A word that carries a heavy stigma and taboo in Indian society. A profession
that is often looked down upon, but rarely talked about openly. Yet it exists,
thriving amidst the shadows of our cities and towns. In this post, we delve deep
into the unspoken truth behind prostitution in India. From its historical roots
to its current state, we explore the various factors that drive women towards
this profession and shed light on the harsh realities they face every day. Join
us as we unravel this complex issue and challenge our preconceived notions about
prostitution in India.
Introduction: Defining Prostitution In India
Prostitution is often considered taboo in India. It is illegal in many parts of
the country and not talked about publicly. However, there are believed to be
more than three million sex workers in India. Prostitution is defined as a
practice or trade in which sexual activity is performed for payment.
There are different types of prostitution in India:
- One type is street prostitution, which involves women or girls looking
for clients on the street or in public places. It is the most common and
visible form of prostitution in India.
- Another type is brothel-based prostitution, which involves women or
girls working in brothels. These women usually live and work in the brothel,
and customers come to the brothel to buy sexual services.
- The third type is domestic prostitution, which involves women or girls
who work outside the home. Clients usually contact these sex workers through
intermediaries who arrange meetings between them. Although prostitution is
illegal in India, there are many areas where it thrives.
For example, red-light districts are common in big cities like Mumbai and
Delhi. Prostituted women and girls can be found in these areas looking for
clients on the street or working in brothels. Online prostitution is also a
growing trend where clients can contact sex workers through websites or social
Historical Perspective On Prostitution In India
The historical perspective of prostitution in India is long and complex. There
is evidence of prostitution in some form from ancient times. The early Vedic
period mentions prostitutes known as ganikas who worked in temples and were
considered part of religious rituals. The epic period saw the appearance of
courtesans called nartas who were very experienced in the arts and often in
During the British Raj, prostitution became more visible with the arrival of
European soldiers and merchants. Women who worked as prostitutes were often from
lower castes or indigenous peoples. They were often forced into the profession
by economic circumstances or lured by promises of money and status.
The British colonial government did little to regulate prostitution and it grew
during the 19th and early 20th centuries. In independent India, prostitution is
still rampant even though it is illegal under Indian law. There are an estimated
three million sex workers in India, many forced into the profession through
poverty or coercion.
The issue of prostitution is a controversial issue in India and there is no
agreement on how to solve it. Some activists favour decriminalization, while
others call for stricter enforcement of existing laws. Regardless of the final
solution, it is clear that prostitution will be a reality in India for the
Unspoken Truths Behind Prostitution In India
In India, prostitution is often seen as a necessary evil. It is a way for women
to earn money to support their families, and it is also a way for men to release
their sexual desires without cheating on their wives. Although technically
illegal, it is widely allowed and even openly practised in many parts of the
There are many untold truths behind prostitution in India. One is that it is
often a way for young girls from poor families to escape poverty. Prostitution
allows them to earn money and support their families. Another unspoken truth is
that many women who enter prostitution do so out of desperation.
They may be escaping an abusive home life or trying to support their children
after leaving their spouse. Whatever the reason, prostitution is a reality in
India and affects millions of people every year. It is important to understand
the untold truths of this field to better help those involved.
The Current Laws, Policies And Practices Related To Prostitution In India
In India, most prostitutes are from lower castes or religious minorities, and
many are trafficked. There is no uniform prostitution law in India. Many state
laws prohibit various activities related to prostitution, such as shouting in
public, running brothels, and living off a prostitute's earnings.
The main federal law on prostitution is the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of
1956, which prohibits "keeping a brothel, managing a brothel, finding a brothel"
and living off the proceeds of prostitution. Violations can result in fines
and/or imprisonment of up to three years. However, this law is not consistently
enforced and does not cover human trafficking or child prostitution.
The Indian government has taken steps to combat human trafficking and child
prostitution, but these efforts have been largely ineffective. In 2006, the
government passed the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Protection and
Rehabilitation) Act, which criminalizes trafficking for any purpose, including
However, this law was not effectively implemented due to weak enforcement
mechanisms and ignorance of the police and judicial authorities. Moreover, there
is no specific legislation on child prostitution in India. Children in the sex
trade are usually treated as victims of human trafficking and placed in secure
custody or rehabilitation centres. However, these centres are often overcrowded
and under-resourced to provide long-term care or rehabilitation. As a result,
many children return to the street.
