Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

City Secrets: Life of prostitutes in Delhi

PIC: Avinash; Text: Gayatri Pradhan & Avinash
I wanted to post this for almost 3 months now but I was reluctant to do, after consulting the team members I decided to go in front with this post (even though all were not in errand of it). I anticipate I am not offending any one by writing about prostitute in Delhi and their life. The sole motive is to reflect their life and misery, as they are also part of the social order. They subsist because of the ‘civilized society’. Feel free to articulate your judgment even if it’s critical. AIDS awareness campaign organised by sex workers at GB Road, Delhi
It was Sunday morning, some 4 months back and I met one of old school friends- Gayatri Pradhan, who is with times group functioning as a journalist, she was about to wrap a report on GB road, so I on her request decided to join. This is what was made out of that visit to the red light area of Delhi.
Long History: There were five red-light areas in Delhi during the Mughal era. But the British closed all except the one at GB Road, named after a British collector. In 1965, the name was officially changed to Swami Shradhanand Marg. But people prefer to call this area as GB Road. This place has 20 buildings. Besides prostitution, this area is famous for renowned hardware materials. It is a place where prostitutes are available for all classes of customers. . Surprisingly, people from all strata of society come to this place for their carnal pleasures.

How they got into this work? All have different story to tell.
“I left home and came to Delhi, one man told me that he will give me some work and I was sold at Rs8000/-“
says Moly

“I left home and wanted to do something for my ailing father and poor family but landed here, not forcefully, but I had no choice” says Rupali

“I was born here to a prostitute as my mother was doing same work for years, I tried to get into civilized society but discovered that I wasn’t accepted any where, I had to get into flesh trade” says Pushpa.

RABEYA, MOLY, Pushpa, Sabina and many more like them cannot memorize when they last lived a normal life. Generally, their day’s routine begins little later than that of others. Unlike other professionals, they don’t have to get up early in the morning and prepare for office. They are not concerned about the traffic jam that keeps almost every Delhitie tense during peak hours of the day. For obvious reasons, they don’t prefer to come out in broad daylight.Only after the dusk enters in, does their day begin. Their service hours commence from the evening up to almost the wee hours of the next morning.

They work without any leave. Unlike others, holidays make their work schedule even more hectic. These people work like anyone else but they do not have any reporting boss, month and date is no criterion for their salaries, its all instant for these women . All these girls are not as high-salaried as the call centre employees, who also work throughout the night in air-conditioned office and serve for their foreign clients. But girls like Moly, Pushpa, Sabina serve for both the Indian and foreign nationals. They say that they can’t remember who initiated them into this profession.

Different work all together:
Every night, they toil hard to please their customers so that they can get good tips after the service. They have only one identity – the civilized society refers to them as ’prostitutes’. These ’kothewalis’ have no fancy designations. As the evening enters in, these ’kothewalis’ doll up in attractive saris, salwar suits or western dresses.
After being bedecked, they come out on roads or wait in the balcony to attract their clients. They prefer to wait in such places where traffic is not too thick. The clients, they say, come on their own and pick them up. After that either they are brought to a hotel, farm house or to a small ’kothas’ (rooms) in Garstin Bastion Road, commonly known as ’GB Road’, the largest red light area in Delhi.

Some of the ’kothewalis’ do not have to go outside as they have their own ’dalals’ (pimps). These pimps bring clients after proper bargaining. Even, the payments are dealt by these men.

What they have to say:
Moly, a 22-year-old girl, can’t remember from when she has been here. When asked, she said, “I was brought here by one uncle. He promised me a job. But now, I am a brand prostitute.”
How does she carry on her life now?
I generally prefer to be picked up by my clients. Actually, I share a single room with Pushpa. As she gets busy during night, I have to vacate her room,” Moly laughed with a wink.
While asked whether she enjoys every night outside, she replied, “It depends upon the client, as to where he takes me. Generally, the Paharganj hotels are available for one or two nights. There are few good and nice clients with whom I have stayed for even two consecutive nights.”

Perhaps, Moly enjoys better in air-conditioned hotels rather than staying in GB Road ’kothas’.

When asked whether she gets a client every night,
She answered, “It matters upon seasons. Generally, I get clients for 18 days at least in a month. If I do not get anyone by 9 pm, I come back to my kotha."

Where does she stay then?
For those nights, I share rooms with my friends, who also do not get clients on that day. Sometimes, Pushpa also goes vacant. I stay with her then,” Moly giggled again.Pushpa seems to be more professional than Moly.

She has been in this business for the last 10 years. Born and brought up in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, Pushpa chose this profession to earn her livelihood. Once she reached GB Road, she never visited her house again. Pushpa’s parents are still alive; whom she sends money every month. But, her parent neither calls her nor visit her GB Road apartment, she said with a sad glint in her eyes.Pushpa has her pimp, named Pappu. “Pappu is very believable, he never cheats me”, said Pushpa, “He gets his share regularly. But he brings good clients.”

What is the definition of good clients to them?
Those, who do not bargain too much, pay properly before and after the service, remain gentle throughout the service-hours are referred to them as ’good clients’.

Who are the worst clients?
Army”, was the collective answer.

"Almost all of them complained that the armed forces a personnel’s come in groups, get service and leave them unpaid. “We are also workers, our brand is that of a ’sex-worker’, but they do not pay us,” complained Moly.
Even, the dalals also don’t dare to take on these people as they are ’powerful’.

"We keep these pimps to control our clients,” said Rabeya, another friend of Pushpa. She is also in the same profession. According to Rabeya, there are some clients who are very rude and ruthless.

"They take the service, but do not pay after that. Instead of getting paid, Rabeya was once beaten up brutally. She lost became unconscious after that. She did not dare to file a complaint with the police, as the client was socially powerful and threatened to kill her, all this for a paltry sum.Rabeya has a two-year-old baby, named Raju. “

"Who’ll feed him if I am not alive?” Rabeya’s voice broke as her eyes were moist with tears.
When asked about Raju’s father, Rabeya laughed innocently.

Perhaps he is somewhere in ’Hindustan’, I don’t know the location.” The touts act as local guardians of 4500 sex-workers in the GB Road.

Back up:
These dalals maintain good relations with the local political leaders, send ’hafta’ (regular bribes) to police stations and take care of their ’sisters’ when need arises.

They are our tarzans,” said Rabeya., while expressing gratitude to her guardian.

How much do they earn?
"On an average, from their client, asked this scribe? “It varies”, replied Rabeya, “sometimes when dhanda is not well, we have to sell ourselves for as low as Rs 200. But during festivals, the ’bazaar’ (market) is good. We easily earn at least Rs 1000 per night. This is because not a single client wants to return with empty hand during the festive eves.”

Who comes here?
Almost everyone, you’ll find here people from different strata of society From auto-rickshaw pullers to white-collared professionals - they enjoy us”, Rabeya replied without batting an eyelid

We have some permanent clients”, said Moly.

Do the Delhities visit GB Road only?
People from different cities come here. Even the foreign nationals visit this place,” said Sabina.

What are their plans for Diwali?
Nothing special, obviously, there will be heavy rush of clients during Diwali. Some of us have already been booked in advance. Some others are still waiting for good offers”, said Rabeya.

Do they decorate their house with candles during Diwali? Do their children enjoy crackers? Do they wear new dresses?

Yes, we do, we light up candles, buy crackers for our children and we also wear new garments. We also distribute sweets. But after everything, we take a strong peg of whiskey and plunge into our routine life – to please men,” said Rabeya.

Rabeya, Moly, Sabina, Pushpa and many others like them are actually trapped between a ’yesterday’ that would never come again and a ’tomorrow’ that they may never see!

CONCLUSION
Let’s face it, prostitution will never go away. It has been called the oldest profession in the world and for good reason. People will throw down money to have their desires fulfilled and you must admit that sex is a pretty potent desire. Most folks don’t become prostitutes because they see it as a good opportunity for employment. In fact most, especially concerning street level and low end prostitutes, find their path to this through nothing more than terrible desperation. Yet typically this is only the beginning.

The problems included are
• Abuse
• the spread of STD’s
• chemical dependency
• rape
• human trafficking,
• and a situation that is little more than blatant slavery.

Yet as I pointed out, it would be unrealistic to expect prostitution to dissapear.


How does this all effect us?
We aren’t involved in the acts themselves. In fact, I seriously doubt that too many folks who are reading this essay have engaged the services of a prostitute. Then again, current statistics state as reported by the Associated Content, that nearly 50% of men have engaged in these very same services. It seems that a great deal of INDIA may not be talking the talk but definitely walking the walk. And when it comes to violence against women, that affects all of us, whether we choose to walk in blissful apathy or are willing to take the hard look.

In examining the problems that prostitutes face, the statistical evidence speaks for itself. Let’s take a look at the spread of STD’s. Only 3-5% of STDs are prostitution-related. Initially this may seem like a very small number. Yet when you examine the number of prostitutes versus the number of ordinary folks, this statistic is alarming.

So what is the solution?
I propose legalization
. Patty Kelly, an anthropology professor at George Washington University, authored an article for the LA Times entitled simply, “

One more time, no matter how much we choose to ignore it, prostitution exists. There is a reason as to why it is called the oldest profession in the world. People desire sex, it’s as simple as that. And people will pay for it. Why not make it safe for all those concerned?

In the context of countries like India where I’ve written about sex trafficking, that would be a bad mistake.

Let me explain why.
There may be a sound argument for legalization and sex worker unions in Brazil and South Africa, perhaps even China. My sense is that in those countries many women genuinely choose to be prostitutes because of economic pressures or opportunities. But in

It’s Different in India:
India, I have yet to find a single woman who made that choice – every single one of them first entered after being forced by a trafficker, her parents, or her husband. Later, after they had been prostituted, some continued to sell their bodies voluntarily. But the initial entry into prostitution was invariably coercive.

That means that if you validate the red light districts, then the new entrants will continue to be trafficked into it. And in India we have had something of an experiment, in which the legalization model has failed.

In the effort to combat AIDS, a union was established of prostitutes in Shonagachi, a red light district in Calcutta . The union, DMSC, purports to represent prostitutes and to dignify sex work, and it argues that it’s important to empower the women by offering them respect and acknowledging their choice of occupations.

A DMSC brochure, for example, states: “Like other entertainment workers of the
world we use our brain, ideas, emotion and sex organs, in short, our entire body and our mind to make people happy. As entertainment workers, we seek governmental recognition and fulfillment of our just professional demands.”

Among liberals in the U.S. and India alike, that model has been treated respectfully. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CARE have both shown support for that approach as a way to fight AIDS. I have lots of respect for both the Gates Foundation and for Care, and they do fantastic work around the globe – but in this case I think they’ve made a mistake.

The argument in favor is “harm reduction” – a sex worker union makes it easier to hand out condoms and educate women about AIDS. That’s true to some extent, but the latest data we have actually show a rising degree of HIV among young prostitutes in Shonagachi. The data aren’t good, but they don’t demonstrate to me that the model works.

In contrast, there is a health outreach model in Cambodia that really does reduce HIV and STD, through regular check-ups, without legitimizing the brothels and protecting them from raids.

That’s the direction to go in.
More broadly, many of the prostitutes from Shonagachi have told me that DMSC is just a front for the brothel-owners, a way of protecting them from raids and harassment. Likewise, the trafficking of young girls and forced prostitution seems as flagrant as ever in Shonagachi. That’s also the judgment of two people whose anti-trafficking work I admire: Ruchira Gupta and Urmi Basu. Both live in Calcutta and see Shonagachi up close, and both oppose the legalization model. So even if DMSC achieved a mild reduction in HIV infection levels – which it apparently hasn’t – it comes at the expense of legitimating trafficking and modern slavery.

I’m particularly swayed by an argument of Ruchira’s, based on the contrast with Bombay. Traditionally, the red light districts of Bombay and Calcutta have both been enormous, and Calcutta has DMSC while Bombay has in recent years seen more raids and harassment of brothels. The upshot is that Shonagachi is as big as ever and seems to have as much trafficking and more HIV than ever, while Bombay’s red light district has shrunk dramatically. There still are some brothels in Bombay’s red light district, but only a fraction of the number there used to be.

Some skeptics say that the raids have only pushed prostitution out of Bombay’s red light district and hidden it among neighborhoods throughout the city, making it more difficult to control trafficking and AIDS. There may be some of that. But if NGO’s have trouble finding the brothels than customers do as well. And most estimates are that total prostitution in Bombay has come down a great deal because of the harassment.

In contrast, DMSC seems to legitimate a red-light district that is completely enmeshed with criminal gangs, trafficking and forced prostitution. The validation from DMSC probably makes it easier for police to take bribes from brothels to look the other way, and harder to order up raids and aggressive police coverage. So, quite apart from morality, it seems to me that Bombay’s record comes out better than Calcutta’s. Maybe legalization and sex worker unions can reduce HIV in Africa and Brazil where forced prostitution is less of a problem, but it doesn’t work in India.

The model in the West that seems to have worked best is Sweden’s, which involves decriminalization for prostitutes themselves, but seeks to crack down on pimping and on the demand side. By arresting customers, the Swedish model undermines the economics of prostitution, and it seems to have reduced the trafficking that one sees in the Netherlands and Germany.

Fundamentally, I think these kinds of disputes about legalization are a distraction in countries like India. Both left and right in the States do good work on trafficking, but the two sides can’t even agree on what to call the issue. The left tends to refer to sex work and sex workers, to avoid stigmatizing people they want to work with. The right tends to use terms like prostitution and prostitutes, to avoid euphemisms that validate such work.

One reason more hasn’t been accomplished in the campaign against human trafficking is that the issue has become so polarized in the U.S. There’s immense distrust and much less cooperation than one might expect. But the one thing everybody should be able to agree on is that whether or not prostitution should be legal for 18-year-olds who are on their own, it is appalling for 13-year-olds to be imprisoned in brothels and forced to sleep with customers. And that is what is going on in countries like India.

186 comments:

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 8:51 PM  

India is “stirring after many centuries of torpor?” Is that so? Consider this, from Felipe Fernandez-Armesto’s “Millennium”:

“Eighteenth-century India was an enormous exporter of manufactures–the Mughal Empire was almost certainly the world’s most productive state in terms of manufactures for export–despite the modest technical equipment with which her industries were generally supplied. Indian workers cut screws without a lathe and made muslin without a spinning wheel.”

Ostensibly insightful columns should not begin with false generalizations. All of us need to presume less, and read more.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:10 PM  

Although disgusted with the current status of the United States, both domestically and in the world, I am a little reluctant to write off the US, Canada and Europe as the economic “sick men” of the 22nd century.

One of the principal things we in the US should fear is that we are rapidly becoming a two class society. A look at both China and India can prove salutary.

Both China and India have fundamental structural problems which their systems of governance cannot really deal with.

Without serious political reform, China will eventually stumble. Today there are hundreds of riots daily protesting the arbitrary seizure of property, the corruption of the political elite and the loss of most basic benefits by huge segments of the population. In addition, China is rapidly poisoning itself with coal power plants and unchecked industrial waste.

India faces basic infrastructure deficits which, if not addressed soon, will eventually stall the current boom. In addition, as you note in your column, no nation can afford to leave large segments of its population in the dust of economic growth.

Whatever their shortcomings, the industrial nations of the west have developed political and cultural institutions which are both flexible and robust. Unless India and China can find ways of developing similar political and cultural institutions, it is likely that their prosperity will not endure.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:28 PM  

We live in Hanoi where the living standard for the locals is good and improving every day. We read so many of your columns and feel a bit ashamed that we don’t do more to help those about whom you so eloquently write.

Today’s column hit an issue that we have often debated and we agree with you and not with Tom Friedman. He seems to have visited a different India than the one we saw last year.

We think you are right to say that a country with so much malnutrition, abject poverty, unsafe living conditions and lack of infrastructure will not soon be the top economic power in the world.

Also, in our limited experience, we found the Chinese to be smart, friendly and helpful as well as willing to make adjustments to help customers. The Indians on the other hand, were surly, curt and rigid, tending to answer the question for which they had been programmed, rather than the question you had actually asked.

All of this would incline us to place our chips on China rather than India.

Austeen Sufi February 4, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

While I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of why China will, at
least in the coming two or three decades, outperform India, there are
other very important differences between China and India. There is
still adherence in India to the caste system, even though they are
purportedly a democracy. And there is continuing conflict, rather
often, between religious groups. who tend to prefer living in their own
enclaves.

Until the people of India care about the welfare of the country as a whole
and the “each man for himself” credo is demolished, China’s more
nationalistic attitude will keep it ahead of India.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

I cannot find it acceptable that women should be sex slaves or ’sex workers’.

As long as women anywhere are seen as sex objects (and never mind the talk about ‘empowerment’ and about prostitution being liberating for women), all women are seen as fair game. They exist to meet men’s needs.

Not to mention that prostitution can be a dangerous career.

I would never prosecute prostitutes as criminals, but I would do my best to put an end to prostitution. Of course, in order to accomplish this, one must give women a better way to earn decent wages.

Alec February 4, 2009 at 9:30 PM  

I have to apologize for making you a voyeur of my thoughts in regards to China and India. Prostitition and redlight districts have proven a certain fascination of mine. In Shenzhen, for example, I would have a hard time designating a redlight district much as I would–in our world of globalization–question whether arguments pretaining to Weimar Germany of the 1920s (”The Bremen Morality Scandal” in _When Biology Became Destiny_, 1984) are entirely discounted in consideration of a today.
Shenzhen in 2006 offered women shoddy breast implants from the continual sexualization of women in terms of how they were expected to appear and leading to infections, disease when those implants broke. In the 1920s and in Weimar Germany, questions of who should regularize prostitution–the police or social workers (an arena dominated by the presence of women)–brought to the forefront whether prostitution was criminal or part of a protective and traditional aspect concerning the second sex. Eventual regulation by the police and too a medical establishment bent on purity resulted in spreading infectious diseases due to the unsterile quality of examinations–and in Weimar Germany of the 1920s.
If there are any past lessons here, perhaps it is to question what exactly keeps prostitution a viable economic field. What roles do purity (translated as youth or vulnerability), access, or economic need play in the translation of sex? Here I am pulling on arguments from Urvashi Butalia in _The Other Side of Silence_ (2000). These questions are important in China as they are in India as they are anywhere else. We should read more, yes.

