Should Prostitution be Legalized?

Prostitution means the commercial exchange of sex for money, goods, service, or some other benefit agreed upon by the transacting parties. Pimping is procuring or pandering the action or practice of controlling prostitutes and arranging clients for them, taking part of their earnings in return. Prostitution has been rebuked as a form of human rights abuse, and an attack on the dignity and worth of human beings. However, many argue that sex work is a legitimate occupation, whereby a person trades or exchanges sexual acts for money and/or goods. Prostitution must be legalized because it provides livelihood to needy and poor women and would help such workers in routine screening for sexually transmitted diseases. It would be easier for the prostitutes to come out and report cases of harassment. Moreover, male prostitution, which is not recognized in the Indian constitution yet, might get the proper recognition in the society. 

There are multiple pushing factors of women’s involvement in sex work, some voluntarily and others involuntarily. Voluntary causes include poverty, worse economic conditions, and illness in family, debt, sex for enjoyment, peer association, family neglect, domestic clashes, and drug-addiction in husbands. In involuntary causes comes, forced rape, sexual assault, early marriages, trafficking, deceived by family, deceived by lover. Many young women enter into this world to make ends meet. The very first reason why women turn into prostitutes is to make money. The poverty rate is increasing at an alarming rate and hence, people venture into other means of making money. Women who are not educated enough to get a decent job, are forced to enter this profession as they see it as their sole means of survival or continuity of their education. Jason Brown (2006)

Health problems associated with prostitution, such as STD’s and HIV/AIDS are commonly assumed to be ‘risks of the trade’. However, legalization of prostitution can help to decrease the chances of spreading HIV/AIDS and STD’s. A legalized system that shared the responsibility for safe sexual practices could facilitate the role of health education. Furthermore, a regular monthly check-up and the use of condoms will be enforced to increase public awareness to prevent the spread of the diseases. Besides, brothel owners can be held accountable if a customer contracts HIV and the prostitute tests positive for it. Medical reports are required for prostitutes to certify the condition of their health. As a result, the bordellos will compete with each other, and the suppliers have strong incentives to ensure that the ‘service’ that their customers receive is safe. Clearly, the spread of AIDS would be reduced by the legalization of prostitution services. Avert (2017)

Many people support legal prostitution arguing that it is a consensual sex act between adults and it is a victimless crime. I believe that prostitutes themselves are often victims, arguing that prostitution is a practice that can lead to serious psychological and often physical long-term effects for the prostitutes. Women prostitutes have to face worse and severe consequences in respect of customers’ behavior like refusing of payment, kidnapping, and sexual assault, beating, forcefully abusive acts, violence, drug abusing, threatening, and sexual abuse.  After prostitution being legal, women who had to face such adversities would be able to reach out for help. They can actually file complaints of abuse and harassment without thinking twice about their profession. Shahid Qayyum (2013) found out that as prostitution is illegal, prostitutes are unable to report such crimes of abuse committed against them out of fear of being prosecuted themselves for the crime of prostitution.  

Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) talks about criminalizing various aspects of sex work. In point 21[1], it talks about how the government is obligated to rescue women requiring assistance but apparently, male prostitution prevails in society as much as female prostitution does. Male prostitution is the act or practice of men providing sexual services in return for payment.  Compared to female prostitutes, male prostitutes have been far less studied by researchers. “The legal definition of prostitution reflects the conventional social perception of prostitution for a greater part of history as a female phenomenon, despite the existence of male prostitution. This is largely the product of structural and cultural factors that account for gender roles and stereotypes in society.” Jean D’Cunha (1992)

Several organizations are opposed to prostitution, considering it a form of exploitation in which males dominate women, and as a practice that is the result of a patriarchal social order. Peterson concludes from her essay that “Prostitution ultimately harms the integrity of women.” Moreover, Peterson also says, “It is evident that prostitutes are relatively powerless when compared to their customers especially when the prostitutes are young or poor.” However, prostitutes, in some other cases, seem to take pleasure in the sense that they are more powerful than their customers, that their sexual attractiveness affords them a measure of dominance and control over the other.

Prostitution will continue to exist despite bans, due to reasons like poverty or unforeseen situations. Some countries choose to completely ban the practice, while other countries try to regulate prostitution, and provide sex workers with health and social benefits. In New Zealand, prostitution has been legal for Kiwis since 2003. There are licensed brothels operating under public health and employment laws, meaning the workers get social benefits just like other employees. Prostitution is completely legal in Austria. Prostitutes are required to register, undergo periodic health examinations, be 19 years old or older, and pay taxes. Belgium government has been trying to remove the stigma, violence, and fear associated with prostitution by not just legalizing it but also running proper state of the art brothels with fingerprint technology and key-cards. Prostitution was legalized in Germany in 1927 and there are proper state run brothels. The workers are provided with health insurance, have to pay taxes and even receive social benefits like pensions. Greece includes prostitution as an actual job in society. The sex workers get equal rights and have to often go for health check-ups.

The practice of prostitution is already integrated into the economic, social and political life of the countries and contributes in no small measure to employment, national income, and economic growth. The legalization of prostitution can also help in promoting the tourism industry. This is because sex tourism is in high demand where sex tourists may travel to a country specifically for sex. When sex tourists arrived at their destination, they are also attracted to the local tourism places apart from sex affairs. Furthermore, this will increase the flow of foreign currencies into the country as sex tourists will spend on other services like food and accommodation. As prostitution is legalized, it is considered a job. Therefore, the government can earn a large amount of revenue by taxing on the prostitutes’ income. As a result, the government can use this lump sum of money to provide welfare to the public to increase the standard of living of the country. Shame will not stop the prostitution profession. So, if it is unable to be stopped, the best solution is to legalize the profession.

 

 

 

 Brown, Jason, et al. “Challenges Faced by Women Working in the Inner City Sex Trade.”

         Canadian Journal of Urban Research, vol. 15, no. 1, 2006, pp. 36–53. JSTOR,

www.jstor.org/stable/44320847.

  ProCon.org. “Would Legal Prostitution Decrease Sexually Transmitted Diseases?”

ProCon.org. 3 Jan. 2018, prostitution.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000107

Qayyum, Shahid, et al. “Causes and Decision of Women’s Involvement into Prostitution and its Consequences”, Department of Sociology, G. C. University Faisalabad, September 2013,  https://docplayer.net/30293308-Causes-and-decision-of-women-s-involvement-into-prostitution-and-its-consequences-in-punjab-pakistan.html

Jean D’Cunha. “Prostitution Laws: Ideological Dimensions and Enforcement Practices.”

Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 27, no. 17, 1992, pp. WS34–WS44.

JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4397796

Peterson-Iyer, Karen. “Prostitution: A Feminist Ethical Analysis.” Journal of Feminist

Studies in Religion, vol. 14, no. 2, 1998, pp. 19–44. JSTOR,

www.jstor.org/stable/25002334


[1] Prostitution Laws: Ideological Dimensions and Enforcement Practices

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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