Is Easy Access To Pornography Cause Of Increase In Rapes?

Harsh Sanghavi Comment On Rape

The Ministers in India are infamous for attributing increasing cases of rapes to anything they can think of: from women’s clothing to food. There’s no dearth of such comments and the latest to join the bandwagon is Gujarat’s Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi.

Sanghavi was quoted as saying that the leading cause of rapes in India is easy to access to pornographic videos on mobile phones. Basing his comment on a “recent survey”, Gujarat Home Minister said that mobile phones and known people committing crimes were major reasons for the high incidence of rapes in India.

Harsh Sanghavi Comment on Rape

“We always blame the police for rape incidents. But such incidents are a blot on society. We cannot only blame the police for such incidents. Gujarat is the safest in our country. When a father rapes his small daughter, is this not a huge social issue? If a father rapes his daughter, the reason is his mobile phone,” the Minister said.

Does consumption of porn lead to rapes?

Consumption of pornographic videos has been time and again attributed to being one of the reasons crimes against women are rising. Although it is very easy to correlate the two; experts have opined that one needs to be cautious while doing so.

A study was conducted in India which compared pre-liberalization and post-liberalization growth of rape rates and its positive correlation with the number of internet users. While the study found out that the growth of rape rates was not as significant, there were statistically significant positive correlations between the number of internet users and sexual crime rates.

But it was concluded that it can not be clearly determined whether easy access to porn did cause growth in crimes against women due to various factors like underreporting of crime, unavailability of data regarding users accessing porn, etc.

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Roger Ingham, a professor of health and community psychology and director of the Centre for Sexual Health Research at the University of Southampton, also pointed out that. Ingham said that even if perpetrators do watch porn, it would be difficult to determine whether it was to blame.  “It could be, for example, that those who are more inclined to commit ‘offences’ are also more likely to access porn, so a correlation between the two cannot be assumed to indicate direct cause,” he added.

Ingham said that there will always be a proportion of people with serious issues in maintaining responsible and respectful social interactions. He added that it would be “very naïve” to attribute negative behaviours to just a singular factor like access to porn.

Indeed, pornographic content available at large perpetrates objectification of women, it undermines the consent of women. There are many indirect links as such which establish porn fuels crimes against women but no direct link has been ascertained yet.

One glance at the indirect links makes it amply clear that linking access to porn being a leading cause of rape is just our short-sightedness; we simply don’t look at the larger systematic issue: patriarchy. It is because of patriarchal thoughts that not only ascribe women’s status as a second-class citizen but also place high standards on them to uphold and sexualises their body. Moreover, society conveniently has always placed blame on either the survivors, or assassinate their characters while the perpetrator was never questioned on what made him think it was right to touch a woman without her consent.

When we conclude that watching porn leads to more cases of rapes, and sexual harassment, we fail to recognise how we as a society have trivialised sex education. It is important to teach young generations what is acceptable sexual behaviour and what isn’t because for many it is through porn that they learn about sex which again indirectly contributes to a negative image of what sex should look like.

It’s 2022 and instead of blaming things like women’s clothes, food or “easy access to porn”, we should introspect and rectify the systematic issue and take appropriate measures to curb crime against women.