The Latin term prostituere, which meaning to expose publicly, is where the word
"prostitution" originates. Prostitution is the practise of providing sexual
services in exchange for payment. Prostitution, like other male-on-female acts
of violence, is a problem that is primarily a problem for women because most of
the victims are female. To claim that men are not victims of sexual exploitation
and violence would be a little stupid, though. Moreover, when we highlight the
flaws in India's prostitution system, the transgender minority frequently
The majority of the billions of dollars made by prostitution
in India and around the world comes from exploiting those who are weak on the
social and economic front. India has long practised prostitution as a vocation.
In reality, sex workers are mentioned as "apsaras" in a number of Hindu
The devdasi system, which was prominent among Hindus
throughout the pre-colonial era, required them to give their female child away
as a symbol of their devotion to God. Devdasi, which literally translates as
"devoted to the deity," refers to people who were married to the god and were
therefore exempt from having to wed anybody else. They were highly talented
artists who had achieved sexual liberation, particularly in classical dance and
However, exploitation and suppression were brought about by colonialism.
The basics of sexual emancipation, femininity, art, and culture were transformed
by the British into devotion, bhakti, and other religious practises.
Additionally, as feudalism and colonialism declined, these women began to
experience abuse at the hands of temple priests. Consequently, they become
susceptible to both poverty and sexual exploitation.
This is among the earliest
types of prostitution still practised in India. Since the fall of the Mugal
Empire, things have gotten worse for those in the lowest rungs of society,
particularly the women working in harems, palaces, and brothels. The primary
cause of prostitution is poverty. In the patriarchal society of India, it is
challenging for a woman to be financially independent, particularly if she has
been denied access to education, freedom, and skills development.
As a result,
the only occupation available to get money is prostitution. The fact that women
are susceptible to sexual exploitation is a result of the rigid, orthodox
society in India, which regards them only as an item or a commodity. The
prevalent caste system in India, where marginalised women are frequently
sexually exploited and left to rot in the degraded system, is another major
contributor to prostitution.
Before arguing for the legalisation of
prostitution, one must accept its existence and necessity in society,
particularly in India, where discussing sex is still a significant taboo. The
main justification for their position is typically that prostitution is
unethical. Many people frequently argue against the legalisation of prostitution
and demand that the behaviour be criminalised.
However, we are unaware that
despite the fact that the majority of people view prostitution as unethical, the
sex work sector continues to thrive on demand, just like any other industry. The
firm develops successfully in terms of commercialization if demand rises.
The demand for purchasing sex has grown so strong that it has expanded from red
light districts to exclusive massage parlours and online platforms.
Criminalizing the conduct outright would be the equivalent of turning a blind
eye to the real victims of sexual exploitation and allowing further abuse and
violence toward sex workers.
Prostitution is defined by the Immoral Traffic
(Prevention) Act of 1956 (ITPA) as the sexual exploitation or abuse of a female
for financial gain, and a prostitute is the individual who benefits from this
practise. This law, commonly known as SITA, was passed in 1956. In essence, this
legislation stipulates that while prostitutes are permitted to start their
business in private, they are not permitted to conduct it in public. If the
clients are found guilty of having a sexual act in public, they may be arrested
in accordance with the law.
Within 200 yards of a public space, a woman is not
permitted to engage in commercial sex. Provided how prestigious their line of
work is, sex workers cannot be covered by the current labour laws, but they do
have all the same rights as any other Indian citizen, including the right to be
rescued and given rehabilitation if they so choose. The 1986 Immoral Traffic
(Prevention) Act updates the original law. According to this law, prostitutes
who are caught soliciting business or enticing strangers will be arrested.
girls are also forbidden from disclosing their phone numbers. If discovered
doing so, they risk receiving penalties and a 6-month sentence. Clients who
engage in sexual activity with a sex worker within 200 yards of a public area
are subject to penalties and a possible 3-month sentence in jail. If someone is
caught engaging in sexual behaviour with a minor, they could face up to 10 years
Additionally guilty are pimps and other similar individuals who
support themselves through prostitution. In addition, a guy who is an adult and
lives with a prostitute may be considered guilty. He may spend two to four years
in prison if he cannot establish his innocence. SITA (1956), which was later
changed to become ITPA (1986), is a significant piece of legislation because, as
stated in the preamble, its goal was to implement the Trafficking Convention.
The law was passed by Parliament in the seventh year of the Republic of India
and is referred to as An act to provide in pursuance of the international
convention signed in New York on the 9th day of May 1950, for the prevention of
immoral commerce in women and girls.
