Published on 06 Apr 2023
We all loved playing with toys when young, so why did we stop just because we grew up?
The Indian market is one of the fastest growing regions for the adult toys industry in the world. Since Covid-19 pandemic, more and more Indians have been open about exploring their sexuality and pleasure and are increasingly purchasing sex toys online. In fact, the Indian sex toy industry is expected to grow at a rate of 15% every year, until 2026!
However, there are a lot of misconceptions around the legality and regulations on sex toys in India. As consumers it is very important for you to understand what you are buying and its legal consequences. So here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the legality surrounding sex toys in India.
Can I legally buy sex toys in India?
It is perfectly legal to buy a sex toy or adult accessory in India. Laws and regulations around this primarily concern the seller and the marketing team of the companies that are producing and selling these products rather than the consumers.
Much of the misconception that it is illegal to buy sex toys in India stems from Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC 292), which bans the sale, advertisement, distribution, and the public exhibition of ‘obscene’ books, drawings, or any other illegal object. As per this law it is illegal for sellers to advertise or sell anything that is considered ‘obscene’, not just sex toys.
“For the most popular interpretations of this law, for something to be qualified as ‘obscene’ it must be lascivious or appealing to sexual interests and it must have a tendency to corrupt people. This means those who are selling adult toys need to make sure that the packaging and the marketing of their products does not show anything that is ‘obscene’ like images of private parts or overly sexual texts that can be considered ‘corrupting’. It does not mean the selling or the buying of sex toys is illegal”, said.
In fact, in 2011, the Calcutta High Court passed a judgment which declared that just because sex toys produce feelings of sexual arousal, does not mean that the product itself is obscene. So, as long as those who sell adult accessories and toys ensure that their packaging and the advertisement of the product is not ‘obscene’ all these products are completely legal.
"From the buyer's perspective, the obscenity law is not restrictive at all. This law only applies to the companies that are selling it. As long as you are not using the sex toy in public, you cannot be prosecuted under this law", said Aekansh Shukla, a senior lawyer at the Delhi State Legal Services Authority.
In 2015 the e-commerce giant Snapdeal was taken to court for selling sex toys that were considered to be ‘obscene’. The court ordered an investigation into the matter, and judged that as long as the retailers and the sellers of the products ensure that their product is not packaged in or marketed in an ‘obscene’ way, it is not illegal to sell these products online.
Can I legally use sex toys in India?
Yes you can. Since buying and owning sex toys are legal in India, so is using them. However, it is wise to remember that your right to own a sex toy is protected by your right to privacy. The Indian legal system protects an individual’s right to privacy, including sexual privacy. As long as you are using sex toys within the privacy of your own home, with consenting adults, it is perfectly legal. However, if the toy is used in a public setting, or among those who do not consent to be exposed to it, you can be persecuted not just under the obscenity law, but also under Section 376 of the IPC which deals with non-penetrative rape.
"The key component of the laws that govern sex toys is the public. It is illegal to perform sexual acts including using a sex toy in public. However the Indian legal system is very protective of an individual's right to privacy, including sexual privacy. So it is very much legal to own and use a sex toy in your private space", Advocate Shukla told us.
Mini Gautam, the founder and managing partner of Arthavat Law Offices also confirmed this, “Personal use of sex toys within the privacy and confines of one’s home, should not come under the ambit of law since it does not amount to any exhibition or public nuisance. Users of sex toys should ensure that its only for consensual adult use, and in no way is violative of any other criminal provisions like rape, outraging the modesty of a woman, or in any way used to exploit or harm children.”
What happens if you are caught with a sex toy in India?
If you were using the sex toy in the privacy of your own home in India, with no other people present, or if the people present were all consenting adults, there is no reason for you to worry. It is not illegal to own a sex toy in India, nor is it illegal to use it. There are no charges you can be persecuted on.
Advocate Shukla explains, "As long as you are not forcing anyone to use a sex toy or using it or showing it in public, the law nor the police can take action against you for using or owning a sex toy in India."
However, if you were caught with a sex toy in a public space, or with a minor or a non-consenting adult, then you can be persecuted under a variety of laws including Section 292 of the IPC, which bans the display of ‘obscene’ materials in public spaces.
Can I legally import sex toys into India?
Yes, you can import sex toys into India. However, IPC 292 also emphasizes that objects with ‘obscene’ images or words on them cannot be allowed to enter India from abroad legally. So it is important that you ensure the packaging of the sex toy is free from any suggestive or provocative words or images which will be considered as ‘obscene’ by the customs agent.
Are sex toys used in anal sex illegal?
Not anymore! Though sex toys themselves are not illegal, they would be illegal if they were used for activities that were criminal. Since homosexual activities, including anal penetration was a criminal activity under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, sex toys that aimed to stimulate the anus were also illegal in India. However in September 2018, the five judges bench of the Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality, making sex toys used in anal sex legal!
How do I purchase a sex toy in India?
Well, you can very easily purchase a wide variety of sex toys from the IMBesharam website! Making sure we are in line with the laws and regulations set out by the Indian government is our highest priority, and we always make sure our customers are well protected and will not get into any trouble with the law by buying one of our sex toys.
Like Advocate Shukla mentioned, the onus of making sure the product is legal lies with us, the company, rather than you, the customer. To make sure, we stay within Indian regulation, we make sure that all our products are packaged and advertised in a very discrete manner, with no vulgar images or texts. So identify your pleasure needs, do some research on our website, and just order the toy that will help you reach the heights of joy, and wait for it to be delivered to your address!