sends you a rape joke, question them. Question why they think it is funny. Let’s invoke our collective conscience and think about the consequences of what we share. Do these jokes have an underlying message stemming from & perpetuating rape culture and eroding the concept of consent? Speak up! Only once we start questioning such actions and engaging our collective minds in a conversation about these things that subtly promote rape culture can we truly begin to end this long silence on the real cause of sexual violence.

Featured Image Credit: DollsOfIndia.com

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