The State of Uttar Pradesh v. Kaushalya
was a landmark decision that questioned
the validity of the ITPA. According to the facts of this case, some of the
prostitutes were requested to leave their spots in order to preserve the dignity
of the city of Kanpur. The Indian constitution's Article 14 and subclauses (d)
and (e) of Article 19(1) were deemed to have been violated by section 20 of the
act, according to the High Court of Allahabad.
Due to the clear distinction
between a prostitute and a person producing a nuisance, the Act was found to be
constitutionally valid. The Act is also in line with the goal of upholding
social order and decency, which is what is intended to be accomplished. The act
is focused on attaining a public goal to uphold morality and decorum in society,
rescue the murdered women and girls, and give them opportunity for
rehabilitation and becoming respectable members of society. The act basically
tries to criminalise prostitution and gives the central government the authority
to set up a special court to hear cases involving violations of the act.
The IPC also addresses the issue of human trafficking by outlawing the forced
recruitment of women and girls into the prostitute industry and outlining severe
penalties for violators. According to the IPC, anyone who purchases, sells, or
acquires the possession of a person under the age of 18 for the purpose of
prostitution, illicit sexual activity, or for any other illegal or immoral
purpose, or with knowledge that it is likely that such a person will be employed
for or used for such a purpose at any age, faces a maximum 10-year prison
According to the IPC, whoever imports a girl under the age of
twenty-one into India from any country outside India with the intention that she
may be forced or seduced to engage in illicit sexual activity with another
person, or knowing it to be likely that she will be, is subject to a fine and a
term of imprisonment that may reach ten years. When an inmate of a brothel is
raped, the IPC's rape clause also applies.
According to the IPC, rape is defined
as an act of sexual activity with a woman that is done against her will, without
her consent, with her consent but under threat or fear of death or harm, with
her consent when she is unaware of the consequences of her consent, with or
without consent when she is under the age of 16 years old. According to the IPC,
7 years in jail is the minimum sentence for rape. When having sex with children
or women who are being imprisoned in brothels, these rules apply to the owners,
employees, and patrons of those establishments.
Following are the crimes which are related to prostitution and Human
- Procuration of Minor girls (Section 366-A IPC).
- Importation of Girls (Section-366-B IPC).
- Selling of Girls for prostitution (Section-372 IPC).
- Buying of Girls for Prostitution (Section-373 IPC).
- Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act 1956.
- Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.
The primary issue with these restrictions is the perception of prostitution as
something immoral, disgusting, and detrimental to social decorum. But the
reality remains that performing sex acts while taking safety precautions and
abiding by the law does not cause harm to anyone. Additionally, sex is a major
taboo in our society, and the demand and supply of sex in a controlled manner is
something to be despised, which is why prostitution is considered something
immoral and the sex workers are seen as indecent.
Because there are sex-related
social standards in place in India and because people continue to adhere to and
benefit from these norms, the reality of sexual violence cannot be accepted by
the population. The attempt to criminalise prostitution-related behaviours shows
how uncomfortable the law is dealing with the true problem and is only making
flimsy, half-hearted changes to address it. The fact that these laws fail to
recognise that men and transgender persons are also subjected to sexual assault,
exploitation, and oppression is another significant feature of Indian laws
relating to prostitution that goes unnoticed.
Giving prostitution in India legal status has been the subject of much
discussion. Since there is little prospect of prostitution being outlawed, it is
thought that regulation is the best course of action. Many nations, including
Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Wales, and others have regulated and made
prostitution legal. In fact, the occupation is both legal and taxed in Germany,
where brothels are permitted to advertise and make employment offers via HR
In order to safeguard prostitutes, Germany passed new legislation in 2016
that mandates a permission for all prostitution trades as well as a prostitute
registration certificate. This type of system, where the industry is regulated
and the protections of the sex workers are taken into account, tends to cause
less harm to the sex workers, and stronger law enforcement secures the system
from abuse and exploitation. In addition to being at risk for deadly STDs like
HIV and AIDS, these sex workers frequently experience police brutality, a
decline in pay, harassment, etc. The Supreme Court itself advocated for the legalisation of prostitution in 2009.
It would be foolish to turn a blind eye to it and act as though the system and
its defects don't exist in a society where prostitution has been a long-standing
profession and is still thriving as a business. Sex workers will live better
lives with greater pay, health security, and protection if sex work is
decriminalised with appropriate rules and regulations and made lawful.
Additionally, it will be a positive move for society as a whole, eradicating
numerous societal ills like child prostitution, rape, etc. Sex trade is a very
real phenomenon in our nation, and by accepting it as a genuine profession with
a set of guidelines and protections, all parties involved can be assured of
receiving advantages. The development of a fairer, more inclusive legal system
and the application of all available safeguards can only benefit society.