Pros And Cons Of Legalizing Prostitution In India
- Better working conditions:
Legalizing prostitution would allow sex workers to operate in a regulated
environment with access to basic rights such as health care and legal
protection. They could also negotiate fair prices and hours of operation
with customers without fear of police harassment.
- Reduced exploitation:
Legalizing prostitution would help reduce the exploitation of sex workers by
pimps and traffickers. Sex workers could work independently without fear of
violence or exploitation.
- Tax revenue:
Legalizing prostitution would create a new source of tax revenue for the
government. This income could be used to finance social programs, education
- Reduce sexually transmitted diseases:
Regulated prostitution can help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted
diseases, as sex workers would have access to regular medical check-ups and
use protective equipment.
- Objectification of women:
Legalizing prostitution would further objectify women, which is already a
major problem in Indian society. This would encourage the idea that women's
bodies can be bought and sold, perpetuating gender inequality and
- Human trafficking:
Legalizing prostitution could lead to an increase in human trafficking, as
sex traffickers could more easily operate under the cover of legal brothels.
That would exacerbate an already serious problem in India.
- Moral and religious objections:
Many Indians believe that prostitution is immoral and against religious
values. Legalizing it would be seen as condoning an activity that many find
- Stigma and discrimination:
Even if prostitution is legalized, sex workers are likely to still face
stigma and discrimination. Accepting sex work as a lawyer can take time,
which can negatively affect the mental health and well-being of sex workers.
The Impact Of Social Stigma On Prostitutes And Clients
Social stigma significantly affects prostitutes and clients in many ways.
Prostitutes and clients often face negative attitudes, discrimination and
marginalization due to the stigma associated with sex work.
Here are some ways social stigma affects them:
Possible Solutions For The Future
- Psychological effects:
The social stigma associated with sex work can lead to psychological effects
such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Prostitutes and clients
often face discrimination and negative attitudes from their family, friends
and society, which can lead to feelings of shame and guilt.
- Access to health care:
Social stigma can also affect the health care of prostitutes and clients.
For fear of discrimination and judgment from health care providers, they may
avoid seeking medical care even when they need it. This can lead to
untreated illnesses and health problems.
- Legal Consequences:
Prostitution is illegal in many countries and clients and prostitutes face
legal consequences if caught. The stigma associated with prostitution can
also affect legal processes, as sex workers often face prejudice from the
- Financial challenges:
Social stigma can also affect the financial opportunities of prostitutes and
clients. They may struggle to find steady employment, housing and other
basic needs, leading to financial difficulties.
- Social isolation:
Social stigma associated with sex work can lead to social isolation for
prostitutes and clients. They may feel removed from their community and may
struggle to maintain relationships with friends and family.
- Safety issues:
Social stigma can also affect the safety of prostitutes and clients. Due to
the illegal and stigmatized nature of sex work, they may be forced to work
in unsafe and unregulated environments, increasing their vulnerability to
violence and exploitation.
- Education and awareness campaigns can help reduce the stigma associated
with prostitution. This includes educating the public about the rights of
sex workers, dispelling myths and misconceptions about sex work, and
highlighting the negative effects of social stigma.
- Decriminalization and regulation:
Decriminalizing prostitution and regulating the industry can improve working
conditions for prostitutes and clients, reduce exploitation and trafficking,
and improve access to health care and law enforcement. Education and
- Support services:
Providing support services such as counselling, health care, legal aid and
financial assistance can help reduce the negative impact of social stigma on
prostitutes and clients. These services may be provided through
community-based organizations or government programs.
- Law reforms:
Law reforms that promote the rights and social welfare of prostitutes and
clients can help reduce the negative effects of social stigma. This includes
legalizing sex work, repealing laws that discriminate against sex workers,
and ensuring equal legal protection for sex workers.
- Cooperation and partnership:
Addressing the social stigma associated with prostitution requires
collaboration and partnership between governments, civil society
organizations, sex workers and clients. This includes involving sex workers
and clients in the decision-making process, providing them with a forum to
express their concerns and needs, and ensuring that their rights are
It can be argued that the social stigma associated with prostitution has
significant negative effects on the lives of prostitutes and clients. Addressing
this issue requires a holistic approach that includes legislative reforms,
education, support services and cooperation between all stakeholders.
By working together, we can create a fairer and more equal society where the
human rights and dignity of all industry participants are respected and
- Aarushi Sharma and
- Mridul Bhatia
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