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In March 2011, the Indian government blocked Savita Bhabhi, an immensely popular soft-core web comic, sparking popular outcry.
The website, which until recently attracted up to 60 million visitors a month, features a promiscuous Indian housewife named Savita Patel. Her nickname, Bhabhi, is a term of endearment for an elder sister-in-law.
In the story Savita plays the role of the dutiful wife, but while her husband is away she begins to explore her sexuality, engaging in a wide range of erotic acts. Her sensual exploits and tremendous popularity have earned her the unofficial title of India’s first porn star.
As the APC has written about in EroTICS, the internet acts as an important tool and resource for Indians, particularly women, to learn about their sexuality and experiment online. From sexual education to flirting in chat rooms, the internet opens up new possibilities for young Indians to explore this aspect of themselves, a task made particularly difficult in the notoriously conservative Indian society.
The case of Savita Bhabhi highlights the troubling trend of internet censorship in India. While the Indian constitution guarantees free speech, it carries certain restrictions with regards to “obscenity”. This latest blocking has generated significant criticism of the government’s internet policies.