Legal Literacy

Prostitution – Is it a problem?

Prostitution – the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country (sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being permissible but unregulated, to an enforced or unenforced crime, or a regulated profession.

Every citizen of India has the right to choose the profession according to his own will. And it is very humbly said by many of our senior citizens that ‘work is worship’ and also that ‘work is work; whether on a large scale or a small one’. When we have humans existing with such great mentality and intentions then why do we develop a “dirty” image in our minds when it comes to prostitution?

It is her body, it is her wish for the way she wants to use it. Sex work is an occupation that many women voluntarily choose. To deny that prostitution is work that not only infringes on women’s right to choose their work, but also on that of men, transgender and gender-diverse individuals. And denying sex workers the right to do their work legally infringes on other rights, such as their access to legal aid and recourse.

Who are ‘WE’ as a society to question her character when she is just earning by doing the work she is comfortable doing?

When it comes to prostitution, Indian laws are vague. In India, prostitution is legal, but activities related to it are not. Law keepers themselves are not aware of the criminal charges that can be held for specific activities. The Immoral Traffic Act, according to this act, prostitutes can carry on with their business in private but at the same time they can be punished if they do the same in open. Section 373 of Indian Penal Code, Section 2 in The Children Act,1960 and so many laws are there to stop minors to engage in prostitution, but these are the laws which are just in books and law in order is completely different and don’t even exist. Indian government is busy in raids on Red Light areas, but no one wants to save those poor innocent souls that are forced to engage in this field. How this does even make sense?

Everyone in India is busy in talking about Human Rights. Even some lawyers are taking the advantage of Human Rights in Rape Cases and even for the terrorism cases, human rights are becoming private defences but when this comes to prostitutes, none of us think about the violation of their human rights which are violated on regular basis and sometimes even without their concern.

Moving to another delicate question which will be further connected to the topic is rape.

What do you think is the cause of rape?

It is sexual desire. Though rapists are not educated enough to understand the sensitivity of a woman’s consent but if prostitution becomes legal, there are chances that there are less rape cases in the country. In addition to that, if prostitution is legalised then there are chances of no existence of human trafficking and it will decrease hidden, illegal and street prostitution. Legalization of prostitution will also protect the women who are engaged in prostitution and they can easily get access to health facilities as they will have their own rights. They could even move to court for the proper functioning of their rights. Women in systems of prostitution also want the sex industry legalized as they are the one who suffer the most because of the absence of any rights for them.

There are 2 million sex workers working in India and the unofficial number would be much higher. In a developing country like India where even engineers are unemployed, prostitution is a source of earning livelihood and how could it be objectionable if a mother is able to feed her child by using her body.

The core problem that we are facing today is identification of the problem.

Prostitution is not the problem. Forced prostitution is the matter of concern. Every year, 20,000 women or girls are forced into this business because of illiteracy, child marriage, poverty etc. Strict laws need to be made to prevent this problem and these laws should also be governed by a strict authority. These innocent souls are separated from their homes and are raped by animals in the shape of humans. Laws exist for this problem. Laws such as The Indian Trusts act, 1882, Section 3,4,5 of The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and Section 372 and 373 of Indian Penal Code are there to stop minor trafficking and prostitution but mere existence of them does not help. And even when some of the victims escape from their undesirable web, society refuses to accept them which lead to further issues.

India is celebrating 70 years of independence, but still a girl is not allowed to be independent enough to choose her profession. The practice of prostitution should be legalised in India in actual sense so that sex workers are not exploited.

Solution to the problem is simple:

Make selling sex legal but buying it illegal- so that women can get help without being arrested, harassed or worse, and the criminal law is used to deter the buyers, because they fuel the market. Prostitution being already a huge industry in India, should be allowed to establish legally so that lives of innocents are nurtured. In countries where prostitution is regulated, the prostitutes may be registered, they may be hired by a brothel, they may organize trade unions, they may be covered by workers’ protection laws, their proceeds may be taxable, they may be required to undergo regular health checks, etc. The degree of regulation, however, varies very much by jurisdiction. This could be very well done in India if Prostitution would be legalised.