Sex toys worth Rs 8 crore confiscated in two years in Mumbai

Updated: Jun 25, 2019, 08:50 IST | Suraj Ojha and Faizan Khan

And that is just in Mumbai; when will archaic customs law go, ask industry and sexperts

Sex toys worth Rs 8 crore confiscated in two years in Mumbai
Representational picture

In the world's second populous nation, the obsession with sex toys shouldn't come as a surprise. What, however, does is the massive quantity of it being illegally brought into the country. The toys are regularly detained by the Customs Department. A Right To Information query filed by activist Prithviraj Maske revealed that from 2017 to January 2019, the Airport Special Courier Cell of the Mumbai Customs Department had seized sex toys worth Rs 8 crore.

In the world's second populous nation, the obsession with sex toys shouldn't come as a surprise. What, however, does is the massive quantity of it being illegally brought into the country. The toys are regularly detained by the Customs Department. A Right To Information query filed by activist Prithviraj Maske revealed that from 2017 to January 2019, the Airport Special Courier Cell of the Mumbai Customs Department had seized sex toys worth Rs 8 crore.

The RTI filed by activist Prithviraj Maske revealed how consignees have been importing sex toys in the disguise of Diwali gifts, electronic devices, unbreakable plastics tubes, air pumps, fans, footwear soles and uppers, hair cleaning liquid and plastic toys, etc. Maske had read newspaper reports about Mumbai airport turning into a smuggling hub and hence decided to file an RTI to know what was the contraband coming into the county. "The information surprised me when I found details of sex toys being smuggled. Markets in south Mumbai have such toys on display. This means that the customs department fails to detain all consignments," he said.

Also Read: How sex toys can be beneficial for couples

According to customs officials, the sex toys that are primarily imported from China find their way into the city in the disguise of various consumable products. In the past two years, officials have confiscated dildos, vibrators, artificial female organs and several other kinky items.

Laws in India are unclear about the sale of sex toys. In most cases, the concern is often related to the way these products are sold, with suggestive pictures and graphic descriptions. At the airport, such consignments are seized under the provisions of the Customs Act, an official explained.

Officials added that as per the provisions of Section 11 the Customs Act 1962, any goods or materials of specified description that would cause grave injury to maintenance of public order and standards of decency or morality are prohibited for being imported and exported. Also, the central government had issued a notification in 1964 prohibiting import of obscene books, pamphlets, paper drawings, etc and making it punishable with imprisonment and fine.

Also Read: Men initiate sex three times more often than women

Once these toys enter the Indian market and are sold by retailers, the local police can initiate action under section Section 292 (1) of the Indian Penal Code. The Mumbai police have been conducting raids on such retailers who are booked under the above section.

However, there is no check on e-commerce and adult websites that openly sell these products at costs ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 25,000.

Senior lawyer Dr. Sujay Kantawala voiced similar opinions about online sale of sex products. "The customs department at all entry points must seize and destroy such prohibited items under section 292 (display or exhibition of sex toys in an obscene manner) of the IPC," he said, adding, "I have seen all sorts of vibrators openly displayed for sale on footpaths in Fort area. This is not just obscene but illegal too. Neither the police nor the BMC has taken any action against these illegal stalls encroaching upon footpaths."

Sex toys worth Rs 8 crore confiscated in two years in MumbaiRepresentational picture

Healthy or not

Sexologists had differing opinions over the use of sex toys. While Dr. Prakash Kothari, sexologist, said that correct usage is healthy, Dr. Rajan Bhonsle, MD, Hon Professor & Head of Department of Sexual Medicine at KEM Hospital, said that they are not safe.

"Sex toys which are available in the market if used properly can be of tremendous help. They can increase desire, enhance the quality of arousal and moreover, individuals experiencing difficulties or delays in orgasm can take help of such sex toys or vibrators," Dr. Kothari said, adding, "Such toys were popular in the times of Vatsayana who wrote Kamasutra. If a man is unable to satisfy a woman, he can do so by Apadravya (artificial penis) which is today's vibrator."

Dr. Bhonsle, however, said, "Sex toys are not safe for use. I get many patients who ask me about them but I never advise in their favour. I had visited a sex toy market in the USA. These toys are very harmful and may even prove to be fatal at times. Sadomasochism (giving or receiving pleasure from infliction or reception of pain or humiliation) is the idea behind using such products. One example is that of a penis ring which is worn around the penis to restrict the flow of blood and produce a stronger erection. If used for longer durations, they may cause gangrene."

Disguised items seized by Customs Department

  • 360 pieces coated in silver colour concealed inside an electronic device exchanger: Rs 5,01, 54,913
  • Silica Gel Massage Cups and Silica Gel Massage Sticks: Rs 6615.12
  • Footwear soles and uppers: Rs 4,400 hair cleaning liquid
  • Diwali gifts: Rs 5128.98
  • Battery-operated USD Novelty Kits: Rs 11,597.32
  • Unidentified parcel: Rs 3,13,51, 300

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