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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Prostitution: should the laws be changed?
In India it is not illegal to have sex for money. But the law does prohibit certain activities connected with the trade such as pimping, trafficking, brothel keeping and soliciting for sex.
Changes to present legislation allowing prostitution to be recognised as legitimate work are now being considered. Those in favour hope this will help improve working conditions for women.
But recent protests in Delhi have shown opposition to relaxing these laws. Many sex workers point out that few of them enter the sex trade voluntarily and they fear that relaxing the laws would not benefit them, but lead to greater exploitation and abuse.
Would it encourage safer and healthier working conditions? Would the scale of the sex industry increase dramatically as a result of changes in the laws? Tell us what you think.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
This is probably one of the saddest commentaries I have ever read. It makes me want to weep openly to see our morality go down to such a depraved level. I wonder what some of the people who are proponents of "legalising" prostitution would feel if they went into a brothel or on the street and saw their daughter or sister or any close female relative selling their bodies for money? If someone commits an illegal act because they are sexually frustrated, then they should seek professional help because self control is one of the characteristics that makes us human.
Take the example of the Netherlands. The result of legalising prostitution is more security and rights for sex workers. In India women are humiliated if they are raped. If you legalise it, you can control it. If you have a repressive regime, you only push it underground as proven in Afghanistan.
Rustam Roy, England
Women are not a commodity to be sold on the market. By legalising prostitution we encourage menfolk to treat them as objects. Find out why some women choose prostitution as their profession and if it is due to poverty try to put an end to their misery.
Sex workers are a group of "sick people" who need proper medical treatment and rehabilitation. "Legalisation" is an invalid term as it leads to more people being 'addicted' to the profession and inflicted with physical harm. How can a society pave the way of Aids to run freely through its highway?
Mo Ahmed, San Clemente, CA, USA
Years of banning prostitution has not stopped the practice and is extremely unlikely to do so. India should adopt a policy like the Netherlands. Have an area designated as the red light district in every town. The government could tax any people who work in the industry and use that money to conduct regular tests on the prostitutes.
To all those who prefer legitimising prostitution.
If it is legalised, will you let your sister or daughter or wife to "practise" this trade?
A.J. Lee, Canada
Prostitution laws should be toughened, making it more difficult for new 'employees'. The current laws should be reformed to help only the ones already in the trade. I don't my daughter to come to me and say she wants to grow up to be a prostitute.
Are you people SERIOUS? I cannot believe what I'm reading! 'Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world"? You call prostitution a profession? Prostitution is the oldest CRIME in the world more like.
In fact murder has been going on before prostitution so murder is the oldest crime in the world, but does that mean we stop combating murder?
What sex workers actually need is better living conditions and access to medical help. The so-called 'shelf life' of these women does not last beyond 10 years after which they end up as destitute on city streets. What we need for them is perhaps access to vocational training and education.
I don't see any problem in legalising prostitution. The women get employment and the men get pleasure; no harm is done. However, I am Nepalese and what bothers me is that thousands of innocent, poor girls who are as young as 9, 10, and 11 are lured deceitfully and sold to Indian brothels. These helpless children are tortured and forced to shed their virginity against their will. They are robbed of their youth and life. Harsh laws against anyone involved in selling and buying young children and women should be passed and enforced immediately.
If we look at the background of women in the sex industry most of them have turned to this business due to intolerable overwhelming poverty.
No woman in India wants to select this as their profession unless in a threatened situation created by sex industry brokers.
Sonny Azhaki, UK
Prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world and there would be so many problems if it did not exist. Let's recognise it as a legitimate profession, set some health standards, educate them, license them..
The root cause of trafficking in women is the stupid industrial licensing policy. Industrial centres are far away from the population centres of UP and Bihar. Labourers who leave their villages cannot afford to take their families with them. This provides a ready market for prostitutes, which the underworld supplies.
This is outrageous. I shudder to even think of such a law in India as crooks will definitely exploit it. To say that it would help working women is a cruel joke.
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