India Weighs Legalizing Child Pornography

Arnav Pratap Singh /
Arnav Pratap Singh /

India’s Supreme Court recently issued a perplexing ruling that could have significant impacts in India (and globally). The Supreme Court chose to reserve judgment on a lower court ruling that said downloading and viewing child porn is not a crime, but making it would be. In the interim, they have invited children’s rights advocates to submit their arguments on the matter.

Citing India’s Information Technology Act of 2000, charges can be brought against someone who “published, transmitted, and created material depicting children in sexually explicit act or conduct.” Then following a “careful reading of this provision does not make watching child pornography, per se, an offense.” Much the same, India’s Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act of 2012 prosecuted the creation of child porn but again left out anything about watching it.

With the defendant alleging the file was an automatic download on his mobile, and he did not forward it to anyone else, some have argued the only crime here was moral decay.

The court also issued a ruling about concern for the children themselves. “The Generation Z Children are grappling with this serious problem and instead of damning and punishing them, the society must be mature enough to properly advise and educate them and try to counsel them to get rid of that addiction. The education must start from the school level since exposure to adult material starts at that stage itself.”

For India, these are murky waters that should be crystal clear. As we know, in the US, it’s simply wrong as hell for children to make or observe such content. It’s morally repugnant, mentally abusive, and psychologically damaging. Thankfully, two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — the Just Rights for Children Alliance of Faridabad and the Bachpan Bachao Andolan Association of New Delhi filed the appeal quickly.