By meghna at 6 December, 2009, 12:34 am
Prostitution is the oldest profession of the world. It has been prevalent since time immemorial. India is a land of culture and morals. And even though many of us would regard prostitution as immoral, It has been seen in our culture to.
The DEVDASI system in India was the institutionalization of prostitution in the country. The females at a very young age are gifted to the temple by their guardians. Moreover it has been proved that historically prostitution was legal at the time of Mauryan Empire.
Not only this the prostitutes were supposed to pay taxes. Buddha had even stayed at the house of Amarpali who was a well known dancer. It is also noteworthy that in Kolkatta, the mud for making the idol of goddess Durga during the navratri is taken from a brothel.
But now the situation is different. Prostitution is looked down upon by almost everyone in the country. The streets that lead to brothel are considered the path to hell. People are ashamed to be associated with prostitutes in any sense.
In India, prostitution is allowed in private but in public it is a crime. According to The Immoral Traffic (Suppression) Act (SITA), prostitutes can practice their trade privately but cannot legally solicit customers in public. Organized prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings, pimping etc) is however illegal.
Moreover the law forbids a sex worker to carry on her profession within 200 yards of a public place. The sex workers are not protected under normal labour law, but if they want they have the right to rescue and rehabilitation. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) charges the sex workers with crimes under the ambit of “public indecency” or being a “public nuisance” which are not well defined in law. Presently we have no laws for male sex-workers or gigolos
Recently the government has posed a new law under which: soliciting will not be a crime, moreover sex workers would not be evicted, their clients could be sent to jail and penalised up to Rs 50,000, living off earnings of sex workers is illegal and arrest and penalty of Rs 10,000 to the person who rents out his place to the sex workers.
If the act is passed then the legal responsibility would shift from the prostitutes to the clients. The merits would be that since a person cannot be forced to have sex with a prostitute he should be liable for his voluntary action. Moreover the sex workers would be protected from further harassment by the police.
However there are certain demerits too. Since India witnesses allot of cases of immoral trafficking and forced prostitution. If it is legalised it would be difficult to protect the innocent girls from the clutches of the pimps. Moreover prostitution being a easier option to earn the girls from poor family might be forced in it.
Ironically in India no one considers sex workers as labourer. If you call some one a prostitute I m sure it wont make her as happy as it would if you call her a doctor. Reality is that we look down upon this occupation. Even a prostitute doesn’t want her daughter to carry the profession further. The reason is deep rooted. In Indian Society we have eternal relationship. A wife is the better half of her husband who make him complete in every possible sense. Even Manu considers Adultery as a sin of highest order.
Prostitution may be present in India but it has never been appreciated. I think that if prostitution is a sin, then this sin is committed by both the client and the sex worker. Then why do we leave the client? Just because he is socially accepted? I’m sure prostitution may be forced on the sex worker but it can never be forced on the client. Why are prostitutes raped by police officials? Isn’nt there character worse than those who openly sell their bodies. Prostitutes sell their body but these rapists sell their morals.
The question is not what should be the legal status of prostitutes, the question is what should be the legal status of the pimps that force innocent girls into the trade. Why aren’t they given life imprisonment for ruining the life of many girls? What about elite class which buys young virgin girls of 12 years to fulfill their thirst of lust. Punishment should be given to those who promote sex trade not to their victims.