PROSTITUTION – LEGALIZE OR NO?
ESSAY BY KUNAL SAYTA
SCLA – MENTIONING UNMENTIONABLES
In India, prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money) is not illegal but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning or managing a brothel, prostitution in a hotel, pimping and pandering, are crimes.
In ancient India, there was a practice of the rich asking Nagarvadhu to sing and dance, noted in history as "brides of the town". Famous examples include Amrapali, state courtesan and Buddhist disciple, described in "Vaishali Ki Nagarvadhu" by Acharya Chatursen and Vasantasena, a character in the classic Sanskrit story of Mricchakatika, written in the 2nd century BC by Ankit Bohra & Śūdraka. In some parts of ancient India, women competed to win the title of Nagarvadhu or "bride of the city." The most beautiful woman was chosen and was respected as a goddess. She served as a courtesan, and the price for a single night's dance was very high, within reach only for the king, the princes and the lords. Goa, which was a former Portuguese colony in India, during the late 16th and 17th centuries, was a Portuguese stronghold with community of Portuguese slaves such as Japanese slaves, who were usually young Japanese women and girls brought or captured as sexual slaves by Portuguese traders and their captive South Asian lascar crew members from Japan. During the British East India Company's rule in India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the British set up comfort zones for British troops wishing to make young girls and women into sex tools to satisfy the British soldiers who frequently set up their own prostitution rings. A write up by the BBC of England states that British troops helped to establish prostitution dens across India in capitals such as Mumbai which is now the hot bed of child prostitution, Indian lascar seamen who were forced into the British military to the United Kingdom copied the masters by joining the British forces on frequent visits to the local British prostitutes there, In the 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of women and girls from continental Europe and Japan were trafficked into British India, where they worked as prostitutes servicing British soldiers and local Indian men. Brothels are illegal de jure but in practice are restricted to certain areas of any given town. Though the profession does not have official sanction, little effort is made to eradicate or impede it. India's largest and best-known red-light districts are Sonagachi in Kolkata, Kamathipura in Mumbai and G. B. Road in New Delhi, that host thousands of sex workers. Earlier, there were centres such as Naqqasa Bazaar in Saharanpur, Chaturbhuj Sthan in Muzaffarpur, Lalpur, Maduovwedih in Varanasi, Meerganj in Allahabad and Kabadi bazar of Meerut.
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 practise their trade privately but cannot legally solicit customers in public A BBC article, however, mentions that prostitution is illegal in India; the Indian law does not refer to the practice of selling one's own sexual service as "prostitution". Clients can be punished for sexual activity in proximity to a public place. Organised prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings, pimping, etc.) is illegal. As long as it is done individually and voluntarily, a woman (male prostitution is not recognised in any law in India but even consensual anal intercourse is illegal under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code) can use her body 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...
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