Tuesday, 7 July 2015


While different NGO's keep fighting about the welfare of different suppressed and unprivileged sections of the society, one section is always skipped. Very rarely do people talk about the sufferings and security of sex workers in the country and the offspring they give birth to.
The personal accounts of prostitutes reveal how often sex-workers are trafficked, raped and brutally beaten by pimps and their customers. Reportedly 30% of the acts of violence are committed at the hands of the police. The working conditions add to their plight. Moreover, their children are unable to seek dignity for themselves in the eyes of people around them.

Legalisation of prostitution could be a solution here. This act would allow prostitutes to come up to police if they face any violence. They will be able to exercise all other fundamental rights that are granted to an Indian citizen. Besides the rights of sex workers, many other points favour the decriminalisation of sex work.
Many would not dare to even breach the issue, yet there are those who advocate the need for sexual gratification as a similar  basic need like food and fresh air. The taboo over sex in India does not help, but harms: causes sexual frustration, and pushes serious sexual crimes out of purview. Of what use is a justice that is blind to reality?

The next argument is of sexual health. In the legalised system, everything can be run transparently. Use of condoms and regular check-ups for STDs for sex workers can be made mandatory which will only ensure better sexual health in the country.
Quite a few think that this will encourage sex based human trafficking, but a deeper examination makes me believe otherwise . Taking the trafficked people to countries where sex work is a crime leads to a much higher expense and hence, the traffickers receive a handsome amount of money from buyers, making profits and gaining incentive, as opposed where prostitutes are willingly in the profession.
These points may seem contradictory but studying the case of countries where sex work is legalised and regulated will prove the above points.

In Germany and New Zealand, post-legalisation of the act , we witnessed a  reduction  the case of violence reported by sex workers. Germany saw no net increase in STD infection rates in the following years. Sex-based human trafficking shrank by 10% in the country. In Nevada’s brothels, regular check-ups are conducted to ensure sexual health of prostitutes and the customers. The most interesting case is of Rhode Island, where in 1980, law makers accidentally decriminalised sex work in an attempt to revise a few related laws. It was later discovered in 2003 by a district court judge that over the next six years, cases of gonorrhoea in women reduced by 31% and rapes declined by 39% in the country.

All the data shows that sex work can be legalised and regulated in India as well. It will ensure rights, security and legal recognition to sex workers and their children. It may lead to crimes like rape diminishing. Furthermore the business will generate profits for the country. Better sexual health and a decline in human trafficking are amongst other positive outcomes. It remains to be seen for the the people of India, whether these benefits will out-weigh the conflicting notion of morality and fears of how legalisation can affect the society.

Vipul Toetia

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