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Would prostitutes' lives be easier if their trade was legal in India?

Gaylaxy | Updated on: 18 April 2016, 21:32 IST

Prostitution has always been defined as "the oldest profession", which is technically far from an exaggeration. Prostitution has been omnipresent from the epic times of Old Testament to the neo- modernisation era. It has passed through various passages of being praised, being tolerated, prosecuted or ignored as if it never existed.

Currently, there is wide debate on the issue of whether prostitution should be legalized, and whether the pros of legalization outweigh the cons. There are seemingly many different opinions and approaches to this dispute.

The question remains - whether or not we should legalise prostitution? There are different views that exist across the globe on the issue of prostitution. The Indian government classified prostitution as violence against women and initiated various rehabilitation programs to help these people move into other work sectors. According to the government, buying sex was considered illegal however selling sex remained legal.

Some of the countries across the globe have legalised prostitution and have to maintain regulations and standards to keep the women safe, healthy, and free of abuse. Legalising prostitution in some of the countries like Germany and Italy has not been successful. Germany stands as the third example of a country that has failed to regulate legal prostitution. There is one place in the United States that is quite close to the same circumstance and that is Nevada. These regulations prohibit anyone from forcing or attempting to entice a woman in becoming a prostitute. It also ceases the chances of anyone from forcing or attempting to entice a woman to work as a prostitute in a brothel.

Legalizing prostitution may or may not enhance women's choice to enter this profession. Prostitution for most women is an involuntary way of making ends meet. Most women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution; rather, such choices are better termed survival strategies. Most emphasised that women in prostitution had few other options.

There is no doubt that a small number of women choose to be in the business, especially in public contexts adapted by the sex industry. Just like how some people choose to take fatal drugs irrespective of the truth. However, even when some people choose to take fatal drugs, we still recognize that this kind of drug use is harmful to them, and most people do not seek to legalize those chemical drugs.

In my opinion, prostitution too is an occupation and it has nothing to do with morality or moral values. But the word 'prostitute' is rarely referred to as an occupational group of women who earn their livelihood by selling sex.

Our social structure is such that, we cannot construct and image of a bad woman without creating one for good woman. The basic construction of woman in terms of binary oppositions, excludes possibilities of grey.

Feminists in India and across the globe face challenges not only from the state, but from the women who identifies themselves as so called 'civilized women with high moral values' which satisfies the taste of patriarchal society. This omnipresent society rejects the idea of legalization of prostitution.

This post authored by Manisha Jha originally appeared in Gaylaxy with the title, "Will legalising prostitution in India be helpful for the sex workers?"

First published: 18 April 2016, 21:32 IST
 
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