There are many ironies that contribute to the image of incredible India. One of the often-cited ones points out how in a country of well over a billion people, sex is a taboo. And certainly not a subject of conversation between parents and their teenage children. The fact that Goa's first offline sex toy store Kama Gizmo shut within two months of opening did not come as a surprise to many.
What the authorities say?
India's first sex toy store had opened this year on Valentine's Day in Goa. However, it's been shut down now after the head of the Calangute village panchayat ordered its closure citing 'lack of trade license.'
Dinesh Simepurushkar, the sarpanch of Calangute Village said they came to know of the store only after its details went viral on social media. He further said in an interview that every entity setting up shop in the panchayat's jurisdiction has to acquire a trade license and that Kama Gizmo did not have it. The sarpanch also admitted to having received several complaints regarding the store and how people raised questions about its moral implications, cultural ramifications and legality.
What the owners say?
However, Prawin Ganeshan, one of the partners, has said on board that the real issues run much deeper than that. He also said they did not encounter similar problems in other cities. The shop, whose signage was also brought down, is a joint venture between KamaKart and the Gizmoswala. The owners are hopeful of restarting the store within a month.
What the law says?
As per Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure or any other object will be obscene if it is lascivious, appeals to the prurient interest or tends to deprave and corrupt the minds of persons. The section also prohibits and penalises, "the sale, public exhibition, distribution, import and export of any such obscene objects."
The wrongdoer can be punished with imprisonment up to five years and a fine of up to Rs 5,000. But Ganeshan has said repeatedly that they display no nudity and obscenity in the store.
Meanwhile, the online sex shops make a killing
Even a perfunctory search on online sex toy stores throws up at least half a dozen portals functional in the Indian market. As per reports, the sexual wellness product market in India boomed during the lockdown period brought about by the pandemic. Last year, the findings of the analytical survey conducted by Thatspersonal.com, stated that the sale of sex toys and other adult products increased by 65 percent in the post-lockdown phase.
The survey, called India Uncovered: Insightful Analysis of Sex Products' Trends in India, was generated after a study of a whopping number of over 22 million visitors on the brands' website. These visitors, as per the findings shared, resulted in approximately 3.35 lakh sex product orders and resulted in a little below 5 lakh products sold. Compare that to the offline store shutting shop in a little over a month's time. That's yet another irony of India.