Sex toys in Mumbai: The pleasure is all yours, so what's the fuss about?

Updated: Jun 26, 2019, 09:01 IST | Suraj Ojha and Faizan Khan | Mumbai

With sex toys freely available across the city and online, why does only customs department make a big deal with its archaic laws?

Sex toys on display at roadside shops near Flora Fountain. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Sex toys on display at roadside shops near Flora Fountain. Pics/Suresh Karkera

In stark contrast to the hush-hush tones of conversations concerning sex, south Mumbai's Fort area sees an audacious sale of sex toys, complete with prominent displays. Motorised and non-motorised toys adorn the footpath stalls right opposite a court. A visit by team mid-day to this area confirmed the rampant sale of sex toys there. The vendors claim to have been selling these banned products for the past 40 years.

The prominent display of sex toys, vendors at Fort said, is to make it easy and comfortable for customers to approach us. "Both male and female customers buy these sex toys from us. Some of them to arouse their partners and some to gift their friends, especially the newly-married ones," a retailer told the mid-day team.

Sex toys on display at roadside shops near Flora Fountain

"Ye sab bikta hai [All this sells]," a retailer said when asked what these toys were. Asked if no one objects to such display, he denied it. The products were priced in the range of R300 to 400. Aren't these banned, we ask one vendor. "Net pe jake dekho kya kya milta hai [Check the internet to see what all is available]," he responded, as he pointed to the tablets that "boost power."

He said that sex dolls too were available if ordered, "from Rs 12,000 to Rs 16,000." If you need "a small one, you can get it around Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000." He also confirmed that these products had no ill-effects, saying they wouldn't have done business for 40 years if this was harmful.

Sex toys on display at roadside shops near Flora Fountain.

Uncomfortable passers-by

A 45-year-old Deepak Mishra, who was shopping in the Fort area with his family said, "It is so difficult to come here with family and kids as these toys with obscene photographs are put on sale publicly. If such materials are illegal, how can they be available openly in the market? Retailers should have some moral sense. At least they should cover the obscene photographs while selling these toys."

Another 36-year-old woman too shared similar views. "I feel so uncomfortable while passing by this market. It is okay to sell them but one must think of families and kids. Several retailers sell adult toys along with toys for kids," she said.

Mumbai market penetration

There are a number of e-commerce websites where sex toys are available. The Social Service Branch of Mumbai Police is not aware of the sale of these sex toys in the Mumbai market. "We have been taking action against obscene material put on display, books and DVDs of porn movies, but we have just come across such toys. If any such complaint comes to us regarding the toys, we will initiate action in accordance with the law," said an officer.

Despite the customs department seizing such items, they are being sold in open markets. "The quantity seized by the customs is just 10 to 20 per cent. Companies pay huge bribes to get their consignments into the city," said an officer from the customs department. RTI activist Prithviraj Maske said, "I have scanned over 50 e-commerce websites who offer free home-delivery of these products and also ordered two sex toys. The e-commerce websites have accepted the order."

Brijesh Singh special IG (Cyber) Maharashtra, told mid-day, "If any specific complaint is made, we will examine it and if it attracts criminal offence, we will take action."

10-20%
Percentage of illegal goods seized by customs dept

40
No. of years vendor says he’s sold sex toys at Fort

Also Read: Now a Bollywood film on online adult toy store founders

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