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Prostitution in India- Legal and Social Ramifications by Shashank Shekhar

Prostitution in India- Legal and Social Ramifications by Shashank Shekhar

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Published by: Dr. P.K. Pandey on Aug 21, 2011
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01/10/2013

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The Legal Analyst  ISSN: 2231-5594Volume 1, 2011, pp.100- 105
PROSTITUTION IN INDIA- LEGAL AND SOCIAL RAMIFICATIONS
Shashank Shekhar
*
 
Abstract:
When prostitution is the world's oldest profession and we are not able to curb it by law(s), why don't welegalize it? Under apprehension and fear of police and enforcement authorities, those in this trade are compelled tolive a life of harassment, exploitation, humiliation, cruel and degrading treatment. If we legalize it, we can thenmonitor the trade, rehabilitate and provide medical aid to those involved. Legalizing sex trade would be a better option to avoid trafficking of women and pointed out that nowhere in the world was prostitution curbed by punitivemeasures. Most of us say that our society is not ready for such a radical change but how many of us honestlybelieve that an inter-caste marriage, which is a legal right of a couple, is not frowned upon by the society? Have we forgotten the relentless and merciless honor killings that take place every other day? That untouchabilty, which isbanned by the Grundnorm that is, the Constitution of India, is not practiced in India? Perhaps none of us!So we need to legalize prostitution, social acceptance would come eventually. But if we wait for our society to beready for it then they would be deprived of their right to live life with dignity.
Key Words:
Trafficking, Women, Law.
 
Introduction:
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment.People who execute such activities are called prostitutes. Prostitution is one of the branches of the sexindustry.
1
The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being a punishable crime toa regulated profession.
2
 Prostitution was a part of daily life in ancient Greece. In the ancient city of Heliopolis in Syria, there wasa law that stated that every maiden should prostitute herself to strangers at the temple of Astarte.
3
 In India, the practice of prostitution has been prevalent since time immemorial. Originally,
devdasis
werecelibate dancing girls used in temple ceremonies and they entertained members of the ruling class. Butsometime around the 6th Century, the practice of "dedicating" girls to Hindu gods became prevalent in apractice that developed into ritualized prostitution.
 Devdasis
literally means God's
(Dev)
female servant
(Dasi),
where according to the ancient Indian practice, young pre-
 pubertal girls are 'married off, „given
away' in matrimony to God or Local religious deity of the temple.
4
The marriage usually occurs before thegirl reaches puberty and requires the girl to become a prostitute for upper-caste community members.Such girls are known as
 jogini
'. They are forbidden to enter into a real marriage. The system of 
devdasis
started only after the fall of Buddhism and records about them start appearing around 1000 A.D.[Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosh, IV, 448]. It is viewed that the
devodosis
are the Buddhist nuns who weredegraded to the level of prostitutes after their temples were taken over by Brahmins during the times of their resurgence after the fall of Buddhism. According to the 1934 Devadasi Security Act, this practice isbanned in India.
5
 India is home today to Asia's largest red-light district--Mumbai's Kamathipura, which originated as amassive brothel for British occupiers and shifted to a local clientele following Indian independence. TheMughal Empire (1526 -
1857) also witnessed prostitution the word „
tawaif’ and 'mujra
' became commonduring this era. King Jahangir's harem had 6,000 mistresses which denoted authority, wealth and power.Even during the British era prostitution flourished the famous Kamathipura, a red light area in Bombay,was built during this era for the refreshment of British troops and which was later taken over by Indiansex workers.
*Assistant Professor, RML National Law University Lucknow, INDIA.
1
www.turbowars.com/people/.../should-prostitution-be-legal-in-indi
2
www.hrmun.org/committees/un-human-rights-council
3
 
68articles.com/the-problem-of-prostitution-an-indian-perspective-2ffe6ce0.html
 
4
indianredlight.wordpress.com
5
iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring02/Chattaraj/genesis.htm
 
