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Should Prostitution be Legalized?

Prostitution is the act or practice of providing one’s body for sexual purpose to another person in return of payment. The person who carry out such activities are called prostitutes. The word itself shows the predicament of these women. It point out the dilemma of these women who engage into this profession because of sheer poverty, family pressure, bad company,  prior incest or rape, etc. Prostitution is a problem which exists not only in India but in the entire world. India today is a home to the Asia’s largest red light district in Mumbai- Kamathipura where over 150000 girls are into prostitution. It is believed to have been started by the Britishers.


Prostitution was a part of daily life in Greece and represented the top level economic activities. It had been a practice in Armenia where the noblest families even gave their daughter to the service of God Acilisena. In Ancient India these girls were referred to as devadasi and were dedicated to gods. This practice later ritualized into prostitution where the girls were used as prostitutes to please the upper class people and were known as jogini. This ritual started after the fall of Buddhism in 6th century.


In Kamasutra by Vatsayana prostitution was not considered disgraceful but was a noble profession where the prostitutes were prized by their lovers and could deny anyone at their will. She enjoyed a position of power. They were considered as women of high intelligence and manners by the Nawabs of Lucknow. They were appointed to impart training to their sons and daughters.


In today’s world of commercialization the profession has become very callous, cruel and brutal. The profession which was earlier regarded as noble is now degraded just because of uncleanness of lust and ravage it has become a vulgar form of soul trade. There is a need to refer to the myths were the profession was regarded as noble and wake up the nation from the clutches of ignorance.


The main causes that lead to prostitution in India are ill treatment by parents, bad company, family prostitutes, social customs, inability to arrange marriage, lack of sex education, prior incest and rape, early marriage and desertion, economic causes like poverty and economic distress and many more. In India about 2.8million women are into prostitution and their number is ever increasing. Not only this, women are traded from other countries like Bangladesh and Nepal and brought into India where they are thrown into the clutches of the pimps who engage them into this profession against their will by using violence. Every hour 4 women and girl enter into prostitution, out of which 3 enter against their will. There have been cases in India like Gaurav Jain v. Union of India, where directions were given for upliftment of prostitutes and setting up of juvenile centers for child prostitutes. There have been a number of laws in the country to prevent illegal trafficking in women and children like, Suppression of Immoral Trafficking in Women and Girls Act 1956 and Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act 1956. These laws do not criminalize prostitution but punishes third party facilitating prostitution.


In most of the countries like India where most of the people indulge in unprotected sex AIDS is a growing problem. It had been first reported in India in women involved in sex trade. However steps have been taken by various NGO’s to eradicate this problem, e.g. in the red light area of Kolkata, Sonagachi the sex workers insisted their clients to use condoms while having sex. Thus steps should be taken in other parts of the country also to have protected sex. There have also been other diseases like traumatic brain injury, HIV, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and psychological disorders that have been reported among these sex workers.


Some people who stick more to their morals and values than their intellect opine that prostitution should not be legalized whereas others say that prostitution should be legalized to curb its menace in today’s society. In India prostitution should be made legal as the problem of prostitution is inevitable, so the prostitutes should be accepted in our society and considered as its part. By legalizing prostitution we will atleast have a track record of the sexworkers. They can be provided with better medical facilities to control AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. We will also be able to track down the people involved in illegal trafficking of women. Like today the pimps who are involved in such things also involve themselves into robbery, theft and violence with the clients and the clients could not go to the police as they themselves were involved in an illegal act. Further the police is also involved in such activities these days. So if prostitution is legalized we can track down these pimps who involve themselves in such illegal activities. Legalization of prostitution will control the sex industry, will decrease the hidden and illegal street prostitution and will protect the rights of the women in prostitution as these women do not have rights. A sex worker is not entitled to even ration cards and is precluded from the democratic process of the country. By legalizing prostitution women involved will be issued licenses and would be given a proper identity. They will no longer be harassed by police or any other person. They can be given easy access to medical facilities. Thus the merits of legalizing prostitution have outcome its demerits.


Is there anybody in India who is unaware of the illegal prostitution that is going on in the country? Is there a single lawyer or a single judge who doesn’t know about the illegalized trafficking in women going in the country? But still no steps have been taken to counter this problem. There is no law that prevents or criminalizes prostitution in the country. So why not legalize it?

Article by-

Tanmay Sadh

Student,  University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun.

[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]

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