LEGALIZATION OF PROSTITUTION IN INDIA
– Sachin Verma1
We know that some professions are very ancient allover the world e.g. teaching, agriculture etc. Prostitution is also known as one of the oldest profession in the world. The prostitution is legalin some countries and illegalin some countries. It is almost illegal in all the Muslim countries. This is an unfortunate but real phenomenon of our communities. The rights of Prostitutes have always been a contentious debate allover the world. There is no specific law to regulate the prostitution or ban it altogether.As it was treated as world oldest profession, making legal willallow theact to be managed instead ofignored. Pimps and organized crime figures which regularly treat Prostitutes on sub-human levels. Prostitutes who operates independently and in secret, many times they get abused by theirown customers.Legalizing prostitution would prevent underground prostitution thatoccurs today’s time. Particularly, speaking for Indiathere isonly and onelawrelatingto prostitution which is Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956. But in-spite of this act, the condition of prostitutes is not so good and their condition is same as it was before the passing of this act. So there must be legalizing of prostitution for effective controlon prostitution.
‘To prostitute’ is derived from a composition of two Latin words: (preposition) pro and (verb)stature. Aliteral translation therefore would be: ‘to expose’, ‘to place up front’.
The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being perfectly legal and considered a profession to being punishable by death. Somejurisdictions outlawthe actof prostitution (the exchange ofsexualservices for money);other countries do notprohibit prostitution itself, but ban the activities typically associated with it (soliciting in a public place, operating a brothel, pimping etc), making it difficult to engage in prostitution withoutbreaking any law; whilein afew countries prostitution is legaland regulated.
Prostitution is the act or practice of engaging in sex acts for hire. In most cultures, prostitution is viewed as a deviant profession, either discouraged or illegal; however motivations vary from the implications of those potentially exposed to that activity to whether it constitutes or not an exploitative practice. The word “prostitution” can also be used metaphorically to mean debasementthe legalstatus ofprostitution varies from country to country, from being perfectly legal and considered a profession to being punishable by death.
In India, prostitution itself(exchanging sex for money)is not illegal, but the surrounding activities (operating brothels, pimping, soliciting sex etc) are illegal.
Prostitution is currently acontentious issuein India.In 2007,the Ministry of Women and Child Development reported presence of 2.8 million sex workers in India, with 35.47 percent of them entering the trade before the age of 18 years. The number of prostitutes has also doubled in the recent decade.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, Indian anti-trafficking laws are designed to combat commercialized vice; prostitution, as such, is not illegal. A sex worker can be punished for soliciting or seducing in public while clients can be punished for sexualactivity close to a public place, and the organization puts thefigure of sex workers in India to be
around 15 million, with Mumbai alone being home to one hundred thousand sex workers, the largest sex industry centre in Asia . Over the years, India has seen a growing mandate to legalize prostitution, to avoid exploitation of sex workers and their children by middlemen and also in the wake of growing HIV/AIDS menace. Sonagachiin Kolkata, Kamathipura in Mumbai, G. B. Road in New Delhi, Reshampura in Gwalior and Budhwar Peth in Pune host thousands of sex workers. They are famous red lightcentres in India. Earlier other centers like Dal Mandi in Varanasi, Naqqasa Bazaar in Saharanpur, MaliSahi in Bhubaneshwar, ChaturbhujSthan in Muzaffarpur, Peddapuram and Gudivadain Andhra Pradesh.
LEGAL STATUS IN INDIA
The current laws of India allow prostitution to thrive, but attempt 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) Act (SITA).Accordingto this law, prostitutes can practice their trade privately but cannot legally solicit customers in public. Organized prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings,pimping etc)is illegal. 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. 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, sex workers are not protected under normal labour laws, but they possess the right to rescue and rehabilitation if they desire and possess all the rights of other citizens.
In practice SITA is not commonly used. The Indian PenalCode (IPC) which predates the SITA is often used to charge sex workers with vague crimes such as “public indecency” or being a “public nuisance” without explicitly defining what these consist of. Recently the old law has been amended as The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act or PITA. Attempts to amend this to criminalize clients have been opposed by the Health Ministry,and haveencountered considerableopposition. In an interesting and positive development in the improvementof the lives of female sex workers in Calcutta, state owned insurance company has provided life insurance to 250 individuals.2
IMMORAL TRAFFIC(PREVENTION) ACT
The ImmoralTraffic (Prevention)Act or PITA is a 1986 amendment of legislation passed in 1956 as a result of the signing by India of the United Nations’ declaration in 1950 in NewYork on the suppression of trafficking. The act was then called the All India Suppression of Immoral TrafficAct (SITA), was amended to the current law. The laws wereintended as a means of limitingand eventually abolishingprostitution in India by gradually criminalizing various aspects of sex work.
PROSTITUTION LEGALAND REGULATED
In a small minority of countries prostitution is legal and regulated. In these countries prostitutes must register, they can be hired by a brothel, they organize trade unions, they are covered by workers protection laws, their proceeds are taxable,they mustundergo regular health checks etc, prostitution is treated like a profession. The degree of regulation varies very much by country, forexample notallcountries with regulated prostitution require mandatory health checks (because such checks are seen as too intrusive, a violation of human rights and a discriminatory policy, since the clients don’t have to be subjected to them).3
In some of these places the regulations are very tight (e.g. Nevada), while in other places (such as New Zealand), the brothels are very loosely regulated (they are rather decriminalized than regulated).
Prostitution is legaland regulated inAustria, Bolivia,Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lebanon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Senegal, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela as wellas some Australian states, Mexico (only in some cities in “toleration zones”) and some rural counties in the US state of Nevada.
The Dutch legalization of prostitution has similar objectives, as well as improving health and working conditions forthe women and weakening the link between prostitution and criminality.
Daily Planet is a brothelin Melbourne, Australia whose shares were listed on theAustralian StockExchange in 2003, beforelisting difficulties- investors were asked to undergo police checks before buying shares- forced the listed company to divest the brothel back into private ownership (thecompany remained listed and continues its other business interests). There are various regulatory regimes governing prostitution in Australia and a levelof increasing professionalism is being seen in the industry with the establishment of business associations like the Queensland Adult Business Association that ascribe to a strict ethical code which entrenches the independence of service providers.
4Our legal system penalizes prostitutes and their customers for what they do as consenting adults. Money is stillspent on law enforcement efforts to catch prostitutes and their customers. Once caught, justice departments have to process these people through very expensive systems.
What are the end results? Police personnel and courtrooms are overburdened with these cases, having little orno impact on prostitution. The prostitutes and their customers pay their fines and are back to the streets in no time in a revolving door process. Catch and release may work for recreational fishingbut ithas no deterring affecton prostitution. Making prostitution legal willallow the act to be managed instead of ignored.
When men want to pay for sex, they find prostitutes. These people work in massage parlors, escort services, strip bars and modeling agencies or still work corners as traditional streetwalkers. There are legitimateparlors, dating services, bars and agencies but of the hundreds that exist within newspaper classified advertisements and telephone directories, there are a large number that provide sexual services.
The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country .There are many benefits to legalized prostitution. The benefits include (1) allowing lawenforcement agencies to respond to moreimportant crimes,
(2) freeing justice systems from nuisance cases, (3) helping women who are trapped by prostitution, and (4) preventing teens from being ensnared into prostitution.
When data from countries that ban prostitution is compared with data from countries that do not, many startling discoveries can be observed. Countries without anti-prostitution laws have less murder, less rapes, and prosecute/imprison less people. HIV/AIDS is less of a problem; suicide rates are lower as are divorce rates, too.
According to the data collected in questionnaire regarding the improvement of the position of women in the society if prostitution is legalized itis found that maximum people agreeand fewpeople disagree and negligible people not reacted on the issue. Thus, it can be said that legalization of prostitution would definitely improve the position of women in the society.
As per the views of people regarding the exploitation of prostitutes, maximum people agreed that the prostitutes arebeing exploited by the police personals when they are arrested. Few people disagreed on the issue and negligible people were not aware regarding exploitation.
Now a day’s everybody is aware about sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, herpes & HIV/AIDS. When the data was collected regarding reduction of sexually transmitted diseases if theprostitution is legalized, maximum people agreeon this issue, few people denied and negligible could not say anything from the issue.
Indian Culture is well known allover the world and Western people have great respect for the Culture values of India. As we know that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and it was very much familiar in India also. When an issue was put to the public whether our Cultural values are adversely affected by the prostitution, maximum people denied that the prostitution does not adversely affectour culture. Some were in favour and agreed that our culture is adversely affected by the prostitution.
When people were asked regarding the prevailing Law i.e. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, maximum people were not aware of the said Law. The Advocates and Judges were only aware of the prevailing Law but when it was asked whether the Law is effectively implemented or notmaximum peoplewere in favour thatthe Lawis not effectively implemented. FewAdvocates and Police man only agreed that it is effectively implemented.
Prostitution is not a social evil in the society as it is oldest profession and prevails all over the country and itshould not be removed from the society. It should be legalized as it would help reducing sexually transmitted diseases and it would increase government revenues.
Legalized, regulated prostitution has many benefits. Encounters can happen within controlled environments that bring about safety for both the customers and the prostitutes.Prostitutes would no longer be strong- armed by pimps ororganized crimerings. Underage prostitution would be curtailed. There would also be health-safety improvements.
1. Joseph Anthony Gathia, Child prostitution in India.
2. Rohini Sahn, V. Kalyan Shankar, Hemant Apte, Prostitution and Beyond: An Analysis of Sex Workers in India.
3. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P rostitution in_ India
5. www.ncpcr.gov.in/Acts/Immoral_ Traffic_ Prevention_ Act