Porn. Panic. Ban A conversation about sexual expression, pornography, sexual exploitation, consent

Point of View and the Internet Democracy Project are organising a conference in order to hold and facilitate an informed conversation on sexual expression, pornography, sexual exploitation and consent. This conference is a first attempt to have an in-depth civil society conversation – among activists, lawyers, researchers working on either gender, sexuality or internet rights, or at their intersections. It will take place on 28-29 October in Delhi.

BACKGROUND

We believe it is the right time to have a national conversation on these related issues given recent and emerging policy trends.

  • The Indian government, which blocked 857 porn sites in early August, is currently considering two petitions to ban online porn. The last Supreme Court hearing on this took place on 10 August.

  • The legal definition of ‘sexual exploitation’ may be expanded to include sexualized images of women offline and online and to re-interpret sexual trafficking. The Supreme Court has asked the Indian government to detail its stand on this by 13 October.

  • In 2013, a parliamentary committee discussed the need to enlarge the scope of the Indecent Representation Act, 1986 to bring new forms of communication like the internet and mobile etc within the ambit of the Act.

As gender, sexuality or digital rights activists, many of us have been discussing these related issues in smaller groups. Some of us have made submissions to the Rajya Sabha against banning online pornography. Some of us are conducting research to better understand these issues.

But we have yet to have a cross-movement dialogue around these issues. We have yet to develop a collective voice that articulates our realities, positions and concerns. We may aspire to change the conversation around these issues, but our voice is missing, invisible or not adequately heard in the public, policy and legal discourses surrounding them.

This conference is a first attempt to have an indepth civil society conversation – among activists, lawyers, researchers working on either gender, sexuality or internet rights, or at their intersections.

AGENDA

Day 1 – Wednesday, 28th October 2015

9-9.30               Who Why What Why now? (Introductions, Objectives, Agenda)

9.30-10.30        Keynote: Porn Again! The Thrills and Threats of a Fugitive Genre

                           Shohini Ghosh, Sajjad Zaheer Professor of Media

                           AJK Mass Communication Research Center, Jamia Millia Islamia

10.30-11           Tea & coffee

11-12                ‘Memory dekhna hai kya?’: Sexual Expression in the Digital Age

                        Panel (30 minutes – 5 minutes each)

                        Shals Mahajan, LABIA, queer feminist & writer

                        Prabha Nagaraja, TARSHI, sexual and reproductive rights activist

                        Nidhi Goyal, POV/CREA, gender & disability rights activist

                        Meena Seshu, SANGRAM, sex workers’ rights activist

                        Avantika Mehta, The Hindustan Times, journalist

                        Jaya Sharma, Kinky Collective, queer feminist & BDSM community member

                     Discussion

12-1.15            The Legit and the Illegit: The Contours of Sexual Expression

                        Panel (35 minutes – 7 minutes each)

                         Kalki Subramaniam, Sahodari, on transbodies, programmed images, sexual exploitation

                          Nayantara Ranganathan, Internet Democracy Project, on private censorship

                          Smita Vanniyar, Point of View, on how platforms treat sex ex as gendered

                          Siddharth Narain, SARAI, on online hate speech related to gender/sexuality

                          Rohini Lakshane, Centre for Internet & Society, on amateur porn

                        Discussion

1.15-2.15           Lunch

2.15-3               The Faultlines of Consent

                         Real Net Natives, a 15-minute video by Aritra Bhattacharya for CCDS

                         A Short History of Consent, a 10-minute visual walkthrough by Bishakha Datta, POV

                         Discussion

 3-3.30               The Imagined, the Perceived and the Real: Where is the harm?

                           Group work (30 minutes)

3.30-4               Tea & coffee (in groups, if needed)

4-4.45               Report back (30 minutes) Discussion

4.45-5.30        Sexual Expression in the Law: What does it mean?

                         MS Nappinai, Technology Law Forum/Supreme Court Bar Association

                         Responses: Namita Malhotra, Alternative Law Forum/Amba Salelkar, Equal Centre for Promotion of Social Justice

 Day 2 – Thursday, 29th October 2015

9-9.30           Recap refresh: key points from yesterday, flagging unfinished agendas    

9.30-10.15    Keynote: Digital Manipulation: Selves, Selfies and Sunny Leone

                      Paromita Vohra, ParoDevi Pictures, filmmaker, writer and columnist

                      Discussion

10.15-11       Children, Sexuality, Abuse and Expression

                    Panel (30 minutes – 15 minutes each)

                    Vidya Reddy, Tulir Centre for the Prevention & Healing of Child Sexual Abuse

                    Anuja Gupta, RAHI Foundation

                      Discussion

11-11.30        Tea & coffee

11.30-1.30    Laws, Lives and Expression

                    Panel (15-20 minutes per speaker with questions after each)

                    Anja Kovacs, Internet Democracy Project, on summary of objections to porn ban

                    Debarati Halder, CCVCC, on Indecent Representation of Women Act

                    Aarthi Pai, CASAM, on bid to define sexual exploitation

                    Flavia Agnes, Majlis, on related legislative and judicial patterns

1.30-2.30      Lunch

2.30-3          Video: It’s Time For Porn To Change (TEDx Talk by Erika Lust, 12 mins)

                      Video: Krutch (Experimental short film by Clark Matthews, 4 minutes

                      Video: Make Love, Not Porn (TEDx Talk by Cindy Gallop, 4 minutes

3-3.45          Defrocking the Law

                    Namita Malhotra, ALF, on defining/understanding obscenity – 5 minutes

                    The Prurient, the Explicit, and the Private

                    An exploratory study on Section 67, 67A and 66E of the IT Act – 20 minutes

                    Bishakha Datta, Jasmine Lovely George, Smita Vanniyar, Arpita Bhagat (P

                    Discussion

3.30-4           Tea & coffee

4-4.45           Group work on key takeaways/principles

4.45-5           Report back

5-5.30           Next steps, way forward, wrap up

 

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