Ashok February 4, 2009 at 9:30 PM  

The question of legalizing prostitution is one that is particularly difficult for a number of reasons. In a perfect world in which there are infinite economic opportunities, I absolutely support women who want to work in the sex industry, because it is an individual choice that they have made. Given that choice, they should absolutely have the right to unionize and ensure basic working conditions and wages. However, as you pointed out, in order to have a choice, you need to be presented with at least two options. Unfortunately the rampant levels of forced prostitution and trafficking in persons eliminate that choice for many women and children.

In addition, unionization of women in the sex industry, and legalization of this industry by the government function to legitimize the industry. This legitimization is dangerous, because it functionally means that the government is no longer accountable to women for creating alternative jobs and economic opportunities. Rather, it is solely responsible for ensuring minimal working conditions within an industry that is flourishing specifically because government has failed to create viable long-term econoimc and educational opportunities for women.

Ashok February 4, 2009 at 9:31 PM  

yes thr was no need 2 wait 4 three months its hard n bitter truth of society

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:31 PM  

Don’t you think by legalizing it will be easier to orgainse the health check ups etc. The traffiking will continue in anycase, but atlease they will have some organised support to take care of themselves…

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:31 PM  

But if NGO’s have trouble finding the brothels than customers do as well.” ” How about “then,” then? Who would have guessed that NYT writers are soft, evidently hooked on their copy editors, and quit reading what they’ve just written!

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:32 PM  

Prostitution is a dangerous lifestyle but, legislating morality doesn’t make it safer and it doesn’t help people who are forced into the sex trade for lack of other work. I think a lot could be done to clean up parts of the sex industry so that it was more stable. Why not have Walmart open a brothel?

Imagine a brothel where aging sex workers still performed a service to their consumers without a reduction in pay or benefits. A legal brothel should appeal to those who have chosen sex as a trade and profession that distingushed itself first by safe and healthy information about sex. Like medicine, innovation, food and manufactoring it requires serious investment. If we are trying to privatize the sex industry that will lead to exploitation. But, Walmart brothels are all about efficient controls.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:32 PM  

I had to laugh at your assertion that because the police raids and harrasment in one red light district in Bombay seem to have reduced brothel numbers, the customers can’t find brothels as easily,thus,in some way lowering the rate of HIV and AIDS among prostitutes in Bombay. I live in Kathmandu, Nepal, where we don’t have a red light district per se, but ask any taxi driver to take you to a prostitute and they will. Or go to the many “dance bars” or “cabin restuarants” and you can find them. Just because the brothels are now not as numerous in one area of Bombay doesn’t mean the threat is diminishing.I also disagree with your assertion that, despite programs such as the one you mentioned, HIV and AIDS rates have shot up, and that this proves these programs are not that effective. The fact is,most of these women are unable to say no if a customer refuses to use a condom. If prostitution were legalized, they would be able to say, legally, you must use protection or we will not serve you. Now, they have no protection, not from the clients, not from police (who are often in cahoots with the brothel owners) and not from society (as seen in the ever increasing rate of HIV and AIDS in all sectors of Indian society, not just among prostitutes)

Er. Nidhi Mishra February 4, 2009 at 9:33 PM  

The point about Sweden’s model is a good one, especially for the U.S. While the U.S. has no problem getting at the drug problem from both the supply and demand sides, it certainly seems to treat the demand side of prostitution with kid gloves.

Dr.Nishi Chauhan February 4, 2009 at 9:33 PM  

You decided not to directly address the moral assumption behind your refutation of liberal critics who would legalize and unionize prostitutes by caviling on whether it might be a solution in China, Brazil or South Africa. If prostitution is morally wrong it should be prohibited everywhere at all times. A cost-benefit analysis undermines the force of prostitution in India is morally wrong because if liberals can juggle the books to make the costs of prostitution (to worker and consumer) low and the benefits high (greater commerce, customer satisfaction) then their is no reason to fight it. In fact, the liberal argument says it is impossible to fight the human impulses that make prostitution endemic to society–look at alcohol prohibition in the united states. Women exchanging sex for favors–forced or not–has been going on longer than fermenting alcohol, and perhaps even the promulgation of laws. The moral argument says that man killing man has also been endemic to society, but that it is immoral and must be eradicated to the greatest extent possible by the force of law. The question is, on which side of the debate do you truly fall?

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:34 PM  

You write: “There may be a sound argument for legalization and sex worker unions in Brazil and South Africa, perhaps even China. My sense is that in those countries many women genuinely choose to be prostitutes because of economic pressures or opportunities,” but not India because there women are “forced” by others into prostitution. Leaving aside the question of whether sex work should be legalized, I find your suggestion that women in Brazil, South Africa, and China “genuinely choose to be prostitutes” to be misguided. You note that these women face economic pressures, but fail to recognize that such economic pressures can “force” women into prostitution, just as a trafficker or family member can force an Indian woman into prostitution. Moreover, similar economic pressures are precisely what cause many Indian families to force their female relatives, or wives into prostitution. In failing to acknowledge these economic roots you run the risk of painting Indians as amoral, ruthless tyrants who prostitute their women for the fun of it.

Ria Taneja February 4, 2009 at 9:34 PM  

As part of a team of law students researching human rights issues, I visited India in January to spend three weeks researching human trafficking for sexual exploitation and met with groups in New Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai and take issue with a few things you mention in your article.

Firstly, I believe one of the main problems with the domestic legal approach to trafficking in India is its invariable conflation with sex work. The legalization of sex work is not the legalization of forced labor and conflating the two only embeds the issue in a boiling controversy related more to morals than to human rights protections.

Secondly, while my thoughts on sex work in India are still developing and I recognize the complexity of the issue, I am uneasy with the assumption that all women working in the commercial sex industry in India have been coerced. Kolkata is one of the poorest cities I have ever visited; there are men and women making choices that more affluent individuals find abhorrent. Perhaps rightly so; one should not have to choose to live on the street and sell trinkets or to carry others on a rickshaw while walking barefoot through glass-strewn streets.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:35 PM  

To not recognize that women in India could choose sex work as a profession, especially in light of such serious poverty in some areas of the country, is to deny them their autonomy.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:36 PM  

He makes a strong case for not legalizing the oldest profession in a culture that does not recognize a woman’s right to resist forced participation.

I do wonder, however, how long before the USA will expand the franchise beyond Nevada for that ever important neo-con goal: more tax revenue without ‘real’ tax increases. In fact, this new revenue stream could be used to justify further cuts on income tax.

Sound cynical? Very ‘Christian’ Kansas just justified the introduction of casino gambling on the grounds that resulting tax revenues will pay for higher eduction. Even more ‘Christian’ South Dakota is to be thanked for unleashing credit card loan sharking by nixing usury laws to promote economic development.

It is only a matter of time before the oldest cashflow is tapped. Good or bad - at least it will release some police resources to fight other crime.

Ria February 4, 2009 at 9:36 PM  

My bets are still on the US and Western Europe to be the leaders of the 21st century. Tom Friedman can claim the world to be flat but it is ONLY in the economic sense. What about the political infrastructure that goes with that?

It has been shown over and over since mercantilism was laid to rest in the mid 1800s that both the economic change and political change go hand in hand.

India and China may become economic powerhouses but they are setting themselves up for a fall without the political change. Neither one of them has the education level, political infrastructure or the political attitude to change and upset the political cart.

Yes, it is nice to learn Mandarin or Hindi. But I push my children to be fluent in English, Spanish and French before anything else.

Shilpi Verma February 4, 2009 at 9:37 PM  

Its great to see so many people interested in this debate. I would like to add for those that don’t work in this field, the debate over legalization of prostitution has been extremely polarizing with many unintended negative consequences.

I was visiting some Calcutta red light district schools this past January and saw some kids that seemed ill. I asked the staff about the percentage of kids that had HIV, and was told that they did not know. The reason they did not know is because the NGO hosting the schools was against the unions and against prostitution and because of that stance the local AIDS charities refused to work with them.

I don’t understand how anyone’s view on prostitution or sex work can keep them from working on fighting the obvious problems of slavery, AIDS, etc, but the politics and foundation money has all to often created division where there should be co-operation

Shweta Saxena February 4, 2009 at 9:37 PM  

Opposing the legalization of prostitution (or arguing to have prostitution remain illegal) will NOT prevent women/minors from being coerced into the trade.
-The probability of trying to find and implement solutions to prevent South Asian males from frequenting brothels, whether the approach is cultural (change cultural attitudes through education), or better law enforcement, or unique to South Asia, is VERY low.
-Hence, irrespective of most proposed solutions, the coersion of women/minors by people that are known to them will MOST LIKELY carry on.
-Now that we have these women that were illegaly forced into the trade, how do we then begin to protect them? Would legalization spur the creation of unions that promote safe sex/use of protection, look after the financial needs their co-workers, reduce violent crimes against them, promote transparency? Would the welfare of the sex trade workers improve the trade were legalized? Yes!! Or atleast the probability of it happening is higher as compared to status quo.
-Please don’t misinterpret me. I in now way condone the coersion of women/minors into prostitution, but only think that most solutions to prevent the coersion would simply take too long to occur while we turn a blind eye to the plight thousands of sex workers that are in the trade out of their own choice or not.
-EMPOWER them. Give them legal rights. Unite them. They will most likely stop dealing with people that smuggle women/minors into the trade, or the chances of this happening are FAR greater than if we were to let status quo (prostitution being illegal) prevail.

Shweta Saxena February 4, 2009 at 9:37 PM  

You also have to acknowledge the attitude towards sex in general in India. As long as anything sexual is viewed as taboo, the women will continually be in trouble, because general societal ill-feelings towards prostitudes will keep them suppressed and vulnerable. What has to change is the culture. While there will always be plently of demand and supply, is it not better than starvation?

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

Legalize prostitution between consenting adults. There is absolutely no rational or moral basis or justification for telling me I can’t offer MY body for consensual use with another person and receive money for it. None whatsoever.

Then use the freed-up resources (money, police, courts) to go after those that would force children into sex work.

But for adults…keep your damn laws off of my body. I mean it.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

If India is developing fast and China is developing many times faster why am I planning to go on a short vacation to Vienna, Austria and not to Beijing or Bombay? The simple answer is, in both these countries, in spite of the so-called development, quality of life for the common man is nominal or non-existent.

Try crossing the main road in any city in India any time of the day. With chaotic and uncontrolled traffic, you hold your life in one hand, a grocery bag in the other, and at the same time, pull the saree up by few inches from the feet not to stumble and fall. Then look for gaps in the horrendous wall-to-wall traffic and sprint like a rabbit! A small prayer before starting helps. “Good Lord, I am very proud that my country is developing at 9% growth rate just behind China and thanks to N.Y.Times correspondents, it may even be ahead of USA soon. But right now, I need your help in crossing the street! I will seek your blessings for eternal life when I get to the other side. Amen!”

Nobel Economist, late Ken Galbraith, once said, “At the grassroots level, there is no functioning government in India. There is only functional chaos”. How true!

One more point. Do you think the reason why the four “Bimaru” states - Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – are poor may have to do with their inveterate animosity towards English language?

R. Ramesh February 4, 2009 at 9:39 PM  

great work boss...indepth analysis indeed..ya, while working on a story, i have personally seen the appalling conditions these women work in, in Mumbai..TISS had been doing a great work to help these hapless souls at that time..the scene must have deteriorated by now, thanks to our never-say-enough population growth..can go on, lemme stop..good work buddy, pl keep it up.. and congrats to yr team..

Austeen Sufi February 4, 2009 at 9:43 PM  

Thinking aloud, one cannot but come to the conclusion that no one has the social or political courage to legalise prostitution and regulate it. And it is a dichotomy that we also do not want to completely discourage it by having a legal provision to punish either the prostitute herself or himself or the client or both. In fact, when the Health Ministry and the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) officials argue that if clients were punished, it would encourage underground sex work and that would act as a major stumbling block in checking the spread of AIDS, it is a tacit acknowledgement that the existence of the institution of prostitution is a reality that no one can deny. And when they talk about possible “underground sex work”, are they acknowledging that the present situation is better? Then, can we call it “unofficially legal prostitution”? Hmm, is it something like lifting prohibition law to combat the menace of bootlegging and illicit liquor? If it is, why don’t we then legalise and regulate prostitution?

Interestingly, then, is prostitution legal under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, if:

a prostitute works for self and not for a pimp or a brothel; and

uses her/his own premises for entertaining clients

Such an arrangement would also not violate the provision under Section 7 of the Act regarding prostitution in or in the vicinity of public places. We cannot, however, expect a small-time sex worker to have her own premises and will the owner of the rented premises be liable to punishment, under Section 3 of the Act, in such a situation? This would probably depend on whether a lone sex worker working for self is considered as a brothel under law.

Having considered the issue in detail, I for one feel that all agencies including NACO and NGOs must work towards evolving a consensus for legalising and regulating prostitution. And they can have their own cooperative and a demarcated area like SEZs and Technology Parks, on the outskirts. That will also probably be in the time-tested traditions under the rule of erstwhile royalties?

Er. Snigddha Aggarwal February 4, 2009 at 9:44 PM  

Article 14 of Constitution of India provides for equality in general and Article 15(3) provides for special protective discrimination in favour of women and children. Article 16(1) covers equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour and makes it punishable under Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Woman and Girls Act 1956 (which was renamed in 1986 as The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. The name of the Act was changed to “Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act” in view of widening the scope of the Act to cover all persons, whether male or female, who are exploited sexually for commercial purposes). Article 39 provides that the state should direct its policy towards securing, among other things, a right to adequate means of livelihood for men and women equally and equal pay for equal work for their age or strength. Article 46 directs that state shall promote the educational and economic interests of the women and weaker sections of the people and that it shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

According to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, prostitution means the sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes, and the expression “prostitute” shall be construed accordingly. This is a vast improvement on the earlier provision by which prostitution meant the act of a female offering her body for promiscuous sexual intercourse for hire, whether in money or in kind and whether offered immediately or otherwise and the expression prostitute will be construed accordingly.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:45 PM  

Interestingly, the campaign for the rights of women in sex work coincided with the appearance of HIV/AIDS in the country (the first case of HIV infection was detected in 1986). Women in sex work were categorised as high-risk groups and several interventions were initiated. Efforts to introduce mandatory testing met with strong condemnation from the women's movement, which raised a furore, saying that such testing amounted to a violation of women's human rights.

The notion of 'choice' in decriminalisation still needs to be more clearly articulated. Some advocates of decriminalisation declared at the meeting that a woman doing sex work is the same as a woman carrying bricks at a construction site. Such comparisons, however, can be misleading. Prostitution is not labour, it is a violation of human rights. Besides, it is often rape. It is intrinsically harmful and traumatic. For almost everyone in the profession, prostitution is not about having made a choice out of a range of other available livelihood options.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:46 PM  

They should legalise it... The reason why they aren't ready to do it is... only if it is illegal can the politicians and the policemen get their monthly suitcases of cash... if it's legal all he money goes only to the prostitute... no pimp... no policeman and no politician... that's why.... no other reason...

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:46 PM  

Because then prostitutes will have to have sex with government officials who give them the prostitution license, and the doctors who check them out. India is severely corrupt, you have to pay police, teachers, firemen, politicians,ect,ect,ect a bribe to get anything done. man I could tell you a million stories.

Dr. Neha Srivastav February 4, 2009 at 9:47 PM  

why should they it's moraly wrong.....
in a way you have a small squeeze in the STD's that gets passed around. And it also keeps men from being busted and emmarrest to his family. As poor as some families are, families selling thier daughters to pimps...they would have no daughters left.
If it were legal every Tom **** and Harry would be bringing back diesease that could kill his wife.....

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:47 PM  

Of course they should legalize it. It should be legalized everywhere in the world; So many people are sexually repressed they don't know what to do. Witness the rise of Romantica. Romantica is a romance novel with heavy duty XXXX action. Women want a romantic story line but wild sex along with that. There should be clinics where trained sexual therapist can start some sexual healing on these people

Dr. Palki Vajpayee February 4, 2009 at 9:49 PM  

How the Legalization of Prostitution Will Help Women?

One problem in criminal justice today is prostitution, a crime that is only illegal because of the Victorian aged puritanical values of the nation. Since people are free to do whatever they wish with their bodies as long as it doesn't involve money for sexual activities, it makes for prostitution to be illegal. A primary goal of laws against prostitution is to deter women from becoming prostitutes but though the criminalization of the act is an attempt to punish prostitutes, it overlooks the reasons why some women go into such a dangerous type of work or lifestyle.If prostitution was legalized, it could be regulated, which would help the women immensely. The women who work the streets usually do it out of desperation, and the least that the government can do is to help them stay safe. Since prostitutes are socially and legally required to hide their activities, determining the number of American women who engage in prostitution is not easy.

