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Practicability in Legalizing Sex Workers in India

legalise prostitutionThe Supreme Court of India advocated prostitution should be legalized.The Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Save Childhood Movement and Child-line, protesting about wide-ranging child trafficking in the country and pursuing orders to control it. National Commission for Women (NCW) also filed this proposal in front of SC. The apex court, presided by a two-judge bench, said no governments have been successful in eliminating prostitution, no matter how hard they tried. Legalizing it would help the system to monitor the industry, rehabilitate and deliver necessary medical support to those involved.

The sex workers world is wedged between “illegal” and “immoral”. Prostitution might be illegitimate in India, but trade of life goes on. At least identifying it as profession will diminish the violations that come with it, like child prostitution, drug abuse and crime. As being the citizen of India sex workers also has the right to live with dignity as per Article 21of Indian Constitution. Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labor and makes it punishable under Immoral Traffic ( Prevention) Act 1986.

Dr S. Jana, who is the principal of the SRTI, said while welcoming the proposal no amount of disciplinary action can preclude prostitution. Those will only lead to violence and criminalization of the trade. But others are scared that such an attempt would only boost traffickers and the prostitution mafia.

Bharati Dey, president of the All India Network of Sex Workers, a collaboration of about 90 sex-worker community bodies with close to 2.5 lakh members across 16 states, says that legalization will mean regulation. Dey, who also heads Durbar, a Kolkata based body of sex workers with 70,000 listed associates that is represented on the SC panel, has spent the last two decades promoting for legalizing sex work. “Police very often get paid to let off traffickers. Regulation will decriminalize the trade,” says Dey, whose organization currently runs self-regulation units and has sent at least eight traffickers to lockup.

There are pros and cons of legalization of prostitution. We fantasize that prostitution doesn’t happen here. India need to learn from countries in which sex work is legal has concluded that it is best to standardize a line of work which will never evaporate. There are nearby 3 million prostitutes in India; regrettably, many of them are children below 18. As per the provisions of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956  Prostitution in private is not illegal in India, but structured prostitution like running brothels, pimping and forced prostitution is illegal. So, a woman involving in sex work behind closed doors is not illicit but it goes into a prohibited act, if anyone else is profiting from it or runs it in open area.

Prostitutes today hesitate to approach doctors. They fear police pestering & they fear their property-owners will banish them. By legalizing prostitution, we also legalize the battle against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Legalizing it will give dignity to sex workers and is the best prevention to forced sex. Sexual needs of everyone in the humanity are unequal. Some are sexually hyperactive; they need to halter their sexual needs. If prostitution does not be existent, they will try out their quests with others, causing disaster around. Legalization will discourage police from wresting money from the poor sex workers, who are strained to give their hard earned income to the cops to let them live in peace. Legalization would also help to improved work environments and better remunerations for personnel.

In India what we need is a practical approach. Most of the prostitutes enter into this business to feed their family, but main part of their income will shared within pimps and policemen. Bringing more employment opportunities to women can make miracles in this problem. We have to facilitate prostitutes with timely sex education to make them aware of venereal diseases which may occur by this profession and medical assistance. It is very important to regulate prostitution with pertinent legislation which articulate when, where and how it could take place.