Are we not worth respect? Prostitution in India
India is a land of great art and culture. Prostitution is considered as one of the oldest jobs in India. In earlier times prostitutes were regarded as “NAGARVADHU” who used to dance and entertain people. They depicted the magnificent feminine beauty and were considered among high-class people. But unfortunately, with modernization, prostitution only depicts the plight of the women. In this 21st century, prostitution is considered the easiest employment sector for women in India. Why?
India is one of the largest red light areas in Asia. According to the report of Ministry of women and child development in 2007, there are 3 million sex workers in India among which 35.47% of them enter the trade before the age of 18 years.
What could be the reason that there are millions of women in prostitution? Most of the women who are involved in this do it due to poverty and lack of resources. Also, many women are forced into this business by pimps ( dalaal) or betrayed by a false promise of secured jobs. The worst scenario is that the kids of sex workers eventually land up in this business only as they are deprived of education. In this flesh business, one question that comes to my mind is that Does having vagina means that you are suitable for sex only?
Economic and social status
India has the second largest number of prostitutes after China. Many women go into this flesh business because they can earn higher wages compared to other sectors thus giving them economic status. In this business, there are 3 parties- sex worker, a brothel owner and the pimp. According to a report around 20% money goes to pimp, 30% to the brothel owner and the rest of the sex worker.
Although Mrs Bharti Dey, secretary of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a Bengal organization which works for the rights of sex workers said that the earlier system does not exist anymore. Only 20% goes to the brothel and the rest to the sex workers unless there is no contract. Thus it would help in improving their economic status.
With changing times from 6th century to 21st century, the social status of sex workers has changed a lot. Earlier they were having a high social status as a Devdasi but now they acquire a very low social status as a Tawaif in our society.
Generally, women from lower middle class belong in this industry who have a weaker educational background. Right now India is having a very negative perception of prostitutes so India is not ready for legalizing prostitution. First of all rules and regulation regarding prostitution should be made clear.
Legal status of prostitution.
In India, prostitution is legal only if it is carried out in private residence but organized brothels, pimping is illegal. Although there are many large red light areas like Sonagachi (Kolkata which is Asia’s largest), Kamathipura (Mumbai), G.B. Road( Delhi), Budhwar Peth (Pune) and many more. If brothels are illegal in India then how these areas are working in such an organized way? Also why?
As prostitution is not illegal but brothels (Kotha) and pimping (Dalai) are so if anyone who can prove that they are carrying out this service in a private place so it is legal. There are many loopholes in the laws and rules of prostitution in India which allow the brothels to be safe by shaking hands with police and politicians.
Now the current law related to prostitution is Immortal Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA). This law is intended to limit and abolish prostitution in India by gradually criminalizing it. The main aspects of this law are that both sex worker and client is punished for carrying out any sexual activity in public place. Pimps are also illegal as they live on the earnings of the sex worker. Brothels and trafficking are also illegal. One important aspect of this law is that the rescued women are obliged to provide rehabilitation in a protective home.
Male sex workers.
Generalization is the perception. Whenever we talk about sex workers or prostitution then automatically a feminine figure pops up in our mind. With the modernization of women sex workers status changed from high to low there is also an emergence of male sex workers. Male sex workers are generally hired by higher class women so the men got a way to earn a higher pay. Right now this is not prevalent in our society but with time this will have its roots in our land.
At last, concluding this article all I can say that we need to change our perspective towards sex workers. We need to provide them education and health facilities so they will be able to live a worthy life. Giving them a proper social status and proper laws for them will be our first step in making this society a better place to live in.
Report: Divya Mehra
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