2011]
PROSTITUTION IN INDIA
 
101
 
 ______________________________________________________________________________
 
The practice of dedicating devdasis was declared illegal by the Government of Karnataka in 1982 and theGovernment of Andhra Pradesh in 1988. However the practice is still prevalent in around 10 districts of north Karnataka and 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh.
6
The districts bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka.known as the
"devadasi
belt," have trafficking structures operating at various levels. Many are devadasidedicated into prostitution for the goddess
Yellummu.
Prostitution-
 An objective perspective:
When one gifts a girl precious gifts and she returns it back withsexual favours (which could be making out with one, or even full intercourse), that is prostitution inobjective terms according to the definition of prostitution. Would one really be in a relationship with agirl (or marry one) if it's made clear that one is NOT going to get any sexual favours from her'? Or if oneis a girl, then would one be in a relationship with a man (or marry one) if if s made clear that he is nevergoing to give one any gift or material benefits, both have to pay your rent separately, one will have to buyone's own clothes, jewellery etc, and just keep on giving sexual favours to him? This is prostitution froma pure Objective viewpoint.An experiment was conducted in Yale University with Monkeys.' A bunch of scientists tried to trainmonkeys into using money. The monkeys exchanged stuff with each other using those coins; they evenshowed their preference by offering different amount of money for say Jel-O v. Bananas.
7
The best partwas that female monkeys were having sex with male monkeys in exchange for money. This isprostitution. It exists among monkeys too. Now it didn't happen because of some inherent characteristicfault of money, after all just because monkeys traded with money doesn't mean that it was some inherentcharacteristics of money which made them to those things, rather it means monkey brains are wired toofor understanding and performing indirect exchanges.
8
Similarly it simply means that female monkeysperceive prostitution no different than any other exchange. Secondly, it's always males who have to givesomething to the female in order to have sex with her. When training a bunch of monkeys for usingmoney, it comes up explicitly as prostitution. Since if money wasn't used in this concept and monkeyswere only observed in their natural environment, people would have concluded that the monkey isseducing that female monkey by giving her that shiny stone.
The first imprudent reaction
we get when we discuss about legalizing the practice of prostitution, is,
"Won't evil people force women to work as prostitutes
?"
Rationalization
9
:
Forcing women to work as prostitutes in such a society would still be a crime,irrespective of whether you make prostitution legal or illegal. Just like forcing someone to work in yourfields is a crime, forcing someone to do computer programming for one on a gun point is a crime, forcingsomeone to work as a prostitute will be a crime. Like forcing someone to work in your house as a maid isslavery, forcing some girl to work as a prostitute will be slavery too.So, there is no change in status for that act which is certainly a crime. Now if prostitution is made legal,then only the women who wish to work as a prostitute will be in the profession. If there will be enoughnumber of women in such a profession, there will be no incentive for those criminals who force women tobecome prostitutes do continue doing it. The prostitutes will be well paid, kept much more healthy, andbe less exploited.The second imprudent reaction we get from people is
"Oh so would you like to see your sister ormother work as a prostitute?"Rationalization
10
: Now, there is a big difference between supporting the decriminalization of a voluntaryact, and wishing to see one's own family members do the same act without consent. Despite of the factthat prostitution is not legal, there are prostitutes all over the world: one's own sister might be working asone without one's knowledge. Is that idea disgusting? Why not? That's because one might think you havegiven one's sister some values? Well then why would they be becoming prostitutes just because it'slegalized now?
6
www.legalserviceindia.com/.../l269-Prostitution-in-India.html
7
www.reasonforliberty.com/.../legal-or-illegal-prostitution.htm
8
www.reasonforliberty.com/.../legal-or-illegal-prostitution.html
9
www.reasonforliberty.com/.../legal-or-illegal-prostitution.html
10
delhiwithavinash.blogspot.com/.../city-secrets-life-of-prostitutes-in.html
 
102
THE LEGAL ANALYST 
[Vol. I
 ______________________________________________________________________________
 
A
million-dollar question
arises,
"If having sex with a partner of your choice is legal, how come exchanging money for sex is not?
What changes when money is exchanged between two people for sex?”
It's definitely not exchange of money because there is nothing wrong in exchange of money between two people. It's not sex eitherbecause two consenting adults are allowed to have sex."
Legal temperament towards prostitution:
Legal themes tend to address four types of issues: victimhood (including potential victimhood), ethics andmorality, freedom of choice, and general benefit or harm to society (including harm arising indirectlyfrom matters connected to prostitution).
11
 There are various ways in which prostitution is dealt with in different countries. Some of them are asfollows:
Prohibitionism
12
 
Both prostitutes and clients are criminalized and are seen as immoral, they areconsidered criminals;
Abolitionism
13
Prostitution itself is not prohibited, but most associated activities are illegal.;
Neo-abolitionism
14
 
Prostitutes are not prosecuted, but their clients and pimps are;
Regulation
15
: prostitution may be considered a legitimate business; prostitution and the employment of prostitutes are legal, but regulated;
Decriminalization
16
: "prostitution is labor like any other. Sex industry premises should not be subject toany special regulation or laws.
Indian Position-
The primary law dealing with the status of sex workers is the 1956 law referred to asThe Immoral Traffic (Suppression) Act (SITA). According to this law, prostitutes can practice their tradeprivately but cannot legally solicit customers in public. Organized prostitution (brothels, prostitutionrings, pimping, etc.) is illegal.
17
As long as it is done individually and voluntarily, a woman (maleprostitution is not recognized in the Indian constitution) can use her body's attributes in exchange formaterial 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 normallabour laws, but they possess the right to rescue and rehabilitation if they desire and possess all the rightsof other citizens.The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act or PIT A is a 1986 amendment of legislation passed in 1956 as aresult of the signing by India of the United Nations' declaration in 1950 in New York on the suppressionof trafficking.
18
The Act, then called the All India Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act (SIT A), wasamended to the current law. The laws were intended as a means of limiting and eventually abolishingprostitution in India by gradually criminalizing various aspects of sex work. The main points of the PITAare as follows:
Sex Workers:
A prostitute who seduces or solicits shall be prosecuted. Similarly, call girls can notpublish phone numbers to the public. (Imprisonment up to 6 months with fine, point 8) Sex worker alsopunished for prostitution near any public place or notified area. (Imprisonment of up to 3 months withfine)
Clients:
A client is guilty of consorting with prostitutes and can be charged if he engages in sex acts witha sex worker within 200 yards of a public place or "notified area". (Imprisonment of up to 3 months. point7) The client may also be punished if the sex worker is below 18 years of age. (From 7 to 10 years of imprisonment, whether with a child or a minor)
11
wn.com/whore_makeup
12
danielhaas.org/tag/matthew/ 
13
 
dictionary.sensagent.com/prostitution/en-en/ 
-
United States
 
14
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution
15
www.plri.org/sites/plri.../Examples%20of%20different%20frameworks.do
16
hotdogfish.wordpress.com/.../human-trafficking-prostitution-our-world-4
17
www.lawyersupdate.co.in/LU/9/869.as
18
www.hrmun.org/.../HRMUN-Study-Guide-Human-Rights-Council-2010.pdf 

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