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The plight of women- the trade of bodies!

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A prostitute is a person who is legally defined as one “who allows her body to be used for lewd purposes in return for payment”. Prostitution is the sale of sexual services for money. The very word itself speaks about the plight of women and the universality of this issue is no secret as it isn’t just India but throughout the world prostitution has become a profession either of choice or compulsion.
Prostitution was a part of daily life in ancient Greece and is technically illegal but widely practiced in India today. By one count it is an $8 billion a year industry with more than two million prostitutes and 275,000 brothels. In another count in all of India, there are as many as 10 million commercial sex workers and their core clientele has traditionally been truck drivers, migrant workers and other men separated from their families for long periods of time.

Many teenage girls turn to prostitution to raise money for their families or out of need for money to deal with a debt or a problem related to their husbands. Some village girls are tricked into entering the trade in the cities with promises of good money or another kind of job. One survey found that a third of all prostitute enter the trade because of poverty and more than a forth become prostitutes after marital problems. The prostitution continued from ancient and medieval India and has taken a more gigantic outlook in modern India, the devadasi system still continues ,according to a report of National Human Rights Commission of the Government of India,” after initiation as devadasis, women migrate either to nearby towns or other far-off cities to practice prostitution”.

The practice of dedicating devadasis was declared illegal by the Government of Karnataka in 1982 and the Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1988. However the practice is still prevalent in around 10 districts of north Karnataka and 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh. Districts bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka, known as the “devadasi belt,” have trafficking structures operating at various levels. The women here are in prostitution either because their husbands deserted them, or they are trafficked through coercion and deception. “Most of these women were either forced by gang members and others to take up this profession or were betrayed with false promises of a job. Both the central government and the state governments have enacted statutes to repress and abolish prostitution. By some estimates child prostitution in India is a multi-billion dollar industry. India may have half a million children in brothels, more than any other country in the world. Many are barely in their teens. A shocking number have HIV or AIDS. No children enter the prostitution trade on their free will. Some are runaways or victims of abuse. Other have been sold by their parents, abducted or enticed by gifts. Between 5,000 and 7,000 young girls are brought from Nepal to India to become prostitutes every year. Children are also brought in from Bangladesh. According to human rights groups, about 90 percent of the Bombay prostitutes are indentured servants, with close to half trafficked from Nepal. Some families sell their daughters into prostitution. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 Nepalese women have been shipped to India as prostitutes and sex slaves, with between 5,000 and 7,000 new girls, usually between 10 and 20, arriving every year. Many of them are brought by traffickers who sell the girls for as little as $1,000 a piece.

Some Countries around the World That Have Legalized Prostitution

  1. New Zealand; – Prostitution has been legal for Kiwis since 2003
  2. Austria: – Prostitution is completely legal in Austria. Prostitutes are required to register, undergo periodic health examinations, be 19 years old or older, and pay taxes.
  3. Belgium: – They have 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 keycards! 4. Bangladesh:- Male prostitution is illegal, but everything else is legal.

Where does India stand?

Prostitution itself is not illegal in our country, but soliciting and public prostitution is illegal. Owning a brothel is also against the law, but, as places like GB Road and Kamathipura prove, these laws are rarely enforced.

Causes of prostitution:

  • Ill treatment by parents. Bad company. Family prostitutes. Social customs. inability to arrange marriage, Lack of sex education, media. Prior incest and rape. Early marriage and desertion. Lack of recreational facilities, ignorance, and acceptance of prostitution. Economic causes include poverty and economic distress. Psychological causes include desire for physical pleasure, greed, and dejection.

Formal education should be made available to those victims who are still within the school going age, while non-formal education should be made accessible to adults. Rehabilitation and reintegration of rescued victims being a long-term Recruitment of adequate number of trained counselors and social workers in institutions/homes run by the government independently or in collaboration with non-governmental organizations. Awareness generation and legal literacy on economic rights, particularly for women and adolescent girls should be taken up.

Author is a law student, freelance writer and can be reached at: [email protected]

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