Should Prostitution be Legalized?
The very suggestion seems shocking. Isn’t it? How could one even think of allowing a degrading and humiliating state of affairs to become a full fledged legal profession? Well, it is a fact that prostitution is here to stay in spite of and despite the laws that exist. People still frequent prostitutes. And women are still selling their bodies. So, is that all justification enough to legalize prostitution like in several other countries? What about the women sex workers themselves? How beneficial is legalization going to be to them? Is their situation going to improve or degrade further with legalization?
How voluntary is prostitution?
From the time of the devadasis in ancient India where celibate dancing girls were offered to Hindu Gods, when tawaifs were patronized in the name of art, dance and culture till the British era when the red light area was created solely to refresh the British troops, prostitutes have been living off their bodies. While for some it is an inheritance that has been forced down the generations, still others have been victims of lust, dejection, incest, rape and poverty. Prostitutes don’t earn their living only in brothels; there are innumerable women doing their jobs in bars, hotels, streets, beauty parlours, etc.
Laws like SITA (Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act) and PITA (Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act) have been in existence from the year 1956 but prostitution has neither been suppressed nor prevented even 44 years later. So, what will legislation do? Those for legislation of the world’s oldest profession believe that by this the women will no longer get victimized unnecessarily by the law. Maybe, this would also enable them to get regular health check-ups done for HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, etc. Maybe, the pimps and traffickers can be got out of the way enabling for better rights for the prostitutes themselves. Maybe, with legalization, the children of the prostitutes will not be forced into following in their mothers’ footsteps considering the fact that their mothers will be functioning independently without fear and with economic independence. This way, they will be able to provide their children with the education they never got.
But then, there are too many ‘ifs,’ ‘buts’ and ‘maybes.’ What if legalization only serves to promote prostitution and increase the number of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in an already HIV/AIDS infested nation? Will legalization be able to curb child prostitution? Will making prostitution legal not make the prostitutes only just shift their clientele (non-voluntarily) to the law (officers, etc) in order to see that their licenses remain valid? Lastly, prostitution is 99 out of 100 per cent forced than voluntary at least in India. No woman would want to take up a profession like prostitution unless circumstance places her in such a situation. So, placing prostitution on par with other professions serves no constructive purpose. Will it give the woman the dignity she deserves?
The solution for prostitution lies in destroying the mental set-up of the men who visit prostitutes to satiate their carnal desires (in spite of having wives) and also being instrumental in spreading Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The solution lies in re-habilitating women who are already in the profession and want to get out of it. On the other side, since prostitution is bound to function anyway (ethics apart), will legalization be of any help?
What do you think friends?