Most calculations range between 230,000 and 350,000, but numbers as high as 1,300,000 have been estimated.Either way, a significant number of women currently engage in various forms of prostitution. There are different levels of prostitution, from higher class call girls to streetwalkers. Call girls tend to have higher levels of education, more control over their lives and usually come from privileged backgrounds. They also make substantially more money than streetwalkers. Streetwalkers are the lowest form of prostitution and the women are likely to becontrolled by pimps as well as be subjected to violence more so than other classes of prostitutes

Dr. Palki Vajpayee February 4, 2009 at 9:50 PM  

How a Married Woman Stays with a Sports-Obsessed Husband - by Dating Other Men??


So how does a married woman make it through football/basketball/baseball/golf/soccer season without Prozac, nagging, shopping (until the credit card company schedules an intervention) or praying for rain to knock out your cable? By dating other men.

That's right, I said date. Try to keep an open mind here. Remember that inside every great village idiot there beats the heart of a genius just waiting to be discovered. C'mon didn't they stone that guy that said the world was round? I know, I know, change can be hard at first, even for the most flexible of us, but when it's right, eventually they all catch on. I ask you, have you ever seen a globe that was flat? You see what I mean?

And just like that old guy from times of yore, I too have a brilliant idea whose time has come. You know you want it. You know that like that Playstation for the kids and that Monday night football for your other half, this is something that you would choose, just for you. But can it be done? More importantly, can it be done without messing with the deeply committed life-long, not to mention legally binding contractual, relationship that you share with your husband? Can you get milk from a cow? Need I say more?

How you ask? Because this isn't about tampering with the sanctity of marriage. This is simply about a woman exercising her right to choose. To choose something just for her. Just like your kids. Just like your husband. And when you think about it, don't you really deserve the same courtesy. After all your sacrifice? After all the laundries and meals you've done and cooked for them. After all the clothes you've bought and cleaned for them. After all the birthday cards and presents you've picked and sent to his mother and father from him. Supportive wife? Dutiful wife? C'mon, do you want this marriage to work or don't you?

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

Your argument holds no water. The experiment has been tried in Australia and since legalisation there is more violence, more street prostitution, more STDs and more women are forcibly trafficked there from other countries. End of argument.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

think that prostitution should be legal because of the health risks involved with unsafe sex. If prostitution were legal then everybody would be more safe because it would be regulated. Prostitution is never going to go away, it is one of our most primal instincts to have sex. Some people don't have a girlfriend (or boyfriend for the girls reading this) and they have to meet their needs some how. I say, instead of making prostitution illegal and forcing it underground where it is violent and unsafe, lets make it legal and regulate it so that it is safer for everybody involved.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:52 PM  

People should not be criminalized for offering sexual services or offering to pay for them. It's a reactionary, moralistic crusade that simply drives the business underground, and by creating a black market, attracts more violence and other (real) crime. Furthermore it's a futile waste of taxpayer money, as there is no hope of ever stamping out prostitution. Let's end the second-class citizen status of sex workers and clients and make sure everyone has equal rights and is treated with dignity and afforded the same protections under the law.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 9:52 PM  

Honey I know what you are saying you truly believe that know I took pills and also tried to do my life in when I was 26 years old. I remember looking at my arm and felling the stomic being pumped out and I will never let a man make me feel like I want to die because he out me in prostitution and I was going to never be able to look in the eyes of my children because I was in this life and could not get out. Please do not do any thing to your self no one is worth your life no one . Please be OK it will get better I promise you just ask god to help you at this time in your life. Please try to love your self to stop feeling ;like this know ask for help some Ware please. Jane

Er. Paayal Sharma February 4, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

More dirt piles up by sweeping issues under the carpet. Prostitution is a flourishing economic enterprise in India and should be recognised as such.

Closeting the oldest profession known to mankind as a morality issue not only amounts to ignoring the exploitation of the commercial sex-worker by parasites, who feed on the income she generates, but the larger issue of AIDS — a scourge which is on the verge of wreaking a global apocalypse.

What is required is a practical rather than a puritan approach. By according legitimacy to the sex-worker, millions of women who ply this trade to feed their families will be freed from the clutches of pimps, brothel-owners and cops on the take.

Additionally, in traditional red-light areas, the workable practice of targeted intervention will gain effectiveness.

Legalising prostitution will see these women, who live life on the edge everywhere, gaining access to medical facilities which can control the spread of AIDS, not only among sex-workers themselves but, at a more macro level, the customer, his wife and potential progeny.

Numerous nations across the globe which have legalised prostitution see strength in this argument. By failing to pay heed to the world order, India has only made prostitution a criminalised whirlpool involving various mafiosi — both governmental and otherwise — and a health hazard for women who are the victims rather than the vectors of AIDS.

Voices which speak in favour of legalising prostitution realise that a progressive society doesn’t ignore certain parts of its whole, but lives and lets live.

Indeed, there is a very strong case to treat the sex industry as any other industry and empower it with legal safeguards which would rid this workplace of exploitative and unhealthy practices.

Dr.Nishi Chauhan February 4, 2009 at 9:54 PM  

Prostitution is legal (with some restrictions it isn’t that bad) in Canada, most all of Europe including England, France, Wales, Denmark, etc., most of South America, including most of Mexico (often in special zones), Israel (Tel Aviv is known as the brothel capital of the world), Australia and many other countries. In India, too, we should legalise prostitution, as prostitutes are known to spread AIDS. .


The HIV/AIDS infected prostitutes should not be given license to operate after legalisation of prostitution and they as well as their families may be paid unemployment dole to carry on with their lives. The amount of the unemployment dole may be recovered from the clients by levying a tax on visiting a prostitute like in the case of Australia and Greece. Every client that visits a prostitute should have to first get a certificate from an authorised doctor that he is free from HIV/AIDS..


Those indulging in bi-sexuality are also likely to spread HIV/AIDS and thus, it is better to legalise homosexuality too, like in England. Homosexual prostitutes should also be allowed to indulge only if they have a license. Those found infected with HIV/AIDS should not be given the license.

Dr.Nishi Chauhan February 4, 2009 at 9:56 PM  

Their clients should also carry a license from an authorised doctor to the effect that they are HIV/AIDS free..


Besides, a second line of treatment should be provided free of cost to HIV/AIDS patients so that they could live longer, general public should also be educated in the matter and encouraged to treat patients with kindness and the government should invest more money in educating people on the threat of HIV/AIDS. And of course, the population of the country needs to be controlled to stem the mass exodus of villagers to cities. Away from their families, they are more likely to go to prostitutes.

Some of the recommendations may be hard to implement but then the government would have to take these so-called extreme steps to control HIV/AIDS in India, sooner or later and perhaps even need to introduce a law that parents expecting a child should undergo AIDS test and if they are infected with AIDS/HIV, there should be a law preventing them from giving birth as it will only ruin the life of the child

Dr. Aradhna February 4, 2009 at 10:40 PM  

A prostitute is hounded, harassed, exploited and treated like dirt. Men have a good, hearty laugh when they say with a touch of contempt: “Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world”. Nobody is bothered about the agony and the horror and the torture to which the so-called sex workers are exposed. They refer to a prostitute as sex worker these days, but this has not helped her in any way. They want to do something for the prostitute not in order to end her ordeal but to achieve some other objective.

For instance, the Planning Commission has suggested that prostitution should be legalised - because it will help tackle the menace of HIV/AIDS. The Planning Commission should have made the suggestion because it would have brought some relief to them, and maybe, liberated them. The aim is something else, not the prostitute herself. We are totally inhuman in our attitude towards these girls, most of whom are forced into the profession due to poverty or by criminal gangs who use muscle power.

Consider the rural scenario. The 14-year-old girl does work in the fields and earns Rs. 20 per day. The old landlord and his sons cast their net carefully and catch her. The father of the girl is addicted to drink, that is, he cannot do without it. He will do anything for a drink - even turn a blind eye to the rape of his daughter. He gets some drink, a little oil, maybe a kg of rice. The man is as poor as a churchmouse. His dependence on drink is exploited by the feudal musclemen. He does not have the strength or the inclination to object. And he gives his consent readily when some agent from the city comes and offers to take his daughter and provide her with a job. The father may or may not know what that “job” really means, but he is in no mental or physical condition to object. The girl goes to the city - a minor girl - and is sold to a brothel. She may not exactly know the nature of job she is called upon to do, but it is, she thinks, better than being raped by the village goons mercilessly.

Chances are, the girl who comes to the city is “fresh maal” - a minor and a virgin. Such a girl is in great demand if she has a pretty face she may - that is the brothel keeper - get as much as Rs. 10,000. In the brothel, the first time is celebration time. And then begins the horrible exploitation of the helpless, hapless girl. She is made to have sex day and night - six times, eight times. She does not have proper sleep. She lives in the brothel itself. Sometimes, she is taken out to hotels where her body is devoured by three or four men at the same time. Some Arabs who come to the city like this sort of thrill. In no time at all, the girl gets HIV. HIV does not kill immediately. It takes 8 to 10 years for the virus to destroy the body. During this period, the girl infects hundreds of clients. And there is human traffic through India’s borders - from Nepal, from Bangladesh. The girls are tricked, promised jobs and then sent to the brothel. Once in the brothel, the girl has no chance of escape. She is beaten up, raped, drugged - and tamed. In Mumbai, if I am not mistaken, prostitution is legal but soliciting is not. How can a prostitute get a customer without soliciting? She cannot be in the street, she will be taken away promptly to a police station, locked up and if she is pretty, raped. The girl has no go but to remain in a brothel.

Dr. Aradhna February 4, 2009 at 10:41 PM  

In a red-light area where life is a never-ending, painful hell. In a red-light area, prostitution is legal, even soliciting is legal. There is no red-light area in Ahmedabad. There are prostitutes operating from their own homes - with the members of their own family around. They can pick and choose. They can take precautions against HIV. There is no exploitation. If she is not in a mood, she does not have to do it. She can rest and relax. There is no compulsion, no torture. She earns money and as the breadwinner, she gets respect. They are housewives who have, by choice, become part-time prostitutes. The law lets them alone and they can carry on their business without harassment from any quarter. Sometime they carry on their business without the knowledge of their families. There are certain places - homes - where they go and meet their customers. There is no pimp there, there is no merciless agent, there is no cruel manager or madam. All classes - lower, middle, upper - work as prostitutes.

Ahmedabad provides a good example which other states can follow. The spread of HIV will be checked, women do not get exploited. Women become free and get a chance to survive. What is happening now is the assault on prostitutes by the state - the police. In Mumbai, the prostitutes are dragged to the police stations and kept in lock-ups all night. They can have no say, against brute strength.

The real criminals are men

The real criminals are men - the agents, the pimp, the managers, the police. What is necessary is, pimping and not prostitution should be made illegal. All the men in the business merit strict action. All their activities must be declared illegal. The police must be after them and not the prostitutes. If the existing situation continues there will be an explosion of HIV/AIDS cases. There are at least two lakh prostitutes in Mumbai city. Living in terrible conditions, infected with HIV, they are in dark, dingy, dirty, inhuman hellholes.

They need to be rescued. Maybe the Planning Commission has suggested the right remedy. The reasons may not be correct but what it aims at is okay: legalise prostitution.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:44 PM  

Today in almost all the societies, modern or otherwise, western or eastern, world’s oldest profession is illegal. In the conservative societies, choosing this profession is like living the worst form of life, it is suppose to be he last resort of poor women.
But the question arises, if having sex with a partner of your choice is legal, how come exchanging money for sex is not? What changes when money is exchanged between two people for Sex? Its definitely not exchange of money because there is nothing wrong in exchange of money between two people. Its not sex either because two consenting adults are allowed to have sex (except for countries like India, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan where there are some restrictions).

So coming back to the killing kittens example, when I suggest people that in a society of pure Liberty, prostitution will be legal, people just revolt, the first knee-jerk reaction “but won’t evil people force women to work as prostitutes?.”

Well first of all, forcing women to work as prostitutes in such a society will still be a crime, irrespective of whether you make prostitution legal or illegal. Just like forcing someone to work in your fields is a crime, forcing someone to do computer programming for you on a gun point is a crime, forcing someone to work as a prostitute will be a crime. Like forcing someone to work in your house as a maid is slavery, forcing some girl to work as a prostitute will be slavery too.

So you see there is no change in status for that act which is certainly a crime. Now if prostitution is made legal, then only the women who wish to work as a prostitute will be in the profession. If there will be enough number of women in such a profession, there will be no incentive for those criminals who force women to become prostitutes do continue doing it. The prostitutes will be well paid, kept much more healthy, and be less exploited.

There will be a licensing of prostitutes by voluntary unions, monthly checkups by doctors and numerous disease prevention measures will be taken.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:45 PM  

The second knee-jerk reaction I get from people is “Oh so would you like to see your sister or mother work as a prostitute?” People, people! There is a big difference between supporting the decriminalization of a voluntary act, and wishing to see my own family members do the same act without consent. Despite of the fact that prostitution is illegal, there are prostitutes all over the world; your sister might be working as one without your knowledge. Oh do you find that idea disgusting? Why not? Because you think you have given your sister some values? Well then why would they be becoming prostitutes just because it’s legalized now?

Objective Perspective: Let’s have an objective perspective of what prostitution is really. When you gift your girlfriend precious gifts and she returns it back with sexual favour (which could be making out with you, or even full intercourse), that is prostitution in objective terms according to the definition of prostitution. Would you really be in a relationship with a girl (or marry one) if it’s made clear that you are NOT getting any sexual favours from her? Or if you are a girl, then would you be in a relationship with a man (or marry one) if its made clear that he is never going to give you any gift or material benefits, you both have to pay your rent separately, you will have to buy your own clothes, jewellery etc, and just keep on giving sexual favours to him?
This, my friend is prostitution from a pure Objective viewpoint. A girl is merely being a prostitute if she accepts gifts from a guy, and then is at some point obliged to return sexual favours. Having a marital contract does not changes anything because if you don’t have sex with your spouse then that can become a grounds for cancellation(divorce) or even nullification(annulment) of the contract(marriage).
A voluntary trade benefits both the parties, take for example a milkman gives a baker his milk, and baker gives milkman his cake. Both the parties are not better off without the voluntary trade. Baker now has milk which he needed; milkman has cake, which he wanted to eat. Similarly, prostitution is a voluntary trade, and it benefits both the parties, and it’s no more just or unjust than a milkman-baker transaction. A prostitute has her sexuality; her client has money, after the trade both are better off than before. We never hear a guy being pushed into heterosexual prostitution against his will, not because everyman loves to be in that situation, but because the supply greatly outweighs the demand.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:45 PM  

Pre-empting arguments:

Chaos! Legalizing prostitution will create chaos everywhere - I am sorry but this is a de facto argument given to whatever I suggest. It comes basically because of what psychologist describe as “Fear of the unknown”. If you think legalizing prostitution will create chaos in the society, well then think again because according to psychologists you are saying that because you are unable to envision such a scenario.
Girls will be immoral, guys will become corrupt - I don’t know where you come from, but prostitution is pretty wide spread in contemporary society, its just that girls won’t admit it to anyone because of its in-acceptance in the society, and guys won’t admit it because its emasculating to admit.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:46 PM  

I live in a jurisdiction where sex work is not illegal, though heavily regulated.

“Now if prostitution is made legal, then only the women who wish to work as a prostitute will be in the profession. If there will be enough number of women in such a profession, there will be no incentive for those criminals who force women to become prostitutes do continue doing it. The prostitutes will be well paid, kept much more healthy, and be less exploited.
There will be a licensing of prostitutes by voluntary unions, monthly checkups by doctors and numerous disease prevention measures will be taken.”
That’s an accurate summation, but add in zoning laws too to restrict such activities to Light Industrial areas. When I was working at Ausspace, making satellites, we had a furniture store on one side, a brothel on the other.
Canberra may be boring, but it’s not exactly a den of sin and depravity. The main concern for us is to make sure foreign sex workers get informed of their rights under Australian law

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:46 PM  

the whole thing was an eye opener. I am from india too. and i guess there is truth behind the changes that would happen if prostitution was legalised. personally, i am not against them but the stigma is hard to remove from the society, and i dont understand why ppl blame only the prostitutes, it takes two to a tango after all!

great write, i actually listened to the whole thing.
and your template deserves mention, it looked so magical when i first looked at it.
keep more coming

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:47 PM  

share a lot of difference of opinions to what u’ve written. You’ve made words like love,care,etc. sound very cheap.I agree with you when you say that prostitution will exist no matter if its legalised or not.But not when you say that “A girl is merely being a prostitute if she accepts gifts from a guy, and then is at some point obliged to return sexual favours.”
Donot compare LOVE with PROSTITUTION.
I hope the criticism will be taken in a healthy manner.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:47 PM  

Well Objectively speaking Love and Prostitution are the same, the only difference between them is on Subjective level. One involves more exchange of love than other.

Have you not heard of a Prostitution terminalogy called “GFE” or “Girl Friend Experience” where a prostitutes would give you an experience so that you won’t be able to differentiate between making love to her or to your Girl Friend. And as much surprising you may find it, GFE is a recent phenomenon. Most prostitutes traditionally won’t let you cuddle them, or even kiss them(from a fear of disease and disgust). In fact if you go to a Hooker review sites(yes they are there, Internet is a classic example of a govt less spontaneous society, if there is a need of Information, Internet will fulfill it), they provide you numerous ratings on customer satisfaction, and most customer ratings go for a girl who gives GFE and is really safe. So this is causing more and more hookers to jump the GFE bandwagon.

I am not saying that Love is as degrading as Prostitution, but Prostitution is catching up with Love. In fact today you can become Sugar Daddy of any girl with consensual exchange of money and sex.

