Prostitution in India
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In India, prostitution (exchanging sex for money) is legal, but related activities such as soliciting sex, operating brothels and pimping are illegal.
Prostitution is currently a contentious issue in India. In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development reported the presence of 2.8 million sex workers in India, with 35.47 percent of them entering the trade before the age of 18 years. The number of prostitutes has doubled in the last decade.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, Indian anti-trafficking laws are designed to combat commercialized vice; prostitution, as such, is not illegal. A sex worker can be punished for soliciting or seducing in public, while clients can be punished for sexual activity in proximity to a public place, and the organization puts the figure of sex workers in India at around 20 million, with Mumbai alone being home to 200,000 sex workers, the largest sex industry centre in Asia. Over the years, India has seen a growing mandate to legalize prostitution, to avoid exploitation of sex workers and their children by middlemen and in the wake of growing HIV/AIDS menace.
Normally, female prostitutes are categorised as common prostitutes, singers and dancers, call girls, religious prostitutes (or devadasi), and caged brothel prostitutes. Districts borderingMaharashtra and Karnataka, known as the ‘devadasi belt’, have trafficking structures operating at various levels . Brothels are illegal de jure but in practice are restricted in location to certain areas of any given town. Though the profession does not have official sanction, little effort is made to eradicate or impede it.
Sonagachi in Kolkata, Kamathipura in Mumbai, G. B. Road in New Delhi, Reshampura in Gwalior and Budhwar Peth in Pune host thousands of sex workers. They are famous red lightcentres in India. Earlier, there were other centres such as Dal Mandi in Varanasi, Naqqasa Bazaar in Saharanpur, Mali Sahi in Bhubaneshwar, Chaturbhuj Sthan in Muzaffarpur,Peddapuram and Gudivada in Andhra Pradesh.Meerganj Allahabad Ganga Jamuna Nagpur.
The primary law dealing with the status of sex workers is the 1956 law referred to as The Immoral Traffic (Suppression) Act (SITA). According to this law, prostitutes can practice their trade privately but cannot legally solicit customers in public. Organized prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings, pimping, etc.) is illegal. As long as it is done individually and voluntarily, a woman (male prostitution is not recognized in the Indian constitution) can use her body's attributes in exchange for material benefit. In particular, the law forbids a sex worker to carry on her profession within 200 yards of a public place. Unlike as is the case with other professions, sex workers are not protected under normal labour laws, but they possess the right to rescue and rehabilitation if they desire and possess all the rights of other citizens.
In practice SITA is not commonly used. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) which predates the SITA is often used to charge sex workers with vague crimes such as "public indecency" or being a "public nuisance" without explicitly defining what these consist of. Recently the old law has been amended as The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act or PITA. Attempts to amend this to criminalise clients  have been opposed by the Health Ministry, and has encountered considerable opposition. In an interesting and positive development in the improvement of the lives of female sex workers in Calcutta, a state-owned insurance company has provided life insurance to 250 individuals.
Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act or PITA is a 1986 amendment of legislation passed in 1956 as a result of the signing by India of the United Nations' declaration in 1950 in New York on the suppression of trafficking. The act, then called...
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