Har Har Mahadev: An App to Curb Sexual Violence developed in Banaras

A professor from Banaras Hindu University has recently designed an application to curb access to porn sites on smartphones which plays religious chants whenever the user tries to access these websites. Can such superficial steps be expected to address the question of sexual violence in a country like ours where patriarchy is the dominant social discourse?

Kavya Thomas | The New Leam

Dr. V.N. Mishra, who describes himself as also being a ‘social awakener’. Image Source : ANI/Twitter

 Sexual violence in India is not a new phenomenon that we are reckoning with.In fact today what we have brought ourselves today is the reputation of becoming the rape capital of the world. Be it local women or tourists India is perhaps one of the most unsafe and unfriendly countries as far as women are concerned. The extreme case of patriarchal hegemony in the country has meant that over the years not only have women been violated against but they have often felt scared to address these issues in public for the fear of being judged or socially boycotted. Yes, the greatest paradox has been that women have had to suffer the violence and simultaneously keep mum about it fearing social sanctions. It is not surprising that even today women are seen as instigators of rape, so she is the one who is often considered at fault for being raped.

Thus when we say that India is the rape capital of the world we must keep in mind the fact that many cases of violence against women continue to remain unreported and unacknowledged because of the fear that women face for social sanctions. Sexual violence against women is often said to be a consequence of the adoption of western cultural symbols and dressing styles among women by some proponents of anti-westernization brigade but upon any kind of careful scrutiny one realizes that this is only an extremely foolish argument. We have to understand that in a neo-liberal market oriented society the media, the market, the popular youth icons, the culture of commoditized existence and the culture of transforming the body into a mere gross, physical and sexual satisfaction seeking machine has impacted the way that both men and women look at each other and the society at large. Without questioning the very ethics, symbols and values that form part of the modern, market centric capitalistic world it is difficult for us to understand this crisis in our times. Surveillance mechanisms, compulsory dress codes, vigilant bodies for regulation or even legislations will take us nowhere if we do not work on the reconstruction of the dilapidated social fabric and the ethical foundations that it shall stand on.

It is not surprising given our own track record of founding superficial solutions to this grave problem that Indian neurologists have developed an application to cure a user of porn addiction that will play Hindu devotional songs, chant “Allahu Akbar” or recite speeches by Nelson Mandela when a user tries to open adult videos or porn sites online ,The application in question was developed by Vijay Nath Mishra, who is a professor of neurology at Banaras Hindu University. He thought that the application should be developed to challenge the growing problem among young patients whose behavioral problems he had been recording for some time now.

In its current version the application plays Hindu chants and prayers when the user tries to open adult or violent material, but Mishra said that as he aimed to widen its appeal they were going to incorporate prayers and devotional material from many religions from across the world to strike an appeal with a myriad of users. The app has been called the ‘Har Har Mahadev’. In 2015 there was a sudden ban in India of over 800 porn websites but the ban had to be later withdrawn due to backlash against undue censorship.

The idea of devising an application to curb down access to porn websites and then subsequently to control sexually explicit behavior is absurd.  What we need to remember is that unless we take cognizance of other matters we cannot do away with this behavior. The media induced symbols, cinema and the culture of consumption and all have together brought us to this situation we cannot expect that an application in isolation will prove to be a magic wand.

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