Both people benefit from this exchange, usually its like a young college girl being a companion of a rich old man who needs some physical pleasure. But then whom are we fooling, she is a hooker, with a bit more exclusiveness.
So there you go, a perfect legal form of Prostitution which erodes boundaries between love and prostitution. You cannot say that there is no love involved in such a relationship, because its for women to judge. I think a proper Hindi/Urdu term for that would be “Rakhail”

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:47 PM  

Well if you really think that Love is different than Prostitution then you gotta separate Love and Physical pleasure.

Can you really marry a women with the prospect of never having sex with her? Never Ever! Not the first night, not the last night. Because according to your definition that would be pure love.

I to be honestly speaking am practical, I know no matter how much Love you are feeling for your partner right now, sooner or later it will blow away without any physical gratification.

Second question is, if in Love you have true heartful feelings for your partner, then how come people breakup? Does that mean either it was not Love(then perhaps nothing is love) or it was merely an extended Prostitution.

So if you broke up with your gf, without ever having sex, that proves my first point, no love lasts without physical gratification.
If you broke up with your gf, and you had sex regularly(without any problems) then it wasn’t the lovey-dovey love you describe, because if it was the heartful feelings you describe then how did they went away?

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:48 PM  

Love is not prostitution.
Yet love is value aided. you cannot love a girl or a boy because he has no skills, no beauty, no characteristic qualities which you admire.
Sex is the simplest and most effectively important way to tell someone that you care and respect and understand the value of his characteristic existence.

Love is surely not prostitution, because in love, sex is not brought or dealed over. In love sex becomes a mere medium to express the most sensitive and reasonified feelings.

It is just an illusive way of the writer to compare love with Prostitution. But his intentions weren’t wrong.

How and why will you love a girl who is ugliest you saw in your life(on your view) who has no skills, who can neither talk properly nor walk. who is fatty, unattractive and abusive and keeps trying to bully you. You cannot love a person because he/she is ugliest, poorest with no skills.

You can love only that person whom you consider is worthy for you.

Love is always value aided.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:48 PM  

Let us discuss the old movie Satyam Shivam Sundaram of Jeenat Aman and Shashi Kapoor.

Jeenat Aman’s face gets a burnt and she becomes ugly. What does the movie depicts?

Does that movie say that love is selfless and one should not love a person for his/her qualities but should love him/her just because he is a person?



No. The moral of movie was different. The movie says that irrespective of her face being burnt, irrespective of being ugly on skin and facial counts and standards, Jeenat Aman proves to be irresistibly attractive and beautiful for Shashi Kapoor because of her excellent singing voice and skills. Because of her singing abilities and excellently beautiful voice, she wins heart of Shashi Kapoor, and irrespective of all illusionary ideas of Shashi Kapoor about facial beauty, the inner beauty of Jeenat Aman, her characteristic voice makes her worthy enough to be loved and respected.



That is, you cannot judge the worth of a person on behalf of his/her facial beauty and skin colour. You need to understand his/her inner and inalienable characteristics including good behaviour honesty, bravery, loyalty etc, whatever you look for, if you get it in a person, you obviously fell in love with him/her. That is why we say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.



Now, every person has some quality or other which we may love. Hence it is said that we should love all and each other. Not because it is altruistic nature, but because it is very selfish nature. We should love each other because everyone has got some or other worthy quality/qualities, and those qualities should be respected and admired.

But then again, every person has got some quality/qualities which we may not like/love and actually we may hate.

Thus, it makes it an overall value aided relation. We tend to love the person with whom we feel great and enthusiast.



Just like the case of the movie “Tare Zameen Par”. Ishaan meets many teachers and people. But he avoids them; he actually hates them and finds them repulsive. While on other hand, Amir Khan (Nikumbh) wins Ishaan’s heart, and trust, and Ishaan starts loving him, respecting him, which improves the self-confidence of Ishaan and he becomes excellent.



Same is case with the recent movie Sarkar Raj you saw some days ago.

Aishwarya Rai finds Hasan Qazi as repulsive and wrong, hence she rejects to work with him, while she finds values and ethics of Abhishek Bachchan worthy enough. She finds herself safe, secured and respected with Abhishek; hence she chooses to work with him.



In fact, even Bollywood movies tell the truth in best way possible. It is just our brainwashed view that we do not realize the hidden truth that all are selfishly motivated.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:48 PM  

so you think the difference between human and animal is that animals are polyandrous/ polygamous and humans are not polyandrous /polygamous?

Umm don’t you feel your question is ridiculously wrong?

You want to say that any human who has married two times or three times (may she was a widow) is not human but animal.

You want to say that all Islamic males are animals because they are allowed to have four marriages.
You want to say that Krishna was not human but an Animal because he had many wives.
You want to say that if guy/girl has had sex before marriage, then he/she is animal.

Quite confusing your idea of difference between animal and human is.

Why don’t you read some biology to find the real difference between human and animal?

The major difference between human and animal is THE RATIONAL FACULTY OF HUMAN, THE MIND OF HUMAN, and HIS CONSCIOUSNESS.

Anyways, you need to read these
Dowry- The Other Facet
and more importantly this Emotions, Hedonism, Rationality and Morality in The Dreamland–Part 2

By the way, it is Individual’s choice. Why do you think sex is so important for you? Do you live for sex? Why will your sexual activities show that you are animal or human?

Dr. Aradhna February 4, 2009 at 10:48 PM  

Isn’t it a very weak argument for anything “If we do ___ what will be the difference between us and animals?”

Buddy we became different from animals the first time thousands of years ago when we first used tool. No animal has brains to use tools. Is there?>

Unfortunately we haven’t have stopped having sex like animals yet. And funny thing this animal-human argument is only heard in Indian culture, nowhere else.
We are animals, just in a more sophisticated manner. We can form groups, talk, think about our existence, cry, laugh, enjoy pain, pleasure, invent, discover, among the other things we do different from animals.

Mere act of having multiple partners cannot be termed as animalistic behavior because it cannot be specifically attributed to animals. We have an act of being married to someone, it does not stops you from talking to other people, it does not stops you from living with other people(you can be living with a room mate in other city), but it stops you from having sex with other people. The question is why only sex?

In fact here is a bigger more important question, if you are suppose to be married to a person you love, and you feel like having sex with another person, but still love your spouse, does that mean the marriage is null from now on? It happens more than you think. OR, if you are married to a person, and you now love someone else, what are you suppose to do? Forcing you to be still married would be slavery. If you are suppose to divorce and remarry, then what is the point of Marriage at the first place, why not call it simply “love”.

Prachi Pandey February 4, 2009 at 10:49 PM  

brilliantly written article. I should probably bookmark this website. done
well to be frank, me and my friends have been having discussions on legalising prostitution in India and we did arrive at the same logical conclusion as yours…
what i further like to point out is the chaos point. yes if you legalise prostitution chances are that it may lead to chaos, as a matter of fact you dont want to see a sight of girl soliciting you in open area when you are with your family, but then there are ways to prevent it by regulating the prostitutes to a specific area. Not only will it save the exploitation today faced by many girls who are forcefully bought into this trade but it will also help in controlling the spread of diseases because you know what actual numbers of workers are there and you can plan the health policy depending on that.

and regarding your point the indian mentality, i couldnt agree more on it.been there done that, but still when it comes to admitting in open everybody tries to hide himself under a mask. prostitution is a reality, the more we tend to deny it the more problematic it will become. Infact regading the mentality point i will tell you a short story, i just came back from 2 months of internship for a MNC in some other country. it boasted of a flat structure in company. as a matter of fact it was, you can bang into your senior office and talk to him straightaway, but i am sorry to admit it was not quite the same for indian co-workers, they *cough* *cough* had a desire to make themselves feel important and wanted me to actually send a meeting request before even if they were free…guess it is something to do with grooming(it was not an exception with indian colleagues rather a generality)….

and finally, a request i would like to make, rather than referring to them as prostitutes i would prefer if you use the word CSW(Commercial sex worker) because the former sounds too degrading and is more of an opinion forming word when we dont have any idea why they came to this profession. CSW may not be legally correct term to use but i would still prefer it..

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:49 PM  

one more point i would like to make, shamelessly copied from some other author but made a lot of sense to me….in a country where prostitution is illegal, what CSW fear the most? getting arrested by the police and they end up paying bribes or giving their services for free to them and if they dont they end up in jail. so this also leads to exploitation where they have no where to run and also society also treats them as outcasts. so what can be the logical conclusion: is it better not to have a law rather than having it when it is not properly enforced or is being used to further exploit CSW’s??

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:49 PM  

have read quite a few pieces supporting the legalisation of prostitution, none so far which is so freakin close to my own views…..

to all those going ga ga over love … i know not what love is. humans like all other species are born to multiply , watever we do is supposed to be directed to our getting some more sex. intellect arouses my sexuality , thats why i think and write, cos my conscience believes that that among other things will increase my sex appeal. and love is maybe just another excuse … as paulo coelho describes ….. its the ability to give 11 minutes of pleasure.

and a nation is not homogeneous …. niether is it a haven like the internet

hey diva .. i’ll come back for more

Anonymous,  February 4, 2009 at 10:50 PM  

and finally, a request i would like to make, rather than referring to them as prostitutes i would prefer if you use the word CSW(Commercial sex worker) because the former sounds too degrading and is more of an opinion forming word when we dont have any idea why they came to this profession. CSW may not be legally correct term to use but i would still prefer it..

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:12 AM  

Sexual trafficking of children, women and girls through commercial exploitation, is a fundamental violation of their rights. It is a universal and complex problem, which defies both simplistic analysis and easy answers. It encompasses a range of abusers, different forms of abuse, and differs in the type and degree of impact on the victim. Every year, more than 1 million women and children worldwide are reportedly trafficked and sold for a variety of different purposes - many end up in the sex trade. This number comes to nearly 3,000 women and children per day.

Trafficking & HIV/AIDS is an interrelated. Especially women and girls are trafficking for use of sexual industry. Most of trafficking girls would face several physical & sexual abuses. When a girl newly enrolls a sex industry, she tries to safe herself heard & soul, but most of the time they couldn't free her. Generally the traffickers are not accompanying the women while crossing the border. Therefore, it is difficult for the border police to arrest them. Lack of knowledge of the legal system, no access to the Courts or corruption within the law enforcement services are all cited as factors that severely undermine prevention activities.

Trafficked victim often suffer from a multitude of physical and psychological health problems. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to reproductive health problems in trafficking situations as they have little or no access to reproductive health care. These problems include lack of access to constant rapes, forced abortions and contraceptive use, and other health issues. Women and girls in domestic servitude are subject to rape and other physical abuse, while women and girls in forced sex work suffer increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

Bangladesh is one of the countries in the world in which the rate of trafficking is very high. Because of the hidden nature of this crime of trafficking, reliable statistics are hard to come out. A survey conducted by Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation that the girls forced (trafficking) into the brothels do not want to return to their homes once they are into it for more than one year. Such girls believe they would be victim of social stigma and face discrimination from the society. They also believe, their family would suffer several social taboo, self-respect, and social-dignity.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:12 AM  

Traffickers use 20 main points in 16 western districts of Bangladesh near the Indian border. Kushtia district is very safety-point for traffickers; some villages are used as stations for the traffickers. Rajshahi borders of Bidirpur and Premtali are used because there are fewer check points. Jessore border is very popular with traffickers. Some Deserted-house, hut and hotels are used to keep the girls brought from different parts of the country. At least 13 women are being trafficked every day. The Indian Social Welfare Board estimates that there are 500,000 foreign prostitutes in India - 1 percent are from Bangladesh and 2.7% of prostitutes in Calcutta are from Bangladesh.

Executive director of GHARONI Ms. Roshan Ara Rehka said, 'many girls are forced to enter the sex industry; others are driven to it out of economic necessity, attracted by the high incomes they can earn. As mention by Mr. M. M. Hossain chief executive of RHDS, 'The sex industry, for both adults and children, comes in many different forms, some organized, some more casual. At the more formal end of the spectrum, sex is specifically traded as a commodity - bought and sold through brothels and residence sex work.

Girls prostitutes as young as teen are thus in high demand. So that, trafficking in Bangladesh exists for the purposes of forced prostitution. Although exact figures on the scope of the problem vary widely, the consensus is that the trafficking problem is growing rapidly.

In order to improve the effectiveness of the HIV/AIDS prevention activities, it is essential to protect human trafficking, as mostly trafficking victim are used commercial sex industry in other geographical area, they stay in there, as like in prison, they have no rights of speak out themselves. They are forced to sexual conduct with multiple partners, but they have no ability to insist upon condom use or safe sex and are vulnerable to HIV/STIs transmission.

Ruchika Mittal February 5, 2009 at 12:30 AM  

there was no pint being reluctant, its part of r ugly social set up

U did a good work

Ruchika Mittal February 5, 2009 at 12:30 AM  

Studies in India have shown that HIV transmission is predominantly through heterosexual route in this country. Prostitutes and their clients are the highest risk groups for HIV infection in India. Up to 10% seropositivity is known in the prostitutes in some parts of India. Present study was undertaken to assess the effects of a planned HIV prevention intervention among Delhi prostitutes. In October 1988, 701 prostitutes were screened for HIV infection. Only one of them was found infected. They were also interviewed for awareness about HIV/AIDS and condom use. Subsequently, a planned health education campaign was initiated. Regular group discussion with the prostitutes, and distribution of posters were the important parts of the campaign. 'Madams' were counselled about HIV and later used in the campaign. A specially made short video film on HIV infection and condom use was also used. In this film, the prostitutes have also participated. A reassessment of HIV awareness, condom use and HIV serosurveillance has been done 15 months later (January 1990). The awareness about AIDS has increased to 70% as compared to 5% previously. Fifty percent of them always use condom as compared to 20% previously. Of the remaining, 80% prostitutes use it most of the time. Only 1 additional prostitute has seroconverted during this period. This work clearly shows that persistent and intensive counselling can reduce HIV transmission to the prostitutes of India.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:31 AM  

prostitution has indeed been the oldest profession known to man. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since the last the ppl of LST forum got around discussiong it. Last time around I was one of those who vouched for the non-legalisation of it. This time I guess I have had a complete u-turn on my outlook at this subject.

One of the main reasons as to why people despise prostitution is because of morality of the Indian social order at large and hence it seems sort of absurd to even comprehend that something that corrupt a form in its moral conceptualism could ever have a locus standi in the social flows of the nation. What I feel is that inherent in the profession is a greater flaw that needs to be addressed and redressed.

The problem of sex trafficking and forced prostitution. 3-4 days ago there was an article in the times about 'devadasis' or temple dancers and their relationship with prostitution and how they ended up practising it. It talked of women being alleviated of some diseases because of some ritual and they become the servants of god and are married off to god( at least that is how it started) then they danced in temples and ultimately fell prey to prostitution wherein by the course of time a devadasi became synonymous with prostitution. There has been vast amount of trafficking going on from nepal and I myself have read at least two articles in reader's digest expanding on the issue.

The whole thrust of the argument is that socially these people are being left stranded and people still go to them for the material pleasures that they have to offer. Legalisation would present new status to them and because of the formalities that are being offered at least the people who go there without any obligation will have to own up. The poor women who are first forced into it and then exploited with very shabby conditions with prices of their bodies being as low as 50 bucks for a session would be disowned to the extent that they can claim the humanitarian rights of any other legal profession. Ofcourse the accessibility of courts to them and the attitude of the court will play a role in that but at least they can have a silver lining in the darkest cloud of their lives which we label as "PROSTITUTION"

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:32 AM  

though many have argued legalising prostituition in the name of improving living and working conditions, one fails to understand as to how just legalising prostituition is going to help for all we know it might naaa will end up benefiting the madams who run brothel homes more than anyone else.
as at the end of the day under a corrupt system as existing in our country it is always the middle men who benefit the most.
what is needed now is an awarenes among all as to what the rights and perks of a prostitute are, and making them an organised lot to fight for their rights.
I woudnt advocate legalising prostitution in india precisely because of the fact tht in a country were a vast majority lives in perpetual hunger a move like this will open up the proverbial pandoras box as the number of women who would be forced into this profesion would increase exponentially.

so i belive the need of the hour is to organise those who have alredy entered this profession and create an awareness about their basic human rights.

Ritika Pandey February 5, 2009 at 12:33 AM  

legalisation of prostitution may have sm positive points but its time 2 look at the ugly face would it do any good to the prostitutes or to the middle men as justice said after legalisation those who have big money to invest and the managerial capability will run the business and women who are from outside the country, minors, HIV positive women will not be allowed to operate openly as they will be denied license to practice. As they have nowhere to go and as they are under the control of the pimps and brothel keepers they will be made to f go underground. Once underground the level of violence and exploitation against themshoots up to no limits as they cannot seek any protection or support of law. As they are not registered or documented they are denied all other welfare and developmental benefits.

Ritika Pandey February 5, 2009 at 12:35 AM  

I agree that it should be legal . Lots of good people with small incomes are forced to live in areas considered strolls . That is prostitutes work on their street , pimps beat said prostitutes in front of their children and needles and used condoms are on their lawns everyday . We need to legalize it so that we can create a red light district it will be safer for the workers , safer for the johns , it would create revenue instead of cost the city money to monitor numerous strolls and jail offenders . More importantly it would take this adult industry out of our streets away from our children .
I don't see how anyone can argue with :
1) child safety and security
2) Prostitute safety and security
3) John safety and security .
4) tax revenue and health safety
5) free's up third shift police officers to do real crime fighting .

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:35 AM  

Probably would be much better to learn about sex from an experienced consenting partner. If that happens to be a government inspected prostitute working out of a reputable brothel then I can say in all honesty that I'm ok with that. There are plenty of other ways to experience sex for the uninitiated, that are far more harmful.

And yeah pregnancy and stds can be pretty damaging.
They way you use it here sounds like the only drawback of jumping out of a plane without a parachute is the landing, other than that it's all good.

