By Ila Ananya
The customs department in the Chennai airport has a ‘problem’.
Deccan Chronicle reports that in the last one year, the demand for sex toys, particularly sex toys meant for women, has almost doubled in two years. Apparently from 2014-15 the numbers were only at 169, jumping to 238 in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Now in the last year, the numbers are at 342. Oh the horror.
Quite hilariously, it seems like there’s fear all around. Officials have been quoted as referring to sex toys as “such things”, which they say are usually imported by middle aged men and women from well off families. But adding to this huge silence where not only sex toys, but also sex and pleasure are not talked about is, are the people buying them. Strangely enough, officials say that a lot of them give the addresses of people who work as their drivers and domestic help as the delivery address. Then they said that sex toys can cause depression and nervous disorders in the user. Convenient.
So it’s resulted in a not altogether unexpected response: the officials have been spending time calling up everyone ordering sex toys (it’s funny to even imagine the scene), slapping them with a fine of Rs 5,000 and giving them a warning. Why? Because they say it’s illegal. According to the Indian Penal Code, any book, drawing, figure or object “shall be deemed to be obscene” if it pushes for sexual thoughts or behaviour, and officials say that these are prohibited from import.
But it certainly seems like the laws in India are unclear about the sale of sex toys, which has only added to the hushed up conversations about sex and pleasure. Remember when Business Standard reported about IMbesharam was under the scanner for selling sex toys in 2015? They’d also reported that the concern is usually “related to the way these products are sold, showing suggestive pictures and graphic descriptions.” But most websites that sell sex toys within India say explicitly that the sale is not illegal. Considering all the terror sex toys seem to invoke, we’re guessing they all have lawyers on standby.
For now we’re also wondering where all the unclaimed imported sex toys go.