Author: Harsimar Kaur
Student, Panjab University Regional Centre, Ludhiana
In the world’s biggest democracy, Women’s have been granted equal rights and status as of a man. In an era of feminism, women are nevertheless than men. But does this equal status denotes that they have absolute right over their body which means that they can do whatever they want with their body. The spine of the controversy revolves around women’s right to sell her body in reference to prostitution in India. Prostitution is believed to be the oldest form of profession and yet one of the most profitable businesses. However, Indian history is evident that prostitution is a form of work that did exist in ancient India during the time of Raja’s and Maharaja’s. The basic meaning of prostitution is to sell one’s body for sexual work in exchange of money and the person involved is known as “Prostitute”.
Earlier, only females were involved in the field of prostitution but today men are also undertaking escort services. The legality of prostitution differs from nation to nation and thus, sometimes result in contrasting conclusion. Taking view point of America, certain parts of the country has legalized prostitution. ‘Alice Little’ who works in Nevada, America says to be the most expensive and highest paid sex worker. People have different opinion regarding this profession. Some expressed their opinion in the form that this is a profitable business should be legalized all over the world; other are of view point that it is a type of abuse against women and kids which give rise to another crime.
Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are the cities where major brothels are operating on a large scale. But why does a woman feel the need to sell her body? This question can be answered with conflicting views. Unemployment and poverty are major factors for engaging women in sexual work for exchange of money. On the side, there are some women’s who voluntarily take the work of prostitution believing it to be the easiest way to earn high some of monetary benefits. Moreover, there are some women’s or even minor girls who does this work involuntary. These girls fall under the prey or some trap thus compelling them to have sex with their clients against their will. Mostly these girls are from rural area of India who fall into this trap. Today the drive or demand for sex has increased to such extend that it is next to impossible to get rid of this profession even after criminalizing it. Therefore, some countries have completely legalized sex work and people in that country are voluntarily taking the profession of prostitution and on the other side of the coin, there are some nations who have legalized prostitution with some limitations and constraints.
In India, the legality related to prostitution is quite complex in nature it is because prostitution is not completely illegal in India or maybe we can say that prostitution is partially legal in India. There some activities related to prostitution such as operating brothel, soliciting, Trafficking which make it illegal and a Punishable offence in India. Majority of the people in India want this Industry to shut down completely on the basis of its immoral nature yet we can’t ignore the fact that this one of the most flourishing industries in demand. Indian legislation such as Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) extends to the whole of India for the protection of Women and Children from Immoral Trafficking. Moreover, Indian Penal Code of 1860 mention offences related to Child Prostitution under Section 372 and 373. Moreover, there are laws that punish an activity of importing girls from foreign nations for the purpose of carrying out escort services.
India with a country of large number of prostitutes, the attitude of police towards them is actually brutal and violent. Many times, it has seen that police have failed to provide safety and protection to the females indulged in Prostitution. Some of the Indian conservative society completely prohibits and ban them for entering their premises. Keeping such attitude in mind Supreme Court Recently made a statement where it clearly mentions that Sex Workers should be treated with respect and dignity and police cannot interfere in their work if an Adult is indulged in Consensual sex work. In addition to that, adult females can carry out their sex work voluntary without any interference by the police and it should be carried out in a place which is 200 yards away from a public place. Our Indian Constitution grants Fundamental Rights to every citizen. Article 21 provides for Protection of Life and Liberty of every individual which also includes sex workers. Therefore, it is the duty of the state to keep a check that nobody should be condemned of protection based on their profession. There have been some concrete cases where Supreme Court has directed Central Government to make schemes for sex workers to make their life better.
Now the question is about the Rights of a Women to Sell her Body. Criminalizing prostitution will automatically take away the Right of the women towards her body. Therefore, many liberals strongly put emphasis to make sex work a legal profession. Illegality of sex work will take women’s autonomy and they no longer will be in charge of their own bodies. Women should be given a choice to make decision regarding their bodies. Not even Women, Men should also be given similar rights to have complete autonomy over their bodies. Apart from this, legalizing sex work has many benefits as well. Legal sex work will make a better life for prostitutes and they will be granted with Labour Rights. Police cannot interfere and abuse them for their choice of profession and they can fearlessly go to police to seek protection regarding any abuse by the client. Their work can be carried out in an organized manner. They will earn respect and can live a dignified life without any discrimination. The government can also make sure that minors are not involved in prostitution. Regular health check ups can be set up for them to protect them from STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). The most important benefits arising out of legalizing sex work is that there will be less number of cases related to rapes and trafficking. Proper pension schemes can be regulated for them.
Therefore, we can say that legalizing sex work is directly proportional to granting rights to women to sell her body. But the world is divided to two different sects and therefore, some individuals have also put forward their views regarding decriminalizing sex work. According to them, this will result in reduction of violent sex and it will make society a better place to live. They believe that instead of legalizing sex work, these prostitutes should be given some training so that they can learn skill with the help of which they can indulge them self in a better job and make a living out of them.
At last, we can say that women should have an absolute right over her body with regard to voluntary indulging herself in escort services. We have also seen that even after decriminalizing sex work, this profession still exists on a large scale throughout the world. Therefore, regularization and legalization of prostitution is much better option to pursue for the protection of people indulging in it.