Leaving it up to kids to find someone else, probably someone from their peer group, to sort it all out for each other has traditionally resulted in near epidemic problems in some areas.

But we're not really talking about that here. The focus is on the benefits of the switch to a legalized and regulated prostitutiion industry.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:35 AM  

Not at all. Your argument is all. "What if..." My argument is that we should be striving for the ideal, not throwing our hands in the air and saying. "Whatever". Just because something is legal and regulated doesn't mean it is not harmful. Your argument about the parachute is inapplicable in this case. Yes. Two people who feel intimacy learning from one another is fine in my book. We should be setting the scenario up to succeed. Read "Sexpolitik" by Wilhelm Reich and you will see what I mean.

Shalini Chopra February 5, 2009 at 12:36 AM  

Because sex is a physiological need? I know its cute you want to counteract nature. But mankind evolved to breed, like all animals. You go insane without sex.

And in Maslow land "intimacy" is not the term used. I use it here because people were implying romantic intimacy had to be intimate. Family bonds with your daughter are not the same and do not fill the same human need. So thats waaaay off base and getting away from the issue. I hope out of confusion and not by trying to derail a debate with willfully wrong information.

As for Nun's and Catholic priests, I think that one has been put to rest. Through the ages very few priests and nun's have suppressed that need for long term. Many who do are that segment of the population born without a sex drive.


Sex is a physiological drive, like hunger and need for sleep. Those have to be met first. Then come needs of safety and security. THEN come needs for love, belonging and family connections (including romantic relationships). After that comes the need for esteem such as status and reputation. And the last stage is the need for self fulfillment and growth.

Basically, no matter what else: You cannot be happy until you have food, sleep, sex and shelter.

Shalini Chopra February 5, 2009 at 12:36 AM  

If you have all that, then you need security and protection. But if you don't have lower order needs (like you don't have food) you will sacrifice security and protection for it. This is why despite the risks people go to prostitutes.

Then if you have all that, you need family connections, friends and a relationship. But you will sacrifice and put this at risk for a lower level need. Even if you have a happy family and love your spouse, if you are in a sexless marriage you will risk it all for sex. This why many affairs happen. This isn't just related to physiological needs either. Many people will leave their family for security needs too, such as going away for long periods of time to send money to keep their home life stable. Or sometimes they just go and leave to work themselves and get a stable life (then having met that need try and make ammends to the abandoned family)

Shalini Chopra February 5, 2009 at 12:37 AM  

After than comes the need for esteem. Reputation and social standing. The need to be respected and important. But, this too will be abandoned for low level needs, be it risking everything to get oral treatment from an intern (physiological needs) or deciding you don't give a damn what others think and choosing to stand by your friends/family/spouse (lower level need, belonging)

And the last thing is self-actualization and growth. Once you have everything else behind you , you will strive to better yourself for its own sake, and that will be what makes you happy. In lower levels you will still better yourself, but those times are to achieve needs. (Ie, I will learn to hunt so I can eat, I will learn to drive so I can get a job and have security, I will go to college so I can get the good job and support a family, I will take these courses so im elligible for promotion and get the status I want), When you hit self actualization you grow for the sole purpose of growing (I will learn to be a carpenter, because hey, its fun to learn to be a carpenter even though i'll never use the knowledge)

Tulip Banerjee February 5, 2009 at 12:39 AM  

Well, I think I heard of someone in Calgary that paid a hooker 1500 just to crawl around the floor and talk mean to him. If you don't believe my numbers go ask some hocker how much for a hand job. I bet you at least talking 100 to 150 dollars. And yeah, I'm talking about the hot ones in there 20. Not cheap looking ones. I saw a documentary on prostitution. Some high class ones charge 10 000 dollars just for one weekend.

It might be hard for them to buy property though. The tax man might have questions. As for how many perhaps in Calgary you may see 10 or 20 on the street that take in a decent amount on the weekended. There could be a lot more that work on a call in basis. In other cities they might not do as well but there is a lot of money in Calgary and more guys in the city then girls. There are probably a lot more tricks going on then you know about.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:39 AM  

However it is called 'the oldest profession' and will never be erased because of demand. I don't approve of it but I do believe that those who decide to work in this line need to be protected. Both pimps and many johns do put these workers in danger. Also due to disease etc this workers put their clients in danger. Legalization would protect both the client and worker (forget the pimps they can rot in hell). The pimping style of prostitution is what brings the criminal element to the streets and there is only one way to eliminate or at least significantly reduce this problem.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:40 AM  

Men sell their bodies out to corporations for the purpose of performing labour, they hold a lot of pride in themself for their work, why would it be any different for a woman?
Women are more then vagina's,they have brains and they are better at using them. Prostitution is neither ethical or morally right. It degrades a human to being just a slab of meat,any looser can have sex but not any looser can make the deal.Since women have brains maybe they want to use them and get out of a man's kitchen and bed

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:40 AM  

Make it legal and get it off the street.?? What is that????????

Let me get this straight you think it is all right to buy a woman like you buy a pair of shoes. Women are not merchandise When you go out today it is off to the diner,buy a pair of shoes then go to the next building and buy a woman.Go back to your cave

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:40 AM  

Prostitution should be illegal it devalues a person.It would never be that easy anyway,just get the women off the streets and in a nice warm bed for me?There are some people who feel worth less so our society should make sure they feel even less human and spiritual. Which is what women are Human and spiritual and nurturing . What would the World be like without Women? Nothing.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:40 AM  

First, is prostitution only a male client/female provider service? There are no male prostitutes? And no female customers?

Second, what is so special about non-procreative sex that it belongs in a different category of human endeavour? My massage therapist makes me feel good; carpenters use their bodies for money, dancers train their bodies and perform for us, for money.

So is it the orgasm that changes everything? How, exactly?

No, I don't think it is alright to buy anyone like a pair of shoes - but we are all rented. It's called having a job. To purchase someone is for them to be your slave.

Slavery is probably a bad thing. Something about taking someone's humanity away. Oh, and their freedom.

You seem to believe that no woman (or man, presumably) would ever freely choose to work in the sex trade. Sorry, Adahen, but perhaps there are no history books or newspapers in you cave (there are in mine) - throughout history, men and women have chosen to make their livings on their backs - some have done quite well.

You say that prostitution is neither ethical nor right. Before I address your totally unsupported opinion, I would like you to tell me what the difference is between an "ethical" act and a "right" one.

Your confusion with simple language might be a sign of your muddled thinking.

To the question of ethics: I'm a prostitute, and there is a customer. We negotiate services offered, and what the prices are. We come to terms, have sex, I get paid, and the customer leaves.

Where do ethics enter into this?

Look at this another way: I'm a baker, and there is a hungry customer. Customer asks for a roll, or perhaps sticky buns, and I ask for money. The price seems right, and my buns are certainly tempting, so my buns are enjoyed, and I'm a little richer. Everybody's happy.

Adahen, avoiding insults like "going back to (my) cave" will go a long way to fostering constructive dialogue.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:41 AM  

They will continue to do this the same way before it was legal. You can't think of this as totally black or white (illegal or legal). There is also a gray area. What happens to those prostitutes that don't pass the medical exam? Are they going to stop being prostitutes? Probably not.. Are drugs, alchohol, and violence still going to be used to control prostitutes? Probably... Will the pimps disappear when prostitution is legalized? I don't think so, they will probably morph into businessmen and now make their money legally.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:43 AM  

There is no guarantee that legalizing prostition will magically take them ALL off the streets. I understand the benefits of legalizing prostitution (ie. Health benefits, WCB, Protection, unionization, etc), but it doesn't really solve the problem. Sure, some will migrate from the streets to the brothel, but what about the rest?

You mention market forces in your previous post... yes, I agree, so now brothels will be popping up everywhere. All competing for business... which means that there will be hiring practices for prostitutes that cater to the tastes of clients. The desired prostitutes will make it into the brothel while others may not. Which leads us back to square one... where do think the undesired prostitutes will end up? Where do you think undesired clients will go looking for enjoyment?

Anyway, last time I checked, prositutes are still allowed to call the cops. It's not like the cops are going to say.. "Oh well, too bad, you're a prostitute. We can't help you."

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:43 AM  

No. that's not my position. My understanding is that legalizing it would help the worst of the worst in the sex trade by providing them with benefits, rights, protection, etc. However, as I've tried to explain, I've come to the conclusion that it's not really going to work. The worst of the worst will still be that way and the decent ones (who demand the big bucks) are most likely already in escort services, brothels, instead of out on the street.

I'm all for legalizing prostitution if the solution works to help the worst of the worst prostitutes... because they are the ones who are suffering.

Mehnaaz February 5, 2009 at 12:44 AM  

At the very least, changes to the prostitution laws are overdue. The Fraser report was released back in 1986 after extensive studies and consultations which showed how ineffective and contradictory the current laws are.

In Canada it is perfectly legal to buy sex and sell sex. In Canada it is illegal to buy or sell sex in a safe manner. The law sanctions the existence of a contact sex trade and then proceeds to strip its consumers and workers of all forms of safety and dignity.

They have had two decades to do something about it and have done nothing, that is the worrisome aspect.

Mehnaaz February 5, 2009 at 12:44 AM  

How about the disabled clients, like quadripeligics, who aren't interested in sex but want someone to talk to? How about these clients, who due to their disabilities or disfigurements are unable to attract a mate but feel the need for social intimacy?

Furthermore, what about the male prostitutes? Also, why isn't a woman free to choose what to do with her sexuality? How are these prostitutes sex toys? They still have the choice to refuse clients. Except under these current laws where transactions must be rushed and the prostitute may make a bad call because she doesn't have time to ask questions.

That is a very narrow minded view to hold, especially as it discounts all the work done by pro-prostitution feminists around the world and ignores the plight of the male and trans-gendered prostitute. Calling these people sex toys and dehumanizing them in that way is far more denigrating than the choices of the workers and the clients.

Tracy February 5, 2009 at 12:46 AM  

As soon as prostitution and soliciting for the purposes of prostitution are completely legal, that opens the door for government regulation. Prostitution should be government regulated. Prostitutes should have to be a minimum age, be required to tested for communicable diseases, not allowed to work while they are infectious, pay into a pension fund, belong to a union...

No I would not want anyone to work as a prostitute, but in a free country consenting adults should be free to whatever they want as long as they don't harm others or burden society. My morals or any else's morals are beside the point. What important is that harm to the individual and to society is minimized. The current system involves minors, contributes to the spread of disease and in general has very poor and dangerous working conditions.

Anouska Awasthi February 5, 2009 at 1:34 AM  

there was no point in being reluctant, its part of our ugly social set up n relishes bcoz of so-called 'Civilised Society'.

That was good work.
Regards

Prachi Pandey February 5, 2009 at 8:49 AM  

We are all murderers and prostitutes --no matter to what culture, society, class, nation one belongs, no matter how normal, moral, or mature, one takes oneself to be.

Prachi Pandey February 5, 2009 at 8:49 AM  

PROSTITUTION is a crime, the message conveyed is that women who are sexual are ''bad'', and therefore legitimate victims of sexual assault. Sex becomes a weapon to be used by men.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 8:51 AM  

There is no more defiant denial of one man's ability to possess one woman exclusively than the prostitute who refuses to redeemed.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:05 AM  

It is preferable to legalise the trade at least to have a database of those involved who can be monitored and checked.

This way the government can identify sex workers and educate them on the use of protection

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

well written post

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

reason mentioned above for legalisaing prostitution or homosexuality should be explained in details because it does not seem to be sufficient for the same.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

very much disagree with the above copmment, under restriction HIV is spreading by prostitution, how come a legalisation will help.It will be like giving liscence to crime.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:11 AM  

The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men but rather their conqueror, an outlaw who controls the sexual channel between nature and culture.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:11 AM  

We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is PROSTITUTION.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:11 AM  

People call me feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:11 AM  

The greatest nations have all acted like gangsters and the smallest like prostitutes.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:13 AM  

If its legalised,then there could be a possibility that more women may be pushed or exploited into the profession.

On the other side,if its legalised...the number of rapes,eve teasing may come down....

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 9:14 AM  

That sounds silly ..... men dont rape or eve tease because they r sexually desperate ... it ll only encourage men to view all women in the wrong sense ....

Dr. Pragya bajaj February 5, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

The current laws in India that legislate sex workers are fairly ambiguous. It is a system where prostitution is legally allowed to thrive, but which attempts to hide it from the public. The primary law dealing with the status of sex workers is the 1956 law referred to as the The Immoral Traffic (Suppression) ActImmoral Traffic in Persons Act

The Immoral Traffic Persons Act or PITA is a bit of legislation passed in India in 1956 as a result of the India signi...
(SITA). According to this law, sex work in India is neither legal nor illegal; it is tolerated since prostitutes can practice their trade privately but cannot legally solicit customers in public. As long as it is done individually and voluntarily, a woman (male prostitution is not recognized in the Indian constitution) can use her body's attributes in exchange for material benefit. Once she is joined by another engaging in the same practice, the premises being utilized is recognized as a brothel and the act becomes illegal. In particular, the law forbids a sex worker to carry on her profession within 200 yards of a public place. Unlike as is the case with other professions, however, sex workers are not protected under normal workers laws, and are not entitled to minimum wage benefits, compensation for injury or other benefits that are common in other types of work. They do, however, possess the right to rescue and rehabilitation if they desire and possess all the rights of other citizens. In practice this is not common. The Indian Penal CodeIndian Penal Code

Indian Penal Code provides a penal code for all of India including Jammu and Kashmir, where it was renamed the Ranbir Pen...
(IPC) which predates the SITA is often used to charge sex workers with vague crimes such as "public indecencyPublic indecency

Public indecency refers to activity prohibited by the law in many locations....
" or being a "public nuisance" without explicitly defining what these consist of. Recently the old lawLaw

Law is the set of rules or norms of conduct which forbid, permit or mandate specified actions and relationships among people...
has been amended as The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) ActImmoral Traffic in Persons Act

The Immoral Traffic Persons Act or PITA is a bit of legislation passed in India in 1956 as a result of the India signi...
or PITA. Attempts to amend this to criminalise clients
have been opposed by the Health Ministry,
and has encountered considerable opposition

Dr. Pragya bajaj February 5, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

Most of the research done by SanlaapSanlaap

Sanlaap is an Indian feminist NGO, established in 1987....
indicates that the majority of sex workers in India work as prostitutes due to lacking resources to support themselves or their children. Most do not choose this profession out of preference, but out of necessity, often after the breakup of a marriage or after being disowned and thrown out of their homes by their families. The children of sex workers are much more likely to get involved in this kind of work as well. A survey completed in 1988 by the All Bengal Women's UnionAll Bengal Women's Union

The West Bengal Women's Union was started in the 1932, when a group of women in West Bengal formed a cadre of like-minded wo...
interviewed a random sample of 160 sex workers in Calcutta and of those, 23 claimed that they had come of their own accord, whereas the remaining 137 women claimed to have been introduced into the sex trade by agents of various sorts. The breakdown was as follows:


Neighbour in connivance with parents: 7
Neighbours as pimps (guardians not knowing): 19
Aged sex workers from same village or locality: 31
Unknown person/accidental meeting with pimp: 32
Mother/sister/near relative in the profession: 18
Lover giving false hope of marriage or job and selling to brothel: 14
Close acquaintance giving false hope of marriage or job: 11
"Husband" (not legally married): 3
Husband (legally married): 1
Young college student selling to brothel and visiting free of cost: 1

Dr. Palki Vajpayee February 5, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

MumbaiMumbai

Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay, is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, and the most populous city of India, wi...
and KolkataKolkata Summary

Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal....
(Calcutta) have the country's largest brothel based sex industry, with over 100,000 sex workers in Mumbai. It is estimated that more than 50% of the sex workers in Mumbai are HIV-positive. In SuratSurat

Surat is a port city in the Indian state of Gujarat and administrative headquarters of the Surat District....
, a study discovered that HIVHIV Overview

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a retrovirus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome , a condition i...
prevalence among sex workers had increased from 17% in 1992 to 43% in 2000.

A positive outcome of a prevention program among prostitutes can be found in SonagachiSonagachi

Sonagachi, translated as Golden Tree, is the largest red-light district in Kolkata, India....
, a red-light district in Kolkata. The education program targeted about 5,000 female prostitutes. A team of two peer workers carried out outreach activities including education, condom promotion and follow-up of STI cases. When the project was launched in 1992, 27% of sex workers reported condom use. By 1995 this had risen to 82%, and in 2001 it was 86%. Reaching women who are working in brothels has proven to be quite difficult due to the sheltered and secluded nature of the work, where pimps, Mashis, and brothel-keepers often control access to the women and prevent their access to education, resulting in a low to modest literacy rate for many sex workers.

Consistently high HIVHIV

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a retrovirus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome , a condition i...
infection rates among sex workers (50% or more among Mumbai's female sex worker population since 1993), coupled with lack of information, failure to use protection, and the migrancy of their clients , may contribute to the spread of AIDS in the region and the country .

Dr. Palki Vajpayee February 5, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

One glorifying topic this one!!!...which would pull all chauvinists into discussion.
...aligning away from all those pros and cons type of discussion I would just mention that a day would come in the indian family where a son would say-" Dad, increase my pocket Money,I need to visit a prostitute" or a daughter saying- "I don't need your money dad, I'm independent, I work part time".
So legalisation is totally out of question.
But then,then there is no law which can prevent a woman from having consentual sex irrespective of whether she has taken money or not!!The only thing is that it shouldn't affect the morality of the public. So here I would say that prostitution should be confined to such areas where general public and children are kept out...after all it is the oldest profession!!...but gaurav how could you ever imagine that constitution would define prostitution?..?????

