HomePolitics & LawShould prostitution be legalized in India?

Should prostitution be legalized in India?

Whenever anyone use the word “prostitution”, “ call girl” ,“hooker” or anything related with it in public then their facial expression or behavior determines that even talking about them also lowers their standard  but same thing if anyone use it in privately then it seems no one  care about the dignity of their so called high standard.  This topic is one of the burning issues in India and always remains in controversy because it’s kind of something which is against the culture, dignity and prestige of India. Should prostitution be legalized in India? Before discussing about this topic I just want to go through the historical meaning of prostitution that what exactly prostitution was in past and what it is up to now.

In ancient India, there was a practice of the rich asking Nagarvadhu to sing and dance, noted in history as “brides of the town”. Famous examples include Amrapali, state courtesan and Buddhist disciple, described in “Vaishali Ki Nagarvadhu”. The definition of prostitute was not just exchange of money for sex. Earlier prostitute were used to be known as a talent, who knows how to entertain rich people in all aspects. A Nagarvadhu was respected like a queen or Goddess, but she was a courtesan or prostitute; people could see her dance and sing.  A Nagarvadhu’s price for a single night’s dance was very high, and she was only within the reach of the very rich – the king, the princes, and the lords. But today it becomes one of the criminal activities in India. They are not only treated as an excluded part of the society but also involve inhuman treatment. By treating in such a way we sometimes forget that they are also a human being and this may be a kind of profession for them which may or may not be liked by them too.  May be they are also forced to do this.

Prostitution is that profession no doubt it will never get any dignity but who cares no one is struggling for dignity of profession, what prostitutes are struggling for a little human like treatment with no cruel behavior with them in the society. Prostitution exists today because women are more objectified sexually, and because it is considered more permissible for men than for women to have purely sexual experiences. When a guy goes to a hooker he is not paying her for sex, he is paying her to leave.

There are many pros and cons of legalizing prostitution. Whether legalizing prostitution will solve all the problems of rape, human trafficking or any other crimes related with women? In Indiaprostitution is legal but the definition is limited to the exchange of money for sex, and does not include pimping, brothel-keeping and soliciting sex in any other way. It is said that by legalizing prostitution, it will solve the problem of rape; human trafficking and innocent girls and women will not suffer any problem but how far it’s relevant. Prostitution is still active in India but does it solve the above said problems?

There is no exact answer for this that why it should be legalized or why it shouldn’t not. Different people will have their different views. This is something which we neither say totally against of it nor in favor.  Yes, to some extent it is necessary to give legal dignity so that at least prostitutes are not be treated as an alien and people would give little respect to their profession and it would at least helps in decreasing inhuman treatment which they are suffering and government can assure that the girls are not forced into the business via human trafficking and take up prostitution only by choice. It would also help assure that minors are not pushed into the business. It should be made legal to keep a check on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV by providing safe sex counseling and providing safety guidelines etc. After all it is no secret that prostitutes are one of the greatest sufferers and sources of STDs.

We cannot say that by legalizing prostitution it will lessen the women related crime such as rape, sexual harassment etc. Even it can increase the chances of sex trafficking. Clients may demand young and virgin girls due to which it may increase the chances to force innocents into this business.  Therefore it is necessary for the government to ensure that innocents are not getting forced into this business but practically it’s not possible to keep an eye on this business each time. Crimes like rape and any women related harassment cannot be just solved by legalizing prostitution. It can only be done once the mindset of people change. But yes for the protection of sex workers it is required to be legal with certain securities i.e. keeping innocents under protection by law.

Priyanka Sinha
Contract Administrator II & Sustainability Council member of Caterpillar Finance
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