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Is prostitution legal in India?

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The concept of prostitution has been in India from ancient periods but the role and definitions kept on changing time to time as the situation changed. Prostitution is the profession which is not accepted in the civilized society, still it exists in the society. In this article we will discuss about legal aspects of prostitution in India, how people today see it and what are the directions of Supreme Court regarding legal aspects of prostitution in India.

What is prostitution?

Prostitution is a practise or business in which people participate in sexual behaviour in return for money, and a prostitute is someone who works in this field. Prostitution has several forms, and its legal position varies from country to country and even from region to region within a country, ranging from upheld or unenforced crime, to unregulated, to a guided vocation.

Male prostitution in 21st century

Previously, only females were considered prostitutes, and males were their customers; but now, the situation is a bit different where in the twenty-first century, males, females, and transgender people all participate in this industry. According to an investigation report by a news agency, the number of male prostitutes in India is rapidly increasing. When there are no female clients, it is also stated that sex is sold to the male clients. Gigolo refers to male prostitutes. 

What are major causes of prostitution?

There are a variety of circumstances that drive a woman to engage in commercial sex, with inequality and poverty are one of the most important. 

Women from remote areas have been known to fall prey to unscrupulous brokers who promise them excellent job options after selling them as trafficked women. 

Poverty is the primary motivator for needy and disadvantaged women to turn to prostitution. 

It is widely accepted that, of all the aspects that influence to prostitution, poverty is the primary one that drives people into prostitution.

Around 6 percent of rape victim women enter into prostitution

There are very examples where survivers of rape are made victim by society blaming women for rapes

Now question arises whether prostitution is legal in India or not? When it comes to define legal aspects of prostitution, countries in the world are divided in three categories in which India is the country where prostitution is legal with certain limitations. 

In India there are some legal rights provided to prostitutes 

Prostitution is not strictly illegal in the Indian context as it is not specifically noted to be prosecutable, but under Immoral traffic prevention act, a few activities related to prostitution, such as attempting to run brothels, propositioning, smuggling, and prostituting, are all indictable offences in India. 

A person engaged in pimping or soliciting is punishable under law, but if a person receives money in return of sex with consent then it might not be illegal in India.

Laws and constraints of prostitution in India

  • Immoral trafficking Act 1956: Section 2 ( F) of Immoral traffic act 1956 defines prostitution as misuse or sexual exploitation of any person for business reasons. 
  • Section 372 and 373 of IPC 1860 also has connection with prostitution, but it is restricted to only child prostitution.
  • Section 366A, 366B, 370A of the IPC has provision of punhishment of those who are concerned with the crime to import a girl from foreign for exploitation and sex.

Why prostitution is carried out secretly even when it is legal?

ITPA Act 1956 is a piece of legislation that prohibits prostitution. This law makes it illegal to engage in certain prostitution-related activities. 

  • Section 3 of the ITPA act has arrangement of punishment for brothel
  • Section4 has provision for penalty of the person who earns with prostitution
  • Section 5 has provision to act a person who takes a persons to began prostitution
  • Section 6 punishes the person who drives a sex worker at the place where prostitution is carried on
  • Section 7 restricts the prostitution to be carried out in public places
  • Section 8 has the provision of punishment of sex worker who seduces or invites someone for the prostitution.

At the end

Prostitution has been in our society from a very long ago. There are many who want to pay for sexual pleasuer, and also there are too many who are willing to do sex for money.  There are far more advantages to regularising and legalising prostitution than there are to not legalising it. Prostitution has existed for centuries, and I don’t see it being removed or erased from society anytime soon. Our history and experience teach us that it will persist regardless of how stringent the rules are enacted.

How legalization of prostitition will be helpful for society and sex workers?

Accepting or denying the prostitution depends on our ethics. There are many countries who have legalized the prostitution. Here are some benefits of legalization of prostitution:

  • Trafficking will be reduced
  • Sex workers condition will improve
  • Reduction in rape cases
  • Number of minors involvement in prostitution will reduce
  • Sex workers will get the right to choose whom they want to provide their services
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