Shweta Saxena February 5, 2009 at 9:18 AM  

This seems to be turning into a very interesting discussion. I think I particularly enjoyed reading vvijayab's comments. I have always preferred taking a legal approach to prostitution. My understanding is that sex workers need legal protection, proper insurance against health hazards and also regular health checks to take care of those that might be affected with HIV or other STDs. So contrary to one opinion expressed in this discussion that it will encourage large scale sex and rapid spread of AIDS, I'd beg to differ. I think a more regularised procedure that requires customers visiting prostitutes to register themselves or at least disclose their ages together with their health assessments, might discourage some youngsters from venturing into forbidden territories at a young age. It might help curb spread of HIV too. Social stigma associated with visiting prostitutes encourages secret activity in this sphere which is dangerous.

Regarding Chanda's comments whether poverty forcing women to take up prostitution can be seen as sex by choice. Well, I just have one point to make on that which is that it is very hard to decide what will be "sex by choice" in that case. I think economic necessity driving a person into a particular profession is to an extent a conscious choice (though of course in this case there might be a lot of other pressures). If the same woman decides to earn another level of income by working as a sweeper in the streets or as a washerwoman, that too is economic need driving her into the occupation and it is "sweeping by choice" or "washing by choice". My point is that poverty is a condition, a constraint or rather a circumstance in one's life and it is under this constraint she/he has to make an optimal choice keeping in mind her/his own understanding of her/his comfort level together with her/his values. (Yes, prostitution is there for guys too....but I guess it is often seen largely with connotations for females....so I'll generally stick to the convention except noting that it is there for guys too.)

In Chanda's doubt I see an implicit assumption that no one would practice prostitution by choice and although it does seem to be a realistic assumption, I wonder if the generalisation is indeed universal. Some women might indeed see it as a convenient source of income despite associated health problems. (People smoke too despite knowing about its health effects, except they are not paid for smoking). But I am wary of pressure from family or some mean brokers forcing women into prostitution against their wishes. I think that is a real challenge in allowing legalization for prostitution (a point that vvijayab brought up).

Having said all this, I generally agree that Indians in general are not really prepared to handle legal prostitution at the moment and maturity and education is still lacking.

अनु मिश्रा February 5, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

Legalising prostitution would plainly mean the recognition of "Prostitution" by the state as a legal and a legitimate profession just as any other.It would be institutionalised. Prostitution would then receive the status, treatment and protection on par with other professions.
Hypothetically, I would like to imagine that it would be included more aptly under the 'services' sector. It would be included in the tertiary industry and the incomes earned from the prostitutes would go into calculating the G.N.P.
Eventually, the government would levy taxes and concessions for the welfare of the prostitutes. A detailed set of codes, rules and regulations wuld be brought about to monitor the acts of prostitutes and the men who would visit them.

In its more general sense prostitution is the setting one's self to sale or devoting to infamous purposes what is in one's power. In its more restricted and legal sense, it is the practice of a female offering her body to an indiscriminate intercourse with men, as distinguished from sexual intercourse confined to one man, or as sometimes stated, common lewdness of a woman for gain; the act of permitting a common and indiscriminate sexual intercourse for hire.It is not a crime per se.
S 2(f) of Immoral Traffic Act defines it as the act of a female offering her body for promiscous sexual intercourse for hire, whether in Money or kind.
Now a question arises- "Is a woman who offers herself to her boss for a quick promotion(gain) prostitute?
As a verb its definition is to offer freely to a lewd use or to indiscriminate lewdness. As an adjective it means openly devoted to lewdness; sold to wickedness or infamous practices. A female may live in a state of illicit carnal intercourse with a man for many years without being called a prostitute.
One serious fallout by legalising prostitute is that- under sec 372 of I.P.C, adoption of a daughter by a dance girl would be an offense if it was done with the intention that such person shall at any age be employed or used for prostitution. Now if it is legalised, it would encourage more dance girls to adopt daughters which would end up in sale of girls.

And officer Chanda, whether consent has been free or under duress does not hold good in prostitution. There is a presumption of free consent. Consent of a women is as mysterious as she herself. Again you made me remember the age old question- "what is it that women really want"
Irrespective of consent,don't you think officer that a prostitute, at any point of time in having sex doesn't derive pleasure at all?While she takes pleasure, the men get pleasure.!!

Preeti February 5, 2009 at 9:20 AM  

i dont think that day would ever come. it hasn't come even in western countries.

to my knowledge, there is no law that says prostitution per se is illegal. yes, trafficking is illegal, that is forcibly inducing woman to prostitution. so the words legalising prostitution have to be defined properly. does this mean that we have a system of issuing licenses or permits or something like that? or may be enabling the women into prostitution to pay taxes?

The other debate thats worth giving a thought to about sex work is whether women can ever consent to engaging in sex work. The argument raised by many is that the act of taking up sex work has two possibilities; either the woman was coerced and therefore trafficked, or, even if she has exercised choice, it would hardly be considered a choice because it would always be exercised under duress- of extreme poverty or deprivation. so the phrase sex by consent itself is debatable.

i remember harsha to be a lawyer. may be he can elaborate more on that. a detailed argument from you wold do a lot to improve the awareness of all of us here,

Preeti February 5, 2009 at 9:21 AM  

that was well written post

sdaryanani February 5, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

It was a well argumented article. . I however am till a firm believer of legalization and transperancy. The data collected after in shonagachi may/is not necessarily proportional to the success/failure of legalization. While I agree that legalization could and does create a multitude of head aches, i also do believe tht in the long run a mechanization to ensure that prostitution is a profession by choice and not be force could be created. As the law of economics states, as long as there is demand there will be supply, don't you personally believe that the free trade structure may no t apply over here. For every G.B road that is raided and closed there will be 10 other lanes and roads which will spring up, bringing with it women who are dragged into the profession. These are just my two cents. However, all in all a very well documented and informed arguement

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

well written article, well iformed n well documented

Jyoti Dixit February 5, 2009 at 4:45 PM  

The worst of the worst will still be that way and the decent ones (who demand the big bucks) are most likely already in escort services, brothels, instead of out on the street.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:07 PM  

Hmm ... This is a difficult subject. I mean regardless of whether it is legal or not people are still going to do it anyway right? Surely legalising it however will show an increase in the amount of females & males selling themselves for a little bit of money. I know it has been going on for many years however it is dangerous for both males and females to be on the streets. Only recently in the news we all heard about them young females who were murdered. For this reason, I think prostitution should be legalised to make people safer as they are going to do it anyway. Yet on the other hand, maybethis news has shown people how at risk they are and have stopped doing it? ( probably not ) but it could?

Prostitutes obviously need help regardless, to be in the situation where you sell sex you must be very desperate. This could include the need to fuel a drug addiction. We as a society should help these people so that they do not have to turn to such low standards.

This is just my opinion, I'm not sure either way. It's not right but it's not going to stop happening unless something drastic happens

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:08 PM  

Prostitution is widely believed to be one of the oldest jobs in the world, dating back to Babylonian times (around 600BC)! It has though, relatively recently, taken an turn for the worst and has become largely frowned upon in modern society and in the eyes of the media, which is probably why so many of these reviews are dead against the idea of legalising the age old trade of prostitution. Personally I believe that prostitution should be legalised, and my reasons for my point of view are below.

Firstly, as you might expect, prostitutes are particularly susceptible to picking up sexually transmitted diseases, some of which are more serious than others, however are large majority are very treatable if they are diagnosed early or at all. Since prostitution is currently legal there aren't the facilities available to prostitutes who work illegally at the moment to be treated for these diseases. Legalising prostitution would allow prostitutes to be screened regularly for STI's. Whilst people might argue that it would be a prostitutes own fault for contracting a disease. This may be true, but it is a very short sighted. Future "legitimate" partners of prostitutes will then also be put at risk of contraction disease and infections, which would eventually cause a chain reaction of people being infected, no doubt causing many, many more people to be infected further down the line.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:08 PM  

I am not saying that there will be no disadvantages of legalising prostitution. Arguably it would allow society to become sleazy and give the country a reputation accordingly. That's why if I was the one passing the act legalising prostitution I would add a conditional clause, which states that people who are currently working as prostitutes must be searching to find another job, with aid and assistance provided by the government.

We must not forget that there has been decades of negative media attention and social rejection towards prostitutes. Passing legislation to legalise prostitution will not reverse this. Women (or men) who are prostitutes will not suddenly be seen in a different light by society, thus the job will be no more desirable. It is highly unlikely that the amount of people who work as prostitutes would suddenly experience a massive rise.

In conclusion, I think what we forget is that people who are prostitutes generally do not do so because it is an easy life or good money. It is quite the opposite, and in fact I personally believe that if research was done we would find that a large percentage of prostitutes only do the job so that they can supply their families with money and also (unfortunately) to feed drug habits. Neither of these problems are impossible to solve, and we need a kick start to begin the healing of them. The legalisation of prostitution may be exactly what is needed

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

It's an age old question speaking about 'the oldest profession in the world' I don't know if it is, but people always say it don't they. There is obviously the for and against argument


For

So what are the good bits if it was legalised, you get it off the streets which is a good thing, the workers and punters would generally be safer indoors, with other people if it was policed or had regulations like any other business. This would, in turn reduce diseases, attacks on both the worker and punters.

It would be taxable - just like any other job, bringing more money into the economy.

It would stop sex workers relying on pimps to some extent, people would be more self reliant.


Against

If it was legalised, meaning the premises would have to be licensed, so would the workers which would cost them money. I would suspect workers who take up prostitution for drug money or any other sort of debt- ad hoc hookers would not want to pay this start up charge and would be on the streets anyway.

Prostitution is still illegal and the police do not have the time (or inclination I would think) to lock up every single prostitute, so even if there were legalised brothels this potentially would not make a difference.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

In conclusion - for me - I am not sure. Initially the 'for' argument was fine for me, but as I explored the possibilities, especially in our culture, even though this does work in other countries.

For us I am not sure it would work as there would still be illegal prostitutes on the street. I think sometimes it is glamorised to be more 'confessions of a call girl' than its stark reality that very very rarely (if ever) people get into prostitution because they like it. I doubt it is a profession of choice.

I'm sure people live with it because they have to. In principle I agree with prostitution, this gives men a fairly honest way of having relations with a lady and that lady then gets paid. I would suspect if it disappeared we may have more date rapes and sexual assaults as some men obviously need this outlet (or there wouldn't be prostitutes)

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:12 PM  

One glorifying topic this one!!!...which would pull all chauvinists into discussion.
...aligning away from all those pros and cons type of discussion I would just mention that a day would come in the indian family where a son would say-" Dad, increase my pocket Money,I need to visit a prostitute" or a daughter saying- "I don't need your money dad, I'm independent, I work part time".
So legalisation is totally out of question.
But then,then there is no law which can prevent a woman from having consentual sex irrespective of whether she has taken money or not!!The only thing is that it shouldn't affect the morality of the public. So here I would say that prostitution should be confined to such areas where general public and children are kept out...after all it is the oldest profession!!...but gaurav how could you ever imagine that constitution would define prostitution?..?????

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:12 PM  

Prostitution is accepted differently in different countries. In countries where it is accepted such as Netherlands, UK, US, NZ, Canada, Barzil and all there are strong laws to guide and govern them and people of the country follow the rules religiously. Even this sector is one that goes through lots of health hazards and require health insurance coverage, which is by law and these business pay taxes. It's a big market and business can advertise. In countries where it is not accpeted such as Sudan, Thailand and so on have stricter laws for it not to happen and severe punishment. All this is becuase of the culture and mindset of the people living there. Bringing India into perspective, would like to put following basics:
a) India still has good part of population that is poor and gets driven into unlawful easier means to get good bucks and for women bars, brotherls are a good way. Legalizing it would be a boon for pimps.
b) Education is getting better and literacy rate is increasing, but our mindset is not changing at the same rate. Maturity is still lacking.
c) Culturally, men (not all) is lazy and expects to get free food and luxury. Women is a bovine who like to go with the her husbands decisions. If women is asked by husband to get into prostitution then she will get into for the sake of family.

Other then the above prostitution give rise to criminalization, trafficking and so on. We already have lots of things to set right and making prostitution legalize will be a bane.

We have laws that says child below 14 should not work. If we got a Tea shop and ask the lad his age then he will say 14 and we even knowing that he is not leave him thinking he has got some personnel problems which we can't help. When we does this we lost a change to make things better. We have to get resposible, matured, shred the selfish attitude and yes after that we can give this topic another thought.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:13 PM  

Prostitution is accepted differently in different countries. In countries where it is accepted such as Netherlands, UK, US, NZ, Canada, Barzil and all there are strong laws to guide and govern them and people of the country follow the rules religiously. Even this sector is one that goes through lots of health hazards and require health insurance coverage, which is by law and these business pay taxes. It's a big market and business can advertise. In countries where it is not accpeted such as Sudan, Thailand and so on have stricter laws for it not to happen and severe punishment. All this is becuase of the culture and mindset of the people living there. Bringing India into perspective, would like to put following basics:
a) India still has good part of population that is poor and gets driven into unlawful easier means to get good bucks and for women bars, brotherls are a good way. Legalizing it would be a boon for pimps.
b) Education is getting better and literacy rate is increasing, but our mindset is not changing at the same rate. Maturity is still lacking.
c) Culturally, men (not all) is lazy and expects to get free food and luxury. Women is a bovine who like to go with the her husbands decisions. If women is asked by husband to get into prostitution then she will get into for the sake of family.

Other then the above prostitution give rise to criminalization, trafficking and so on. We already have lots of things to set right and making prostitution legalize will be a bane.

We have laws that says child below 14 should not work. If we got a Tea shop and ask the lad his age then he will say 14 and we even knowing that he is not leave him thinking he has got some personnel problems which we can't help. When we does this we lost a change to make things better. We have to get resposible, matured, shred the selfish attitude and yes after that we can give this topic another thought.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:13 PM  

Legalising prostitution would plainly mean the recognition of "Prostitution" by the state as a legal and a legitimate profession just as any other.It would be institutionalised. Prostitution would then receive the status, treatment and protection on par with other professions.
Hypothetically, I would like to imagine that it would be included more aptly under the 'services' sector. It would be included in the tertiary industry and the incomes earned from the prostitutes would go into calculating the G.N.P.
Eventually, the government would levy taxes and concessions for the welfare of the prostitutes. A detailed set of codes, rules and regulations wuld be brought about to monitor the acts of prostitutes and the men who would visit them.

In its more general sense prostitution is the setting one's self to sale or devoting to infamous purposes what is in one's power. In its more restricted and legal sense, it is the practice of a female offering her body to an indiscriminate intercourse with men, as distinguished from sexual intercourse confined to one man, or as sometimes stated, common lewdness of a woman for gain; the act of permitting a common and indiscriminate sexual intercourse for hire.It is not a crime per se.
S 2(f) of Immoral Traffic Act defines it as the act of a female offering her body for promiscous sexual intercourse for hire, whether in Money or kind.
Now a question arises- "Is a woman who offers herself to her boss for a quick promotion(gain) prostitute?
As a verb its definition is to offer freely to a lewd use or to indiscriminate lewdness. As an adjective it means openly devoted to lewdness; sold to wickedness or infamous practices. A female may live in a state of illicit carnal intercourse with a man for many years without being called a prostitute.
One serious fallout by legalising prostitute is that- under sec 372 of I.P.C, adoption of a daughter by a dance girl would be an offense if it was done with the intention that such person shall at any age be employed or used for prostitution. Now if it is legalised, it would encourage more dance girls to adopt daughters which would end up in sale of girls.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:13 PM  

This seems to be turning into a very interesting discussion. I think I particularly enjoyed reading vvijayab's comments. I have always preferred taking a legal approach to prostitution. My understanding is that sex workers need legal protection, proper insurance against health hazards and also regular health checks to take care of those that might be affected with HIV or other STDs. So contrary to one opinion expressed in this discussion that it will encourage large scale sex and rapid spread of AIDS, I'd beg to differ. I think a more regularised procedure that requires customers visiting prostitutes to register themselves or at least disclose their ages together with their health assessments, might discourage some youngsters from venturing into forbidden territories at a young age. It might help curb spread of HIV too. Social stigma associated with visiting prostitutes encourages secret activity in this sphere which is dangerous.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:14 PM  

Regarding Chanda's comments whether poverty forcing women to take up prostitution can be seen as sex by choice. Well, I just have one point to make on that which is that it is very hard to decide what will be "sex by choice" in that case. I think economic necessity driving a person into a particular profession is to an extent a conscious choice (though of course in this case there might be a lot of other pressures). If the same woman decides to earn another level of income by working as a sweeper in the streets or as a washerwoman, that too is economic need driving her into the occupation and it is "sweeping by choice" or "washing by choice". My point is that poverty is a condition, a constraint or rather a circumstance in one's life and it is under this constraint she/he has to make an optimal choice keeping in mind her/his own understanding of her/his comfort level together with her/his values. (Yes, prostitution is there for guys too....but I guess it is often seen largely with connotations for females....so I'll generally stick to the convention except noting that it is there for guys too.)

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:14 PM  

Regarding Chanda's comments whether poverty forcing women to take up prostitution can be seen as sex by choice. Well, I just have one point to make on that which is that it is very hard to decide what will be "sex by choice" in that case. I think economic necessity driving a person into a particular profession is to an extent a conscious choice (though of course in this case there might be a lot of other pressures). If the same woman decides to earn another level of income by working as a sweeper in the streets or as a washerwoman, that too is economic need driving her into the occupation and it is "sweeping by choice" or "washing by choice". My point is that poverty is a condition, a constraint or rather a circumstance in one's life and it is under this constraint she/he has to make an optimal choice keeping in mind her/his own understanding of her/his comfort level together with her/his values. (Yes, prostitution is there for guys too....but I guess it is often seen largely with connotations for females....so I'll generally stick to the convention except noting that it is there for guys too.)

