Prostitutes, Prostitution and Prostitution Laws in India

Think of a day when you wake up and look into the mirror, trying to look for the purpose of your existence, your identity, you know what you are, yet you try collecting every other thing that can mark your importance. Then it strikes to you, that your identity has become a corpse. You have been discarded from the group of persons holding the status of a person. To the society, you are no more respectable or someone to show gratitude for. You are alive with a dead inner self.  You have been used again and again by others for their personal pleasure.  You have become an aphrodisiac.  Living yet dead, busy yet idle, crowded yet alone. Yet you confront it, live with it, every day – every night; because this is how you can make both ends meet. Knowingly or unknowingly you are stuck in a vicious circle about which all you know is that IT GOES ON!

“Stolen people, stolen dreams.”

This is the story of every girl, every woman, every lady who is brought into this business of prostitution, to satisfy the greed of some men, whose lust for sex and money never ends.

Prostitution means the sexual exploitation or abuse of person for commercial purposes and the expression prostitute shall be construed accordingly.  It is one of the oldest and prevalent trades in India.

Prostitution is illegal in India and legal consequences can entail a prosecution, which may culminate in an imprisonment of up to 7 years. Although several debates on its legalisation are ongoing since time immemorial because due to its illegal status women who have entered this trade find it very hard to report abuse, which is very common.

Prostitution and related acts are governed by the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act 1956, the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, 1956, The statute primarily deals with sex-work in India and does not penalise prostitution or prostitutes per se. Although the act gives the power to punish acts by third parties facilitating prostitution like brothel keeping, living off earnings and procuring, even where sex-work is not coerced.

Section 372 and 373 of the Indian Penal Code, also directly deal with prostitution.

Section 372 of the Indian Penal Code: Selling minor for the purposes of prostitution, etc.: Whoever sells, lets to hire, or otherwise disposes of any person under the age of eighteen years with intent that such person shall at any age be used or employed for the purpose of prostitution or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, or knowing it to be likely that such person will at any age be employed or used for any such purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall be liable to fine.

Section 373 of the Indian Penal Code: Buying minor for purpose of prostitution, etc. : Whoever buys, hires or otherwise obtains possession of any person under the age of eighteen years with the intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful or immoral purpose, of knowing it to be likely that such person will at any age be employed or used for any purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

According to an estimate, there are around 2.8 million prostitutes in India living a life no less than dead. As if they are not women but a mere sex toy.

“Call a jack a jack, call a spade a spade. But always call a whore a lady.”[1]

[1]Patrick Rothfuss


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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AISHWARYA HIMANSHU SINGH

Aishwarya Himanshu Singh is a final year law student. An aspiring researcher who has a deep love for writing. With her first publication at the age of 13, she believes a pen is mightier than the sword. Having authored more than 50 papers she is all set for the ‘writing for a change’ programme.

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