Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Anshul Parsai

Prostitution- Legal or illegal in India- Final Conclusion

Prostitution-Lawji
Sex Work, or as it is usually called Prostitution, is looked upon as an immoral profession in our country and even the word 'prostitute' is often used as an abusive adjective.

The practice of prostitution is as old as anything else in our society. Since ancient times, there has been some or the other similar practice where women had intercourses in exchange of money. From Gods to Emporers, prostitution has been common in reigns of all. With 'Kamasutra' explaining about the practice, Kautilya's Arth-Shastra also provides for details and tips for managing the conducts of a prostitute. But the 'modern' society in a way or another does disrespect the profession.

From the 'Devadasi system' to 'Prostitutes', our society has traveled a lot within the cosmos of ideas and opinions. With the practice never getting put to hold, society has turned away from accepting the oldest profession in the world as morally right.

It's kind of absurd when a society whose ancestors worshiped sex, has norms which don't even allow talking about it in public.

But, is prostitution illegal in India? most of you would say yes. But what if I say...

Lawji-Prostitution-Legal or illegal

Yes, prostitution in India is not illegal but is partly illegal instead.
Article 19(g) of the Indian Constitution provides a right to practice any profession to the citizens of the country. And the rights and duties of the workers or professionals are governed by the Labour Laws, which give them rights to association etc. But wait, is prostitution governed by those laws as well? I'd say No. The main statute dealing with prostitution is 'The Immoral Traffic Suppression Act' 1956, commonly called as SITA, and its amended version 'The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act' 1986 (PITA). Let's have a look what they say.

With regard to meaning of 'Prostitution' (although we're aware of an adequately proper definition of the word), the statute (PITA) says - 'the sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes or for consideration in money or in any other kind, and the expression “prostitute” shall be construed accordingly'. According to Section 7 of the act, it is illegal to carry out the profession of prostitution with the distance of 200 meters of any public place like a place of worship, educational institutions, hospitals or hotels (Yes! hotels too). Thus prostitution is legal as long as it is 200m away from the public and is done privately. Even though the act remains legit, there are certain things around the main business which are illegal and punishable, interestingly, depending on the earnings from prostitution is punishable. Section 4 of PITA says that any major (18+), who wholly or partly depends on the earnings of a sex worker may be awarded an imprisonment of a couple of years or a fine of a thousand bucks or both, there's a debate going on regarding this provision. In the cases of child prostitution, the jail time is 7-10 years. Persuading, inducing or procuring someone for the sake of prostitution, as per section 5, is punishable with a term of 3-7 years and may extend to a period of a lifetime in case of child prostitution. Also, a prostitute is not allowed to seduce or solicit anyone and call girls are not supposed to publish their contact numbers or advertisements in public.

Thus there are several rules which make some of the stuff around the 'immoral' profession unlawful or punishable.
Just like any other Indian Law, the laws regarding prostitution are also gender biased (well, kind of). The Indian law doesn't recognize 'Male' Prostitution yet. Also, any adult male living with a prostitute is PRESUMED to be guilty of living on the earnings of the prostitute like a pimp. After many cases, I think male prostitution too, requires some attention.

The government, as per section 21 of PITA, can establish 'protective homes' for people who are victims of this line of 'work' and are in need of care and protection. Heard of them?

Conclusion:
So, prostitution or Sex Work is not illegal in India but has several limitations associated with it. And, any reasonable person would understand that the laws are not up to the mark. The government has not been doing much with respect to the crimes associated with the profession. But along with good laws what we need the most is - Awareness. Awareness of all sorts, awareness about the laws, awareness about the rights, awareness about STDs and condoms, awareness about the help provided by the government. Prostitution is very old profession in the world, thus couldn't be wrong, but individuals being forced into it is a matter of serious concern and need to be addressed.