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:14 PM  

In Chanda's doubt I see an implicit assumption that no one would practice prostitution by choice and although it does seem to be a realistic assumption, I wonder if the generalisation is indeed universal. Some women might indeed see it as a convenient source of income despite associated health problems. (People smoke too despite knowing about its health effects, except they are not paid for smoking). But I am wary of pressure from family or some mean brokers forcing women into prostitution against their wishes. I think that is a real challenge in allowing legalization for prostitution (a point that vvijayab brought up).

Having said all this, I generally agree that Indians in general are not really prepared to handle legal prostitution at the moment and maturity and education is still lacking.

regards
Puneet

Er. Nidhi Mishra February 5, 2009 at 5:15 PM  

do you think law actually recognises any profession as legal? law does recognise doing of an act as illegal. and anything not illegal does not need to be separately declared legal. there are many professions which perhaps do not find mention in any law and do not get the benefit of any government schemes. take the case of the profession of a private commercial driver. a commercial driver cant even get an insurance to his life and limb under practical circumstances. or is there any law that says the profession of a painter is legal?

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:16 PM  

there is nothing on this date, (to my limited understanding) that prevents any government to protect the interests of prostitutes, offer schemes to them or give their wards concessions. in many states the government supplies free condoms to the areas where prostitutes are abound and sends special teams of anganwadi workers to cater to the needs of the prostitutes and their wards. i guess its more a matter of mindset than requirement of any legal cover.

infact during my study of ancient history for my civils i read somewhere that one of the dharma shasthras, which were the codes of law and societal behaviour, actually stipulates that the prostitutes should maintain a record of the men who visit them and hand over the list to the local kotwal. some dharma shasthras also advise collection of Money from prostitutes in times of necessity.

arthashasthra also talks of head of department of such activities and setting up state sponsored brothels where every thing related to administration was strictly under the state control. the incomes of the prostitutes were subject to tax. prostitutes were even trained at the expenses of the state. they were protected even after their physical charms were lost by means of appointing them as trainers and nurses.
and remember this was during the time of Ancient India where we were supposed to be wrapped up in traditions and superstitions.

Er. Nidhi Mishra February 5, 2009 at 5:16 PM  

both the acts mentioned above would come under the definition of trafficking and maintenance of brothels which are already punishable under indian law. they are already taken care of irrespective of legal debates over prostitution.

leagal aspects apart, are we, as part of the indian society willing to accept prostitutes whether male or female as equal to any other member of the society? would we find it proper to call a prostitute by his/her profession like we say "doctor saab" or "rickshaw wala" or "kaam wali bai" or "doodhwala" and still not be frowned at? is it not usual that we find people treating the word "prostitute" as an abuse of the greatest order? in any language, the greatest insult to any woman is to call her a prostitute. is it not a clear indiactaion of the fact that indian society sill not accept prostitution as moral if not legal? so dont we need to address the problem at a social level before we even ponder to deal with it at a legal level?

i would like some of you contributing on these lines as well. thinking beyond what is apparent or proactive thinking; whatever you call it helps a lot.

Priya Talwar February 5, 2009 at 5:19 PM  

I read all the comments, but really, didn't understand why everyone's trying to hide behind reasons..be it plight of sexual workers, or women, or even lower or weaker strata of the society. If the Question is put on me, certainly a 'no' would come..simply because i dont want to see billboards, magazines or any media shouting slogans like pretty girls available or have the pleasure of your life! If personal right is the question of the day, then why not legitimise bonded labour, or suicide. Why are poor people in Orissa held wrong if they sell their children?

To simply say it, if i agree, it means that i have recognized it as means to obtain pleasure or something that can be sold. If i have children, and they reason for it, the question is going to come back to me that if i thought it isnt a selling commodity, why agree to legalize in the first place and not speak up against it. To come to think of it, it actually threatens the very institution which bears the children with respect.

And about education and maturity, ha!..if aping west blindly, means becoming more mature...then i request to be counted out pls.

Priya Talwar February 5, 2009 at 5:19 PM  

Prostitution is an extreme form of gender discrimination. If women are allowed to become a legitimate commodity, they are consigned as second class. Women's emotions are belong to them somehow. They must not be traded or sold. If the state permits prostitution to florish, a certain portion of each generation women will be lost.

Prostitution causes extreme harm to body & the mind. Women who survive the beatings, rapes, sexually harassed , sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, alcohol, emerged from prostitution ill, traumatized, & often as poor as they entered.The enormity of the sex trading throughout the world is overwhelming, but the only way to proceed is to acknowledge the violence & exploitation for what it is & create remedies accordingly.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

there is a subtle difference kirti. please let it not go without noticing. all the people who have posted are referring to voluntary and 'by consent' prostitution. as i have already mentioned India has enough laws which penalise forced prostitution, trafficking and maintenance of brothels.

when you talk of bonded labour, the term itself denotes it is forced. so is the case with selling of children where the children do not have any other option. but when we talk of legalising prostitution it is always with reference to voluntary prostitution subject to the points already raised in previous posts. in the heart of hearts most of us would be harbouring similar views as you have on prostitution.

there is no doubt, we should do away with this prostitution, voluntary or forced. we might even try to wish it away. but the problem is we simply can't. as administrators and would-be administrators, we have to think practically. when this profession is on for thousands of years, it cannot disappear overnight just because we cant tolerate loud and gaudy billboards. it is in this context that this thread invites views of all members.

and if you read through my post numbered 11 in this thread i have described the system we had in Ancient India as reflected in arthashasthra. so in this context it need not necessarily be a question of aping the west, it could as well be searching back into our own ethos and civilisation. it's trying to find out whats best suited for us.

the only question is this. most of us believe that prostitution is immoral and should not be accepted in law. but are we in a position to eradicate prostitution today considering the fact that we haven't been able to do it for thousands of years and that there are millions of people who make a living on this and that most men who outwardly say they are against this are the ones who really support the institution?

a lot of work needs to be done on the ground as well. dont you all think so?

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

I was not talking about eradication, i never mentioned it. Nor do i mean to wish it away. The point is atleast we should not encourage it. Even murders have not been eradicated from the society eventhough there is a law in place to discourage it. All i was talking about was whether or not, to make a law for or against it.

To say it simply, I dont want to accept a law just because people are suffering or are going to suffer or whether it is prevalent anywhere or not. Agreeing to a law that legalizes it, would amount to not just accepting something immoral but also not telling those who indulge in, that what theyre doing is wrong. By making a law aginst it, perhaps an idea can be delivered that what theyre doing isn't considered right and so is discouraged. Rather, it might even save lives. I oppose because i dont regard the act whether voluntary or involuntary, as a profession. If we really want to respect the act as an institution (marriage), shouldn't we come out in open and declare that it isnt something to be taken for granted. Like, having a law to respect our national flag doesnt really eradicate all disrespecting acts, but it does give an idea to all that flag is our national symbol and it is to be respected.

Examples i wrote were meant to say, that since those acts also go against 'conscience' or are considered immoral acts, therefore laws have been made against them. So what is wrong if there is a law against this too? One argument opposing this says that it is an act of individual's consent and a matter of his/her right. But i think it is an encroachment on the rights of future generation, of children who could or have been born(either discarded or often regarded as illegitimate or orphans). And also of all other silent sufferers who are enduring its effects and not having a voice to speak for them. Another example that comes to my mind is how beggary is discouraged, eventhough we know that they are poor people and might need help. I would definitly want to know the views if something like a law legalizing beggary comes up.

And about Arthashastra, if iam not wrong, people frequently visiting prostitutes were severely punished and also, in few instances it has also been mentioned that prostitutes were part of the spy network of the state. And another intereting piece that i came across, person stealing or causing hurt to royal elephants was also hanged.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

With all that has been discussed in the previous posts...I've been more confused with as to what "legalisation of prostitution means"? And also why is there prostitution only with respect to humans?.......why not other animals like dogs?...
The topic of "legalising prostitution"...isn't it more of a moral discussion than a legal debate?...
Do all women take to prostituion because they are forced into it?....don't they take it up as a profession for a short cut means to luxury?
....And why isn't there any talk of those men(drooling) who visit the pros? Don't such men contribute equally for its survival?.....
To conclude, I would say that-" all men do not want prostitution to be legalised because they don't want their sisters or mothers to become prostitutes and all women; because they do not want to see their brothers or fathers visit a prostitute."
.....are you asking me if I would ever visit a pro?.....hmmm....only in a situation where I am a widower and not finding a perfect mother for my children!! ...after all sex is a self inflicted massage that we all give to ourselves....which is felt in the brain and
..Prostitution is just an expression of the female succubus and the male incubus!!

Priya Talwar February 5, 2009 at 5:21 PM  

read through the discussion once again and I think we have made fair progress on the topic since we started.

My understanding so far is in line with Chandra that yes, indeed, at the heart of hearts we all wish prostitution were not a reality. And I do empathise with Kirti about the possible repercussions and the fallout on the general public. However, the fact, as Chandra has mentioned is that the profession has existed quietly for an extremely long time. With STDs posing an imminent danger, it is a problem not to sidelined. We oughtn't behave like ostriches burying our heads in sand to avoid the hunter but stand up and work towards a rational society that responds to challenges in a pragmatic way instead of closing its eyes to reality or forcibly imposing our personal value judgements on the rest of the society.

By legalising prostitution, I would just hope that the legal safety net is extended to the profession. This should mean that practitioners of this profession should have access to the judiciary in case of grievances or exploitation. Furthermore, adequate medical and health facilities should be available to them and their children ought not be discriminated against or deprived of education so that they at least have choices of alternate careers in future. To this extent, I would even advocate a greater maturity in the societal perception of the profession. Another aspect of legalisation I do think should be there is that certain areas be designated for the practice of the profession so that sex workers are not under constant fear of being thrown into jails any time they have any customers. Certainly, by legalising prostitution, I would not want to promote it and hence billboards showing scantily clad women along roadsides is not what I imply by legalization and probably that is not really needed either. We all understand that prostitution is morally unacceptable by most of us. On most counts of rationality, arguments deploring the profession can be made. However, if circumstances do drive people to adopt it as a means of livelihood, we ought to treat them as the weakest section of our society and be more considerate towards them in terms of legal protection that we can extend to them.

If the above mentioned aspects already exist in the Indian legal code, then I feel that is sufficient. I see that Chandra has pointed out some provisions have already been made for their protection. However, what more needs to be done, has to be thought about. And let's not always see legalization as societal acceptance. There has always been a divergence between laws and norms. Legalization does not necessarily mean that something will become a norm. Hence, I have my reservations with the image of widespread social corruption painted in one of the posts.

Shreya Rajput February 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

All the memebers have given a good debate in this regard. chanda sir , puneet have said well. then, harsha has said brief and hammaring points.
But I personnaly agree with Nethra.Putti. and try to give my view based on moral.
when ever females are regarded, they are considered as a sanctity form and chaste in India. We have history which talked about mother goddess. our indian living practice also emphasised about the purity of womans(femines) in many epic and puranas.
Many rivers were named by the female names which are regarded as purify our sins. So, i am not able to think them as prostitutes.
they are not coming to this work willingly, but by force of poverty,many abusers and even by the next hire system(ie)., forced to come by their parents or mothers who are already in prostitution.
as already said, India looks a female as chaste and will not allow to legalise prostitution because of very heritage value sytem of India. the debate should be returned to alleviating prostitutions rather than legalising.
many womans involved in prostitution by force are not able to say about their problems by mentaly and physically. ofcourse as said by Putti, various abuses are faced by these womans like sexual harrassment, transmitting sexual diseases(ex AIDS ect.,) every day
the stupid customers frequently visit every day. but they think about only their pleasure but they do not think about how they are going to harm their mental and physical health.
then, it paves the way to sexually harass the children. even prostitution can be accepted to 0.01%, but harassing children by sexually can not be accepted 100%.
In Hindu relegion, there is concept in Hindu Temples known as sanctom which means the a place of sanctity(Karuvari in tamil which has the same name to represent both the temple and owary)) and simply simbolising the vowary. I hope all of you know that only the sanctorious persons can enter into the sanctom. like that ,it should not be made dirty by prostitution.
Swami Vivekanada's word-- where the womans are illtreated,then that country will be no more whereever it is and even it is under the care of god.
( It can be seen from our puranas --- Mahabaratha-the gauravas were destroyed by pandavas by avenging for Draupathi.
Ranamayana--the ravana was destroyed with Sri lanka by Rama for Seetha.these puranans shows that we had oposed harassing womans and it was our culture(value system))

Shreya Rajput February 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

source--The Hindu)
Amendment to the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act 1956 is in the making for over two years. Going by the modern standards of performance evaluation, it seems the voting public are getting too little work done by their representatives. The representatives are indecisive on what steps to take.

Prostitution per se is not illegal or criminalised in India but soliciting and trafficking is. The justification for such a dichotomy is as usual safely nestled in age-old beliefs, practices and religion. The law aims to protect the victim without punishing the perpetrators. Prostitution as a means of livelihood is exploitative, repressive and inhuman.

One amendment being heavily debated is whether the client — in effect the demand side — should be punished. Sweden has had some success in bringing down trafficking when it criminalised buying sex. Britain is also considering the move seriously. The argument advanced against this in India is that it would lead to more surreptitiousness and place the victims further at the mercy of police.


Sadly the poorer (weaker) argument is that it would affect livelihood of the sex workers. Does it mean that the government is there only to wring its hands and watch helplessly as people are traded like commodities, forced into a ‘profession’ which can hardly be called that?

Amnesty schemes for tax evaders or defaulters pave the way to legalise their illegal wealth. Why not a scheme to rehabilitate these workers to help them break the vicious cycle of poverty and coercion which condemns them to a life of disease and disrespect?

The entire approach is heavily tilted towards the effect and not the cause. Instead of catering to the ‘vote bank’ minorities, we should address this community which has little voice and a lot to complain about. This is a group which cannot organise itself, burn buses or issue threats to disrupt public life. A realistic solution would be alternative employment and focused provision of basic facilities.

The high profile campaign for the prevention of AIDS can at least in part be diverted to addressing the circumstances which force hapless people into sex trade.


Prostitution is still treated as some ‘foreign’ disease whereas it is, and must be recognised as, a ‘man made’ social evil. The policy and legal framework is to treat it and hardly to root it out. We never find any political leader or public figure taking a stand asking the youth to practise restraint or fidelity. If the ‘supply’ side is too dark and difficult to control, at least the demand can be attacked.

India is blessed with stability and order compared with countries torn by civil war, political instability and the like. It just requires the administration to be committed and interventionist. But given the approach of the establishment which rushes to ban bar dancers rather than bars, maybe it is too much to ask.

We have seen governments steamroll opposition from environmentalists, workers, coalition partners when it comes to economic and political agenda such as SEZs, privatisation or land acquisition but hardly are proactive when it comes to the unfinished social agenda. We have places categorised as ‘red light’ areas beyond the reach of the long arm of the state. Perhaps we can even have areas demarcated for fake currencies, drugs, arms, antiques and so on.

The absence of social anger and condemnation despite having full knowledge of its stigma and consequences remains an enigma. Why do we hesitate to say that, in the first place, it is wrong? Society needs values and they should not be contingent on convenience, laws and individual preference. Larger social interest cannot be held ransom to individual immorality.

Shreya Rajput February 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

The article “Tackling the problem of prostitution” (Open Page, November 11) made some interesting arguments about how prostitution can be eliminated. There is no doubt that prostitution is a demeaning practice. Dealing with it is not easy.

At the risk of sounding clichéd, it must be repeated that it is perhaps the oldest profession and it has continued to be practised despite every effort to end it. The fact that it has survived attempts at regulation for many centuries indicates that regulation in its present form may not be the answer to the issue.

We must necessarily come to terms with the practice and then look at ways to minimise the negative impact of such an activity on society and in particular the vulnerable members in the community. The first step would be to decriminalise prostitution.

The author has rightly pointed out that in India only the seller of the ‘illegal’ service is punishable whereas the buyer goes free. She goes on to cite the example of Sweden where both the seller and the buyer are punishable.

However, my argument is that both the buyer and seller should be allowed to practise the activity in a controlled environment rather than allow governmental action against one or both parties. This will eliminate middlemen (pimps) and ensure safety to both the service provider and consumer. The governmental regulation can be aimed at health and hygiene rather than criminal policing.

Sweden has no doubt adopted a successful legislation that has worked well in decreasing the number of prostitutes. However it would be naïve to compare Sweden with India. Sweden is a true welfare state unlike India which only professes to be one. Sweden has enough public resources to offer significant monetary compensation that is equal to or more than lost wages.

The first step in rehabilitation is to compensate the sex workers who are put out of a job. In terms of resources and sheer numbers, we know that it would be nigh impossible to do it in India.

According to UNICEF, child prostitution is rife in certain sections of society through the practice of Devadasi where young children are offered to ‘gods’. In fact, over 100,000 child prostitutes are estimated to be operative in India’s cities. This is despite the Prohibition of Dedication Act of 1982. Other groups include the Joginis, Basavis, the Waghyas (male) and the Muralis.

Legal prostitution will allow the regulation or management of it. Eliminating middlemen, pimps and the police (who are usually on the take) will make the transactions happen within a controlled environment which is economic and safe to both the service provider and the client.

Finally, we need to look at the issue of health. Steen in the bulletin of the World Health Organisation says “it makes practical sense to monitor prostitution and what better way is there to monitor it than by legalising and regulating it?”

