Not All Work In The Market Is Legal- On Legalization Of Prostitution

Prostitution or Sex Work is an occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment. It is one of the oldest professions to exist. But today this profession stays tainted with the stains of horrendous crimes. In India Prostitution isn’t declared illegal. There are laws that only try to control crimes in prostitution.  But, those laws ignore the workers of this industry, rather look at them as criminals. The idea of legalization of prostitution completely can open gateways to many conversations. Let’s deep dive into it more.

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What are the Problems of Prostitution and Indian Laws on Sex work?

India, among countries like Canada and France, sex work is still in the grey area. There are laws and acts that exist that legalize it. Without talking about the existing laws, we won’t be able to understand the need for this. 

One such law on prostitution is the Section 2(f) of The Immoral Trafficking Act (1956) which tries to prevent sexual exploitation and child Prostitution. It says that any person who keeps or manages a Brothel will be for at least of one year. This could reduce Child and minor Prostitution, but puts the workers in a bad spotlight. There are laws like this one that exempt this profession. 

Shafi, a student who is interested in understanding the mechanisms of sex and the stigma around it says ” Prostitution in India is a very grey area. There are laws that exempt it and allow it as well. It’s very arbitrary in India “.  It is good that there are laws that regulate  crimes like child prostitution,. But there are no laws that protect the workers of the industry.

Laws like SITA that try to regulate the industry does not check the boxes with other important issues that exist in Prostitution. The sad part is there are no other laws that tackle them. There are thousands of sex workers who are forced into sex work. They are also subjected to very dangerous scenarios which cost them their lives. To make matters worse, they are also prone to diseases like HIV and AIDS. When asked about the issues of prostitution Shafi said “There is no regulation which means that there are no benefits like there are in other businesses. Neither do they have health policies to support them nor have the support to report the crimes.”. Now let’s look at the argument about completely legalizing it.



Should Prostitution be legal ?

The debate of legalizing Prostitution is an ongoing one. Some  argue that it can reduce the rate of human trafficking. Whereas some do not approve of this to be a profession in the first place even though it is a fact. Let’s look at it in a scenario where it is legal and 

With Prostitution being legal, there are a lot of things that can change. First one being that there will be more legal support for the sex workers health and protection. Nandini, a student who is also interested in understanding the stigma around sex said ” Yes, it should be legal. This gives the sex workers more legal and lawful safeguards. It becomes easy for them to get help.”

Another important aspect being decrease in human rights violation and human trafficking. Shafi adds on to this by saying “Once it is legalized it can be regulated. Once it is regulated, we can see how this business can be handled ethically which results in less Human rights violation.” 

Legalizing Prostitution makes sex workers feel less ashamed of their job. Many join this industry because of poverty and to support their families. This will also reduce the involvement of minors into the industry. One of the main crimes that surround sex work is Child prostitution. With strict regulation this issue could be tackled  in an effective way. By legalizing sex work half of the crimes that it is associated with this industry is reduced.

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One of the possibilities for the poor conditions of sex work could be the stigma around it. Many of us do not know about the laws and conditions of these people. This is because of the belief that it is ” Bad” and “Shameful”. Let’s remember that not everyone in this industry is trafficked into it. Not everyone chooses to get into this business either. By changing that notion, we can look at the bigger picture. Which makes legalization of prostitution very logical. Sex work like any other work is a real job. Nandini says ” Sex work is real work” and we could not agree more. Like any other job in the market it requires safety and humanity. Legalizing it would fit that missing piece. 

Cover illustration : Mangal Media


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