Prostitution Runs In The Family

Ever imagined that a family could encourage its daughters to become prostitutes?

Rajasthan’s Nat community has a tradition of prostitution. This nomadic tribe which previously engaged itself in street performances later adopted “commercial sex” as its traditional occupation. Other communities like Rajnat, Kanjar and Bedia tribes also follow similar tradition in the state.

Family Irony

The Nat community is patriarchal and male dominated. The women in the community may be divided into two groups prostitutes and non-prostitutes. The sex workers in spite of their earning status are shunned by both society and their families. They are given less respect in comparison to the married women.

The sex workers are not allowed to attend auspicious rituals or marry within the community. Conversely, the married women are expected to be chaste. They are expected to wear veils and maintain distance from elders. Pre-marital sex and extra-marital affairs are condemned in the Nat society.

Nat males are forbidden to be clients of the sex-workers. The sex-workers are expected to have professional relations with their clients. They have to share their profits with the pimps and sometimes retired female sex workers. It is observed that a retired sex-worker totally depends on the income of these young prostitutes for her survival.

A sex-worker is the most important earning member in the family who is also bestowed with the responsibility of getting her brother married. However she is not allowed to marry with in the community.

How do they enter the profession?

Segregation of girls start at a very early age. The “prospective” sex workers are given training by pimps and retired prostitutes where as the other girls are taught the fundamentals of family life.

Lack of education, awareness, empowerment and institutionalization are major reasons for the girls to enter the profession.

Ceremony of Nath Uttarai

The clients pay highly for a virgin girl. The first intercourse is mark of celebration with in the tribe. The girl who is dressed like a newly-wed, wears a nose ring which has to be removed by her first client. The client is considered the husband of the girl and he is given preference over other clients in future. The high price for virgin girls motivates the families to sell their daughters soon after attaining puberty.


1. Lack of education and knowledge available to young women has adversely affected their ability to make decisions. 2. They are exploited by both pimps and retired female sex workers. 3. There are greater chances of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases especially AIDS as the sex workers practice unprotected commercial sex. There is considerable lack of awareness with in the community with regard to sexually transmitted diseases. 4. The young girls are now being trafficked by the pimps to other areas including Delhi and Mumbai. The clients in the metropolitan cities pay higher prizes than those in the villages. 5. The greed for higher price lures the parents to sell their daughter as soon as they attain puberty. 6. Although they are the earning members of the family, their status is low. 7. The children are financially and socially depended upon their maternal uncle. 8. Since the sex-workers are not allowed to marry in the community, their is an increase of marriages taking place between a Nat Male and A Non-Nat Female.

Conclusion The female sex workers amongst the Nats are being exploited at every stage both by their family and society. The income generated by selling their bodies barely reaches them. The intermediaries take a chunk of profit from their earning. Unprotected commercial sex with clients is prevalent. The rights of their children are hardly enforced. Not only the prostitutes but their children also suffer considerably.

Awareness must be spread amongst the women. Alternative employment should be arranged for those who wish to leave the profession. Education must be ensured for both males and females. The retired sex-workers must be rehabilitated. Presence of pimps and female trafficking must be checked. The involved of minor girls in the trade must be curtailed. Efforts should be made to bring the community with the mainstream. Gradual changes must be brought in the perception of the community as a whole.

Picture Credits:Picapp

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Should Prostitution be Legalised in India?

From Flickr - 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.

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