When you search for the meaning of prostitution, Google says ‘the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment’. At the same time it also says ‘the unworthy or corrupt use of one’s talents for personal or financial gain’. Evidently, prostitution can be perceived in either ways. Some conclude it as a horrendous act and some nod approval of its existence.
In India, prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money) is legal, but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, owning or managing a brothel, prostitution in a hotel, pimping and pandering are crimes. Prostitution is legal only if carried out in private residence of a prostitute or others.
Until the 1960s, attitudes toward prostitution were based on Judeo-Christian views of immorality. Researchers have recently attempted to separate moral issues from the reality of prostitution. As with the drug trade, much of the violence associated with sex work is worsened by its illegality. Violent people are more likely to prey on sex workers, confident that they won’t be reported to police. But that itself cannot be the reason to legalize prostitution as it has a number of scams as well.
In a country like India which is defamed on treating its women badly and well known for the rising crimes against women, making laws on prostitution is a solicitous debate. It cannot be denied that there are sex workers who get physically abused or become victims of violence from their pimps and even clients. Women prostitutes in countries or states wherein it is considered illegal are less likely to report to the authorities when they get hurt. Therefore, Prostitution legalization will protect women for abuse and violence. Unlike illegal prostitution wherein sex workers might be forced to engage in sex without condoms, decriminalizing it can allow the state to impose the use of protection when engaging in commercial sex and for the workers to get regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
On the contrary, it is a very dangerous and risky business to get into. Even with the decriminalization of prostitution, women and even children can still suffer from violence and physical abuse. People who are into this profession are prone to rape. The mortality of sex workers are higher as opposed people who have other jobs. Additionally, it will also encourage human trafficking. Human trafficking, especially of girl children, is rampant in our country . With poverty driving some parents to sell their kids to sexual predators is alarming and if prostitution will be legal, more children will be coerced to be sex workers.
Furthermore if we concentrate on the brighter side, it can be added revenue for the government. By legalizing this practice, brothels, workers and other related business will be obliged to pay taxes. Provinces and cities with permissible prostitution will be earning from tax revenues just like what they earn from other legal businesses.
Most of the researches indicate that the majority of sex workers in India work as prostitutes due to lacking resources to support themselves or their children. Most do not choose this profession but out of necessity, often after the breakup of a marriage or after being disowned and thrown out of their homes by their families. The children of sex workers are much more likely to get involved in this kind of work as well.
I would like to conclude by saying that the argument for the decriminalization of prostitution is never-ending, given the different attitudes people have when it comes to legal, moral and health issues. And since this act is real and present, legal or not, the government, people of the community and the sex workers themselves should do their own share.
Ashwathi is an enthusiastic traveller and dancer with a passion for movies and music. Hailing from an Army background, she considers herself fortunate enough to have experienced the diverse cultures that India boasts of. She is a graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications and has worked in print, radio and television.