In a country like India which is reeling under the pressure of sexually transmitted diseases there needs to be monitoring and regulation of hazardous consequences of high risk sexual activity. It cannot obviously be done on an invisible population functioning underground.

Selling sex is no doubt an undignified proposition. We will have to deal with it pragmatically rather than emotionally. When we reach the standards of Sweden, politically and economically, we may be able to provide solace for the exploited. It may take a long time.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:23 PM  

Legalisation of prostitution can create no problem.Even if you see in the history,so called 'ganika' were given some status.Let people decide about them.But let them give fair opportunity to live in social culture.I t may help to prevent rape cases as well as abuse of girls.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 5:24 PM  

Legalisation of prostitution can create no problem.Even if you see in the history,so called 'ganika' were given some status.Let people decide about them.But let them give fair opportunity to live in social culture.I t may help to prevent rape cases as well as abuse of girls.

Shreya Rajput February 5, 2009 at 5:24 PM  

I understand that there are a lot of positive points to justify the legalisation of prostitution...

But won't it encourage more young women to come into this profession??...

Suppose a family has three neighbouring houses and the women in these three houses 'engage' men after their husbands leave for their works as another source of income... Let there be a woman in the 4th house and by watching the women in the neighbouring houses she may feel that prostitution is more paid than her work and there's a chance for her to fall into this profession...

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 6:57 PM  

well written...

R. Ramesh February 5, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

valid arguments..interesting debate..thanks avi 4 passing by and your motivating comments..

Swati February 5, 2009 at 8:26 PM  

If courtesans and strumpets were to be prosecuted with as much rigour as some silly people would have it, what locks or bars would be sufficient to preserve the honour of our wives and daughters?

Swati February 5, 2009 at 8:27 PM  

good post intresting debate going on

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 8:30 PM  

While many women are working hard to shed light on this horrific problem, I don’t think it will be fixed until men like yourself also see its devastation on humanity and condemn it. It is necessary for men to help in this effort and I encourage more men to become involved. When I lived in Cambodia not far from these sex slave houses, the Western men who visited or worked in town basically came in two shades: those who condoned the slavery and funded it by visiting the brothels and those who quietly condemned it but did not work toward its end. I think more men need to actually work in the effort to free the slaves before it can happen. Blacks were not freed until whites were willing to help them.

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

It’s nice to hear so many Western liberals (and conservatives) expressing concern for what good for third world women. However, doesn’t liberal philosophy dictate that everyone should be allowed to decide for themselves what is good for them? To that end, we should support efforts to stop human trafficking, to improve the lives of poor women, and to empower them to take control of their lives. If some women then choose to remain in prostitution, and want a union, we should listen to them

Anonymous,  February 5, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

The column of women trafficking in India really got my attention. I contacted Ruchira Gupta the next day asking her (as someone from Mexico) how can I help besides sending money. She sent me an email today and I will be doing the Newsletter-Red Light Despatch translation to Spanish. Is not much but at least I feel like I’m doing something for a really good cause. Prostitution is a big problem around underdeveloped countries like India or Mexico and more people should get involve in taking actions, even when is just transmitting the message in other languages..

Swati February 5, 2009 at 8:32 PM  

Your analysis of India is fair, however you present a limited and biased view of China. You target India’s poorest state - Bihar - but not China’s most rural and poor region

Swati February 5, 2009 at 8:32 PM  

find writing in which you express your judgment, in which you explore issues about which you know firsthand enormously useful and interesting in a way that standard journalistic writing just isn’t.

I’m perplexed by this. Is there something special about your posts on the blog? Or are there (well-intentioned) restraints on journalistic writing that limit its interest and usefulness? I don’t know.

I appreciate the posts here a great deal. I find them far more useful than most other writing about similar topics.

Writing that exhibits both passion and thoughtfulness is rare.

Ashok February 5, 2009 at 8:33 PM  

Well-meaning philanthropists, without fully understanding the nuances of these red-light areas, must be wary of what projects they are funding. Approaching the challenges of prostitution and HIV infection requires a knowledge of local languages and cultures. If public health officials are to better the lives of prostitutes in India and elsewhere, simultaneously navigating the challenges of rampant corruption, they must be both sensitive and critical in their approach.

In 1992, the World Health Organization, the National AIDS Control Organization, and the All Indian Institute of Hygiene and Public Health launched the Sonagachi Project, a now-famous venture that sought to evaluate the sexual behavior and HIV prevalence among prostitutes in the red-light district of Sonagachi in Kolkata. The project was a three-month survey examining issues involving the district’s demographics, the sexual behavior of women in prostitution and buyers of prostituted sex, and the prevalence of STDs and HIV among them.

The Sonagachi Project soon turned its leadership over to the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a group of prostitutes who had joined together to fight for their rights and to reduce the transmission of HIV. The Sonagachi Project and the DMSC’s efforts led to a increase in condom use and decrease in HIV infection, and these successes have led many foreign philanthropists – the Gates Foundation, a major donor, among them – to examine why the project was so successful, and assess whether it is replicable elsewhere.

Ashok February 5, 2009 at 8:33 PM  

The Sonagachi Project soon turned its leadership over to the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a group of prostitutes who had joined together to fight for their rights and to reduce the transmission of HIV. The Sonagachi Project and the DMSC’s efforts led to a increase in condom use and decrease in HIV infection, and these successes have led many foreign philanthropists – the Gates Foundation, a major donor, among them – to examine why the project was so successful, and assess whether it is replicable elsewhere.

My own experiences in Kolkata’s red-light areas, however, have made me question how some of this money has been used, and how successful the Sonagachi Project has actually been. Some of these issues have been raised before — the Irish Independent recently published a narrative by Tom Vater, whose time in Sonagachi and with the DMSC led him to draw similar conclusions.

Rashmi February 5, 2009 at 8:43 PM  

Let the libertine reflect a moment on the situation of that woman who, being forsaken by her betrayer, is reduced to the necessity of turning prostitute for bread, and judge of the enormity of his guilt by the evils which it produces. It cannot be doubted but that numbers follow this dreadful course of life with shame, horror, and regret; but where can they hope for refuge? 'The world is not their friend, nor the world's law.' Their sighs, and tears, and groans are criminal in the eye of their tyrants, the bully and the bawd, who fatten on their misery, and threaten them with want or a gaol, if they show the least design of escaping from their bondage

Puja February 5, 2009 at 11:56 PM  

I agree with you , prostitution is the oldest proffession on the planet and there is not a single city in South Asia where you dont have a red light area , we can never control it so it is better to legalise it and introduce safegaurds so that people who are involved get some protection, Now police are having field day along with middle men who make all the bucks and poor victims dont get access to healthcare as well as any saftey. So only since we cannot eradicate it completely its better to streamline it to protect people

Dr. Aradhna February 6, 2009 at 10:01 AM  

Although one of his long-standing fantasies was to open a house of prostitution, the fantasy role he chose for himself was that of cashier

Dr. Neha Srivastav February 6, 2009 at 10:13 AM  

There are strong arguments on both side of the prostitution debate. On the one hand, there are good reasons to want to protect women from sexual exploitation; on the other hand, there are equally good reasons to want to protect anyone from any sort of exploitation when it comes to their job. Why should prostitution be treated differently?

Deepak Barua February 6, 2009 at 10:16 AM  

amazing post, actually iam amazed to think that you did this much of research.... great work.... once i had watched a discussion on news channel, it was regarding prostitutes only and head of sona gachi(in kolkata)said, "because they are there in society, thats why women in homes are safe." think about it....

Dr. Neha Srivastav February 6, 2009 at 10:19 AM  

Religion played an important role in the Civil War - far more important than most people realize. Both sides viewed the conflict in explicitly Christian terms and claimed that God was on their side such that their victories or defeats were signs of God's preferences. Even less well known is the role played by religion in the South after the Civil War. Did Southerners repent of their religious defenses of secession and slavery once they lost? Absolutely not

अनु मिश्रा February 6, 2009 at 12:21 PM  

when indra devtha used to watch dance of urvashi and other women in the heaven. like wise people what to legalize there enjoyment.

all these people who talk about the legalization in prostitution but they forget womens point of view is she agree to do so?

why no women is coming forward for this legalization. its only men when who wants it. he only wants his enjoyment to be legal.

अनु मिश्रा February 6, 2009 at 12:21 PM  

Amendment to the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act 1956 is in the making for over two years. Going by the modern standards of performance evaluation, it seems the voting public are getting too little work done by their representatives. The representatives are indecisive on what steps to take.

Prostitution per se is not illegal or criminalised in India but soliciting and trafficking is. The justification for such a dichotomy is as usual safely nestled in age-old beliefs, practices and religion. The law aims to protect the victim without punishing the perpetrators. Prostitution as a means of livelihood is exploitative, repressive and inhuman.

One amendment being heavily debated is whether the client — in effect the demand side — should be punished. Sweden has had some success in bringing down trafficking when it criminalised buying sex. Britain is also considering the move seriously. The argument advanced against this in India is that it would lead to more surreptitiousness and place the victims further at the mercy of police.


Sadly the poorer (weaker) argument is that it would affect livelihood of the sex workers. Does it mean that the government is there only to wring its hands and watch helplessly as people are traded like commodities, forced into a ‘profession’ which can hardly be called that?

Amnesty schemes for tax evaders or defaulters pave the way to legalise their illegal wealth. Why not a scheme to rehabilitate these workers to help them break the vicious cycle of poverty and coercion which condemns them to a life of disease and disrespect?

Dr. Pragya bajaj February 6, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

No, I think legalising prostiution will give legitimacy to the crimes that have done in past by forcefully pushing minors in the flesh trade, but since the prostitution is already banned in India and being one of the oldest professions there are certain steps that government need to take to tackle the problems that arise because of it.
AIDS
STDS
Human Traffickking

This can be done by issuing may be ID cards to the sex workers on basis of their age and physical condition i.e. HIV/ AIDS and other sexual diseases.

Cracking Down on elements who force women and minor into trade

Anonymous,  February 6, 2009 at 3:56 PM  

Good job Avinash, you have given such a heaty topic for discussion.

Good going you guys keep it up!!

Keep the heat on !!!!!

Anonymous,  February 6, 2009 at 4:40 PM  

Legalisation of prostitution can create no problem.Even if you see in the history,so called 'ganika' were given some status.Let people decide about them.But let them give fair opportunity to live in social culture.I t may help to prevent rape cases as well as abuse of girls.

Anonymous,  February 6, 2009 at 4:40 PM  

after reading the posts, certain things came in to my mind viz.
1. the distinction between voluntry and forced prostitution is very ambiguous. In fact it is prone to be used as a loophole in case of forced prostitution. In country like India where women generally dont have any right even in their marriage, it is difficult to accept that prostitution can be voluntry. Even if some women are working as a prostitute voluntarily, i feel they would be doing it out of their dire necessities.

2. the other thing is that by legalising the prostitution, govt. can deal better with two major problems:-
i. the issue of AIDS can be dealt with more firmly as it can be hit at the roots itself. The condoms, contraceptive pills, medical fecilities, other support can be given in more organised way,
ii. the problem of children of prostitute can be handled better as they can be given all requisite help as all other children of society. THe chances of their being indulged into criminal activities can be reduced upto a large extent.

I support the 'arthashashtra' mode of tackling with the prostitution and agree with the legalisation of Prostitution in India.

Anonymous,  February 6, 2009 at 4:50 PM  

i agree wid MR. Avinash dat it sud be legalised, the entire article was written very nicely hats off to u

In 1982, 13 year old Tulasa was abducted from a village near Kathmandu in Nepal and sold to a brothel in Bombay. She was dressed in European-style clothes and taken to luxury hotels to serve mostly Arab clients until a hotel manager called the police. Hospitalized, Tulasa was found to be suffering from three types of venereal disease and tuberculosis. (Robert I. Freidman, "India’s Shame: Sexual Slavery and Political Corruption Are Leading to An AIDS Catastrophe," The Nation, 8 April 1996)

There are approximately 10 million prostitutes in India. (Human Rights Watch, Robert I. Freidman, "India’s Shame: Sexual Slavery and Political Corruption Are Leading to An AIDS Catastrophe," The Nation, 8 April 199

Puja February 6, 2009 at 5:13 PM  

some good arguement n counter arguements
dats wat avinash can do, he raises topic wg=hich is debatable n has enuf to write on it...lots of info n knowledge acoompanied by excellent writting skills

Shilpi Verma February 6, 2009 at 6:26 PM  

Prostitution is the supreme triumph of capitalism. Worst of all, prostitution reinforces all the old dumb clich鳠about women s sexuality; that they are not built to enjoy sex and are little more than walking masturbation aids, things to be DONE TO, things so sensually null and void that they have to be paid to indulge in fornication, that women can be had, bought, as often as not sold from one man to another. When the sex war is won prostitutes should be shot as collaborators for their terrible betrayal of all women, for the moral tarring and feathering they give indigenous women who have had the bad luck to live in what they make their humping ground.

Anonymous,  February 6, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

The women who take husbands not out of love but out of greed, to get their bills paid, to get a fine house and clothes and jewels; the women who marry to get out of a tiresome job, or to get away from disagreeable relatives, or to avoid being called an old maid -- these are whores in everything but name. The only difference between them and my girls is that my girls gave a man his money s worth.

Anonymous,  February 6, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

What it comes down to is this: the grocer, the butcher, the baker, the merchant, the landlord, the druggist, the liquor dealer, the policeman, the doctor, the city father and the politician -- these are the people who make money out of prostitution, these are the real reapers of the wages of sin

Shilpi Verma February 6, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

The profession of a prostitute is the only career in which the maximum income is paid to the newest apprentice. It is the one calling in which at the beginning the only exertion is that of self-indulgence; all the prizes are at the commencement. It is the ever-new embodiment of the old fable of the sale of the soul to the Devil. The tempter offers wealth, comfort, excitement, but in return the victim must sell her soul, nor does the other party forget to exact his due to the uttermost farthing.

Anonymous,  February 6, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

The whore is despised by the hypocritical world because she has made a realistic assessment of her assets and does not have to rely on fraud to make a living. In an area of human relations where fraud is regular practice between the sexes, her honesty is regarded with a mocking wonder

Shilpi Verma February 6, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

Prostitution is not just a service industry, mopping up the overflow of male demand, which always exceeds female supply. Prostitution testifies to the amoral power struggle of sex, which religion has never been able to stop. Prostitutes, pornographers, and their patrons are marauders in the forest of archaic night.

Prachi Pandey February 6, 2009 at 6:48 PM  

jyada debate karwa diya tune avinash

Ritika Pandey February 6, 2009 at 10:46 PM  

dat was well written and backed up by in-depth knowledge and good articulation of thot process

Dr. Neha Srivastav February 7, 2009 at 3:40 AM  

so wats ur next topic 2 write on?

Preeti February 7, 2009 at 5:54 PM  

intresting debate
Well written sir, very throughly analysed

Tracy February 7, 2009 at 8:03 PM  

legalising will promote human traficking

Dr.Rita Raman February 7, 2009 at 9:45 PM  

Legalising prostitution will see these women, who live life on the edge everywhere, gaining access to medical facilities which can control the spread of AIDS, not only among sex-workers themselves but, at a more macro level, the customer, his wife and potential progeny.

Numerous nations across the globe which have legalised prostitution see strength in this argument. By failing to pay heed to the world order, India has only made prostitution a criminalised whirlpool involving various mafiosi — both governmental and otherwise — and a health hazard for women who are the victims rather than the vectors of AIDS.

अनु मिश्रा February 8, 2009 at 9:54 AM  

an imortant isse raised and good debate...

Dr. Gunjan Gehlot February 9, 2009 at 5:45 AM  

If you think legalizing prostitution will create chaos in the society, well then think again because according to psychologists you are saying that because you are unable to envision such a scenario.
Girls will be immoral, guys will become corrupt - I don’t know where you come from, but prostitution is pretty wide spread in contemporary society, its just that girls won’t admit it to anyone because of its in-acceptance in the society, and guys won’t admit it because its emasculating to admit.

Dr.Ruchika Rastogi February 10, 2009 at 2:03 PM  

Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour and makes it punishable under Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Woman and Girls Act 1956 (which was renamed in 1986 as The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. The name of the Act was changed to “Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act” in view of widening the scope of the Act to cover all persons, whether male or female, who are exploited sexually for commercial purposes). Article 39 provides that the state should direct its policy towards securing, among other things, a right to adequate means of livelihood for men and women equally and equal pay for equal work for their age or strength.

Trisha Pandey February 12, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

the whole thing was an eye opener. I am from india too. and i guess there is truth behind the changes that would happen if prostitution was legalised. personally, i am not against them but the stigma is hard to remove from the society, and i dont understand why ppl blame only the prostitutes, it takes two to a tango after all!

Anonymous,  February 20, 2009 at 10:43 PM  

Bal

I am Indian and live in UK. I believe in ‘live and let live’ and we Indian are biggest hypocrites in the world. Ladies cannot walk in any streets in India without men sneering at them. Indian media looks down on the female gender and the biggest problem is the corrupt officials in every corner of India. We Indian men need to respect our women more and not lust after power and money.

Anonymous,  April 27, 2009 at 5:31 PM  

it require lots of guts to became a sex worker and in INDIA i dont think that individual chose this profession for their desire its situation force them to do so.According to me sex workers are the social workers they just providing the services to the society but the situation became worst for them when the police,brokers ,gundas take a huge pert of their money which they earn by this so i think its necessary to legalise this but in a proper manner , goverment should make certain rules for them for their rights,i dont know when this thing going to happen but uptill that the thing which we can do is to give proper respect to them ,they are not the dirty part of the society but they are more pure than us......................

  © Free Blogger Templates Blogger Theme by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP