LEGALISING PROSTITUTION IN INDIA
What is normal? Is it anything that is default in the world? The normal way to dress up, the normal profession, the normal relationship, etc. may differ from person to person. Every individual is unique. Their ups, downs, merits, demerits, circumstances, etc. are not one hundred percent similar to any other individual. Every individual has their own story. So defining normal is subjective. If we talk about profession, some are deemed to be inappropriate by the society or by law or by both. One such profession is sex work or prostitution. Despite society claiming that it is non-discriminatory and accepting to every individual, the reality is far from this. There is no doubt that our society is progressing and becoming more welcoming day by day but this change is not absolute.
Prostitution is the hard truth. One cannot deem it non existing. The practice of prostitution might have changed but it is still present in our society. Prostitution is not a new profession. It is one of the oldest professions. The word “prostitution” is derived from a Latin word called “prostituere” which literally translates into “expose publically”. The occupation of engaging oneself on sexual activity with another for payment is known as prostitution. It is true that many a times prostitution leads to exploitation of people mainly women and children whether for the purpose of slavery, bondage, sex or labor. This is why the government takes stringent actions to keep this in check. But what can be practically done to protect these individuals from gross violation of their basic human rights? There is a need to look at this issue from a different perspective.
Now often, exploitation of an individual takes places because they don’t know their rights in the first place. People engaged in practice of this profession need to be made aware of their rights. They should be educated about their health risks and the freedom to either choose or deny to their regular body checkups. They should also know about financial aids available to them or compensation if in case they suffer any injury. Often offences inflicted on prostitutes are not even taken under consideration let alone is there any hope for justice. They should be given a platform so that they can be given justice in case there is any violation of their rights. Just because there profession is related to sex business does not mean it is an open invitation to anyone to do anything to them without their explicit consent. This does not give the offenders a free pass.
WHY SHOULD PROSTITUTION BE LEGALIZED?
No one can assume things about any individual. What a person goes through is not known to anyone but them only. There are various instances which show that many people choose this profession because there was no other option to earn a living. Maybe they needed money for an emergency or maybe it is just their choice. Nonetheless, what an individual does to his/her body is no one’s concern but themselves. People don’t get any license to judge someone based on their choice of profession. There are many reasons why legalizing prostitution is a safer option. First of all legalizing prostitution will protect minors. It is one hard truth child prostitution is very real and present in our society. Child prostitution is present in every country around the world no matter how developed that country is. No child deserves a life in prostitution. Children are the future of any country and they must be protected. If prostitution is legalized, the government and society can collectively take strict measures to stop child prostitution. By regulating it, we can make sure that involvement of children from this profession can be effectively removed, thus ensuring their safety and protecting their rights. Secondly, there will be reduced Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Regulation of prostitution means it will also include regular health checkups of the prostitutes or sex workers. This also means that there will be awareness and availability of birth control tools. This in return will reduce the cases of STDs as it will ensure less risks of transmission of these deadly diseases. There will be cleaner working conditions thereby making the profession a healthy one. There will be a safer way to practice the profession. For example, there can be a card which shows their health status and if any worker is found positive for any deadly or infectious disease then he/she will be required to immediately stop any services.
Thirdly, legalizing prostitution will decrease the chances of rapes and other sexual assaults. If there is a legal and smooth alternative available in the society to satisfy individuals of their sexual desires then people will prefer prostitution instead of committing any grave and heinous offence like rape. Fourthly, with there being a legal profession there will be a more systemized and organized industry where the service of pimps and middlemen will not be required. This is return would boost the wages of the sex workers. Fifthly, there will be no such thing as forced prostitution. With the industry being legalized, there will be a control over its working and if there is any sign of forced prostitution or exploitation of any individual then it can be stopped easily. Sixthly, it is nothing new that prostitution is practiced by many individuals. So if it is a legal profession then it can be taxed like any other profession and the money obtained by it can be further invested for their regular checkups. Finally, with this profession being legalized, the prostitutes or sex workers can seek justice if their rights get violated.
It should not be a surprise that only an individual has its right to do anything with their body (unless it hurts anyone else) and no one else. If someone thinks that prostitution is wrong, it is their opinion and it should be respected. In the same way, if an individual chooses this profession then it is their choice and no one else’s. Different people can have different moral systems and it is totally fine. Yes, prostitution at times leads to exploitation but this is a result of practice of certain number of people and calling prostitution oppressive in its entirety is wrong. Prostitution does not possess serious health threats to an individual like alcohol or drugs. If regulated properly, this profession possesses no downsides.
Author: Saumya Shreya,
National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam (First Year)