The sale of sex toys in India saw a 65% rise post lockdown phase as revealed by a report by ThatsPersonal in July 2020. While the demand for adult toys and other sexual wellness products is only increasing sale and purchase of such products is still a big cultural taboo in India.
It is not entirely illegal to sell adult toys in India but the existence of some archaic laws pose legal and logistical obstacles. This could be the reason why we do not see many or for that matter any shops selling these products openly.
But things seem to change with a sex toy and wellness products store in Goa. Launched on 14th February, Kama Gizmos is apparently India’s first official brick-and-mortar sex shop.
The good thing is that it is more like a pharmacy or general store and not at all flashy or like a dimly-lit dungeon. Vice Media representatives visited the store and gave a detailed description.
The store has sex toys, viagra-like sprays, novelty condoms among other sexual wellness stuff. Some of the store's bestsellers include BDSM sets, marshmallow-flavoured, glow-in-the-dark and vegan condoms, cock rings, vibrators and role play costumes.
Nirav Mehta, the co-founder of the shop, had an explanation as to why the store has been designed this way.
We have purposely not made it flashy or like a dark underground dungeon, which is how most shops like this abroad are. We have modelled it like a medical store, while all our [legal] certificates are on the wall. We do this to avoid any political backlash.
Coming to political backlash, laws in India do not explicitly ban the sale of adult toys but Section 292 of the IPC prevents the sale of any material or product that is 'obscene' in nature.
A book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect (is) such as to tend to deprave and corrupt person
- Section 292 IPC
This is interpreted to include adult toys and other sexual wellness products at times.
Speaking to Vice Media, Mr. Mehta said that they have taken care of this grey area in the law.
We purposely chose toys and products with packaging that did not have nudity or show women in a demeaning manner, so it does not violate any obscenity laws.
The store owners are planning to expand and stock up on more unique products for their customers. This is just the beginning. We have a long way to go as far as conversation around sex and adult toys are concerned but it's awesome to know things are changing.
Al images of the store and products sourced from Vice India.