• Sun
  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 9:30pm
NewsAsia
INDIA

Rape crisis in India leads to calls for porn star Sunny Leone to be jailed

India's sex crimes toll sparks campaign to ban explicit material and puts actress in firing line

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 3:12am

Indo-Canadian porn star Sunny Leone has happily reinvented herself as a Bollywood actress.

But while her past pursuits have been no barrier, being linked to India's rape crisis represents a new challenge.

The 31-year-old became one of the most searched names on the internet in India when she arrived in 2011 to appear in a reality TV series and has since taken racy roles in mainstream movies.

As India casts around for reasons to explain a series of horrifying sex crimes - the latest being the kidnap and brutal rape of a five-year-old girl - pornography is under scrutiny and has led some to call for Leone to be jailed.

Recent events have galvanised anti-porn campaigners after it was revealed by police sources that the suspects in the rape of the five-year-old had watched explicit material before the crime.

Supposedly aroused by video clips on their mobile phones, they allegedly abducted the girl in a working class area in eastern New Delhi and drunkenly raped her so violently she was left with life-threatening injuries.

The pornography claims coincide with a separate legal effort in the Supreme Court to introduce an outright ban on such material in India.

"Our children are accessing more and more graphic and brutal videos and they are imitating them and we are suffering," said Kamlesh Vaswani, a commercial lawyer who has petitioned the Supreme Court to demand a ban.

"Our laws are very vague in this area so it can be corrected in the Supreme Court," he said ahead of the next hearing in the case set for Monday.

He blames Leone, the star of X-rated hits including Sunny's Slumber Party, for bringing adult material in India to a wider audience.

"She deserves to go to jail if she continues to promote pornography," he added.

Two Indian laws already outlaw the distribution or creation of obscene material, with the Information Technology Act (2000) prescribing up to five years in jail for anyone caught publishing "lascivious" material.

But as most of the pornography accessed in India is on sites outside the jurisdiction of prosecutors and viewed in the privacy of homes or on mobile phones, convictions are rare and the restrictions are rendered largely meaningless.

"It is technically possible to ban it," said Vaswani, 41. "They need to have some expert help from the IT sector."

Appearing in a debate on Monday night on the Headlines Today news channel, Leone defended her dual career as porn star and actress and dismissed fears that adult material was linked to sex crime.

"Pornography is not for people who think it's for real. It's fantasy and it's entertainment," she said. "It's complete nonsense to blame rape on adult material out there. Education starts at home.

"It's mums and dads sitting with their children and teaching them what is right and wrong."

Share

Related topics

Login

SCMP.com Account

or