Prostitution refers to the phenomenon of engaging in sexual activity in lieu of money. It is a work seen with utter contempt in the Indian society. People roll their eyes in disgust whenever they see a prostitute walking around in their vicinity. These sex workers have to bear the lashings and ruthless words. They are destined to receive hatred and disrespect in the society.
The practice of prostitution in India dates back to the ancient times when ‘Nagar Vadhus’ were made to dance and sing in the courts of the kings. Moreover, their lives were devoted to serving the kings and his men. Since then, the sex workers are considered to be worthy of hearing critical remarks from the ‘civilized’ folks of the hypocritically insane society.
Just like the job of a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, why the job of a commercial sex worker not seen with equal respect? It sounds eerie to brainstorm about the fact that the marital rape and the domestic violence have no rules to control them while the prostitution is gripped under the claws of rules and morality. As a matter-of-fact, prostitution must be treated as a normal occupation in which people borne out of certain unavoidable circumstances plunge their lives. A sex worker should not be criticized because this might be the name they are carrying due to certain reasons such as Bad Company, Harsh treatment by parents, rape victims, belongingness to the family of whores, social customs psychological causes including high sex drive and dismal financial issues.
Going by the statistics, 2 million female sex workers were reported in 1997. This figure rose to 3 million in 2007 according to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The horrifying fact is that amongst them, around 35% are below the age of 18. The children are not actually willing to take this job. Rather they are compelled to get in the vicious circle. Increasing statistics and reports of abduction and child trafficking are the evidence to support the statement.
In India, prostitution is legal only if it is carried out at private residences. However, pimping, soliciting in public places, operating through brothels, prostitution rings, and kerb-crawling are termed to be illegal and deserve stern punishment. Previously, there was Indian Trafficking Act (SITA) to keep a check on ‘immoral’ activities. Later, Indian Penal Code came into existence to punish the clients found guilty of forced prostitution. Nevertheless, no specific legal recognition has been granted to the prostitution. Criminalizing the same will make the matters worse.
I firmly believe that the prostitution should not be criminalized because, for the ones involved in it, it is the only means of their bread and butter. The government should make concrete action plans to differentiate between the prostitution carried out on one’s own accord and the one which is forced! Yes, in all spirits, the laws must be strengthened to help eradicate human trafficking, forced prostitution, kerb-crawling, etc because they are the threats to humanity.
The government should not criminalize but legalize the prostitution in India in entirety. Labeling it as a ‘legal’ act will render dignity to the sex workers. After all, each human being has the right to live with respect irrespective of their caste, color or occupation. As the saying goes, The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, stigmatizing the prostitution will bear adverse outcomes. A fact worth mentioning here is that since the prostitution is considered to be illegal, the sex workers have no right to seek protection from the regulatory committee of the country. They are straightaway shunned.
Legalizing it is far more crucial as it will give voice to the prostitutes and a right to represent themselves. A proper license to work will earn them their dignity and none will look upon their work with disdain.
Hence, the Indian Government must absolutely refrain from putting prostitution under the over-bellied clouds of decrees. It should not criminalize the act but rather emphasize on regulating the practice to distinguish between the right and the forced one. Laws should be made and implemented to help control the associated malpractices and not the occupation itself!