Porn Ban in Nepal
Will it Solve the Problem?
I’m writing this piece almost after a year of porn-ban pushed by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in Nepal. As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, I stumbled upon a clip of a debate where minister of communication and information technology, who is also a spokesperson for the government, was vehemently opposing the access to free porn in the garb of ethics, culture, discipline, societal norms and possible sexual crimes etc., which I found utterly ridiculous.
On the pretext of banning porn, Nepal Government claimed that the premise for the ban was the article 121 of the Criminal Code of 2074, which states that “the internet has made it easy to access sexually obscene materials, disrupted the social values and beliefs of Nepali society and is thus encouraging sexual violence and harmful practices.”
It is pretty evident that the extremely unfortunate incident of the rape and murder of Nirmala raised so many eyebrows, shook us all from our core (literally petrified us all) and the government only tried to divert the attention by banning porn to hide its inaction. It is so scary and disheartening that the perpetrators of such a heinous crime are still roaming scot-free. Impunity has been so rampant in the disguise of political protection and undue pressure; and the government tries to do a quick fix by diversionary tactics instead of nabbing and slapping those monsters with the harshest punishments.
Let’s dissect this issue from all possible angles to ascertain if this decision of government’s really helps in achieving what it claims so far.
First of all, ‘banning porn’ is like trying to stop the rain from pouring by carrying an umbrella in your hand. It is NOT POSSIBLE in today’s time. Technologically speaking- Mirror sites, VPN, Proxy sites are some basic alternatives which defuse the fundamental premise of such so-called bans. Moreover, one third of the internet is filled with porn entering millions of new sites into the web every day. Despite being the most progressive country in south Asian region in championing the rights of sexual minorities such as LGBTQ, it is a shame that porn has been banned because two moves are quite paradoxical. The protectionist, moralist, reactionary and conservative and savior kind of behavior of the government is unacceptable. Let’s not shy away from the fact that sex is biological need and everyone desires to fulfill this need after certain age. Anything that’s abused or overused has some ramifications for sure. And, the most stupid thing is to ban anything as a measure of deterrence. The more you suppress anything, the scenario will be worse. As OSHO points out- Neither indulge, nor escape. Just awaken yourself.
The basic argument for the ban by the government is to STOP sex-related crimes. However, there is NO DEFINITIVE proof of it yet if we see any empirical research carried out by other countries. Some other arguments would be to stop sex-addiction, perverted behavior and obscenity. The moral, ethical and disciplinary remedy that is often prescribed to deter any sexual crime has failed miserably in this society and we MUST look at this issue from the fundamental dimension. In my opinion, suppression caused by utter ignorance and pseudo-morality is the major reason for the heinous crimes like rape, sex-trafficking, molestation, sexual abuse etc. in the society. As Sadhguru says, “Sex in the level of body is sacred and it becomes evil once it gets into your head”.
Social values and norms have always been used as a scapegoat to simply enforce an orthodox idea.
We have a democracy in this country and the government cannot dictate our eating, sleeping, watching or wearing habits carried out well within our right to privacy and right to freedom. Our constitution has granted us the right to information and freedom of expression and it is so ironic that government is doing just the opposite by being a moral police in this case. Another logic of the government is obscenity which does not stand its ground since it’s not yet been defined legally, socially and otherwise.
I suggest the following possible solution to the problem and the onus is on all of us. However, the policy change can only be initiated by the government.
1. Empower people of all genders through education, awareness, and sensitization: Since knowledge is empowerment, we must impart knowledge of sex via various mediums including internet and online education. The discrimination against sexual minorities should be immediately stopped since sex-orientation is basically determined by hormones, NOT by the genitalia.
Leslee Udwin’s documentary namely “India’s daughters” is the biggest testimony as why and how such sexual crimes happen in our society. The reason is obvious as I pointed out- sheer lack of education!
2. Legalize brothel: This is an outlet to repression and suppression of sex for anybody who has the hunger of sex. The learning of fulfillment of sexual desire legally and properly can have very big impact in preventing sexual misconduct and crime. However, government must regularize it strictly keeping all measures to keep people safe and healthy.
3. De-stigmatization of survivors (sexual victims): The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey, 2018 finds our country to be the most dangerous for a woman. Especially girls are often stigmatized after they survive any such violence which can only go through education and awareness. Patriarchal structure of our society also adds the fuel to it.
4. Openness about sex education in family, school and society: The taboo associated with sex must be done away with. Family members should have an open discussion about its precaution, possible ramifications and harm. Once a child reaches one’s adolescence, one becomes slightly skewed or misguided due to hormonal highjack and societal orthodox moralist treatment adds salt to the wound. So, openness would guide one to navigate a way through it.
5. Strictest punishment to the perpetrators: All the culprits MUST be punished without any political patronage. Impunity has been the biggest stumbling block to any possible solution in our country.
The fundamental approach to sex has to be changed. Open discussion on sex education is very important in our society today. The audacity of the sexual predators or pedophiles are even more heightened due to the silence of the victims or survivors; and, the silence is caused by the stigma attached to it due to societal structure. There is deep-seated fear in the minds of those who are subjected to such harm and abuse.
As I researched and dug into the government’s website to see if they have any substantial hardcore evidence of data to show in the decline of sexual violence over one year period, I could not find any such thing.
Writer: Binod Acharya
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