Portions of this article are originally posted on The Times of India. 4 minute read.
Trigger warning: The following post contains descriptions of distressing abusive situations.
A group of men has surrounded a cowering schoolgirl in a sugarcane field somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. Her folded hands are shaking and her eyes are wide open with terror. She looks around desperately, hoping against hope for someone to save her. But her cries don’t reach anyone. Someone can be heard laughing in the background. And then one of the goons pounces on her.
For some, it’s unimaginable that anyone’s actual assault would end up online, consumed by thousands as an arousing or entertaining video clip. But that’s the story of so many people around the world, including countless people in Uttar Pradesh, India, most notably known as the home of the Taj Majal.
The Times of India (TOI) reports that shops are selling hundreds, perhaps thousands, of real-life rape videos every day across Uttar Pradesh. This is happening right under the nose of the police and the government. Depending on the “exclusivity” of the clips, which range from 30 seconds to even five minutes long, they are priced anywhere from 50 to 150 Rupees, which is about $.75 to $2.25.
According to reports, it’s still “under the counter” and dealers will talk only to those who’ve come armed with a trusted customer’s “reference,” but it is open and rampant.
Real rape tapes for sale
“Porn is passe. These real-life crimes are the rage,” said a shopkeeper at Agra’s market. “Dealers will download videos directly into your smartphone or put them in your pen drive.”
Sometimes individuals or organized gangs download such stuff from Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook accounts and sell them. Sometimes, however, culprits involved in rapes or assaults take videos of the crime themselves and post them online.
“It is a matter of time before they go viral,” said a shopkeeper in Agra’s market in the TOI report.
At another shop, a man is telling teenagers that they might even know the girl in the “latest, hottest” video. In the horrifying clip, two men have pinned down a girl, who looks like she is in her early 20’s. Her boyfriend is being beaten up and crying, “Spare me,” in Hindi. The girl pleads in Hindi, “At least don’t shoot a video.”
A senior cop told TOI that rapists almost always record the crime on their phones, which they then use as a blackmailing tool to either bully the victims, which stops them from going to the cops or to further pressure them into sexual submission.
“A threat to post the rape online is very potent,” the cop said. Sources in the police said it would be close to impossible to put an end to the trend.
Recently, as a TOI team visited markets around Agra and a few other areas, and found that such videos were easily available. It’s the same story in other cities across India, where not long ago a 21-year-old committed suicide when she found videos of her online and someone began selling her nude pictures to local residents at 3 Rupees per print.
“Pain porn” is in
This is beyond extremely disturbing.
While it’s impossible to say for certain exactly why these things are happening, it could be that the rising popularity of hardcore genres of porn are skewing people’s perception of what’s acceptable. The popularity of internet porn in our generation has created a massive porn culture in society.
For example, a recent national survey asked participants what type of images they considered to be “wrong” in porn. Among the 1,188 people surveyed, 46% of those who use porn replied that images of “sexual acts that may be forced or painful” are not “wrong.” Yes, you read that correctly. Almost half of porn consumers think pain and abuse in pornography is acceptable. Even further, only 50% of teens and young adults surveyed (ages 13 to 25) think it is unhealthy to consume violent porn.
The lines are blurring between what’s sexy and what’s downright abuse in today’s porn. One has to look no further than any major porn site to see how porn has gotten increasingly violent and demeaning.
These popular porn categories include terms like “facial abuse,” “teen crying,” and “extreme brutal gang bang.” What happens if those actors aren’t actually acting at all? What if some of those videos online are exactly what’s been described above—real life, real rape, real assault. These are all very serious crimes, and yet, there are entire sites and storefronts dedicated to fetishizing the pain and suffering of other people. Some of the abuse in professional porn, undoubtedly, is real. This is not healthy. But this is where we are.
The escalation of porn habits
“When I went to college, I had unlimited and unchecked internet access for the first time ever. I started by watching films in which I knew there would be simulated sex and progressed to soft core pornography. That worked for a while…until it didn’t.
That’s when I searched for the hardcore stuff… After a while, the hardcore stuff became boring, scripted, routine.
When the hardcore stuff stopped doing it for me, I started to search for simulated rape videos. When they ran their course, I tried to find actual rape videos. I would think about porn all the time. When I was in class, all I could think was that I couldn’t wait to go home and go back watching porn. It consumed me completely.”
Studies show that the more someone consumes porn, over time and frequent consumption, the more they’re likely to gravitate towards hardcore genres to achieve the same levels of excitement. These effects on the brain are what cause so many porn consumers to think that pain in porn is exciting, even a “fantasy”—their brains and sexual preferences have been changed by repeated porn consumption to find pain arousing to consume.
The pornography industry is well aware of these facts. This is why they are constantly making more porn, more abusive porn, and harder versions of porn. Pain has become mainstream. They understand porn’s escalating effects on the brain and use it to their advantage.
Stop the demand for normalized abuse
This has massively negative implications on our society, and we’re seeing the effects firsthand. This is what happens when we become complacent to the abuse and exploitation of people marketed as entertainment and arousal.
With the normalization of pain porn and rape fantasy, it’s possible our society is being conditioned to mimic what is popular/acceptable online. If there’s anything to be learned from these real-life stories, it’s that this probably happens more than we’d like to believe, and it will only get worse if we don’t fight against porn and speak out for love.