Is porn addiction on the rise in Bangalore? Therapist Rajan B Bhonsle

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Jan 19, 2014, 12.00 AM IST

Karnataka is said to be ranked third when it comes to viewing pornography. TOI explores...

IT professional Amit Singh, 33, (name changed) lives the good life. He earns well, has a good circle of friends and a loving family. But he stood to lose this all to an addiction. Amit started viewing pornography in his early 20s out of sheer curiosity.

Around two years ago, his behaviour started to change. The normally social man began distancing himself from his friends. He became withdrawn and his wife would find him on his laptop on most nights. Initially, she suspected Amit of having an affair, but after looking at his browser history one day, she realized that his habit of watching porn had consumed him.

"I had become extremely withdrawn. I didn't think addiction was even possible. I would stay up all night to watch porn and I had even started viewing it at work. This started affecting my work. I didn't feel like going out and started distancing myself from my family as well," says Amit, who, with professional help, has been able to deal with his addiction.

With 199 cases booked under the Information Technology Act, 2000, in the last three years, Karnataka ranks third in the country when it comes to viewing pornography. While the actual number may be much higher, the fact is that more and more people are getting hooked to porn.

Ali Khwaja, an educationist, attributes this to the ease with which people can access porn. "With the internet making its way into phones, people now don't even care about who is sitting next to them. A case in point is that of the MLAs viewing porn in the Karnataka Assembly," says Ali, who has observed that a growing number of middle-aged men are getting addicted to pornography. While one may expect such men to have a roaring sex life, the opposite is true. According to Ali, addicts are unable to have sex with their wives, and can only perform if they watch porn. What's worse is that they can become aggressive and, at times, this leads to violence.

"Everyone who watches porn is not at a risk of becoming an addict. Those that watch regular acts of sex are less likely to get hooked, but if a person enjoys watching deviant sex, then there is a higher risk of becoming an addict. This is an indication of a minor mental illness, and if left unchecked, it can result in criminal activity," says Ali.

Counsellor Rajan B Bhonsle sees couples whose relationships are on the brink of ending at least once a month because one partner is addicted to pornography. But can this be termed an illness? "All addictions are illnesses. Addicts have a compelling urge to indulge in a particular act or substance, which affects their everyday life and makes them dysfunctional. Porn also falls in this category," says Rajan.

Porn addiction is rampant today. More and more disturbed parents and spouses have been seeking help, and there is even a growing concern in schools. Rajan remembers how on a trip to a small town in Assam, teachers told him that they were worried because many of their students were addicted to porn.

"If addiction can be so high in a small town where access to internet is not as easy, imagine what the numbers in a big metropolis will be," adds Rajan. In India, there is no scientific study yet on the access of pornography on mobile phones. Supreme Court advocate and cyber law expert Pavan Duggal believes that this corrupts young minds who can easily view this content. "The law has not done much to prevent this. In fact, the IT Act has done a huge disservice. Publishing porn, which used to be a non-bailable offence, is now a bailable one. Pornography is not high on the priority of law enforcement agencies," says Pavan, who believes that concrete changes are required to curb access to porn.

"The Indian cyber law needs to be amended and made more effective to curb access, use, transmission and publishing of porn. Also, cyber education and etiquette need to be inculcated in school curriculum to sensitize children about the huge porn content available and how they should protect themselves from it," he adds.

Signs of addiction - People who are addicted have a secret life and spend unusually long hours in privacy
- Their work gets affected and productivity decreases
- They stay up all night and look tired and sleepy throughout the day
- Social life of addicts gets hit as they rarely go out and meet people
- They have a low libido