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Prostitution In India: The Staggering Numbers And The Stagnant Legality

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By Nupur Dogra:

Indian way to solve a problem:
First step: Recognize the problem
Second step: Never ending debates and deliberations.
Third step: Carve a midway solution to every possible challenge.
Fourth step: When these midway solutions turns disastrous.
Fifth Step: Turn a blind eye, problem solved.

Given above is the current scenario of prostitution in India.

Pimps are criminals, prostitutes are not.
Brothels are illegal, but prostitution is not.

According to our law, the work is legal without an office and a manager. Is it something in the Indian DNA? Or are we happy in adopting a cowardice solution to almost every challenge we face? Such is the case with prostitution in India. In India, prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money) is legal, but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning or managing a brothel, pimping and pandering are crimes. According to the current law the prostitutes can practice their trade privately. Every law by the government seems to be an effort to push these prostitutes to the boundaries of the society. These laws admit the presence of prostitutes in the society, but under the wraps i.e. 200 yards away from the public place or notified area. My logic completely fails here to understand why this hypocritical approach towards human beings who are equally a citizen to this country? Due to this midway policy of the government the prostitutes are stuck in between.

Yes, prostitution is a social evil, but we need to have a reality check to get rid of this. While doing so we need to understand, this is an ancient concept which has existed almost always. I can’t think of a time, a place or a country where it never existed. Currently, Prostitution in India is a Rs. 40,000 crore annual business. Nobody knows what use this money is put to. This black money further leads to a vicious circle of crimes and thus leads to irreparable damages to the society and economy. According to a survey, there are approximately 10 million sex workers in India out Of which 1, 00,000 are in Mumbai alone, Asia’s largest sex industry centre. There about 300,000 to 500,000 children in sex trade in India, among which Bangalore along with five cities together account for 80 % child prostitutes in the country. This is the extent to which prostitution is prevalent in India.

Another problem in our country is that we love making laws, but we never bother to implement them properly. And when these laws are unsuccessful we think of another law or amendment to that law. One such law is PITA. Major reason for failure of PITA is the strong collusion between ministers, law enforcement agencies and brothel owners. Sex workers are not protected under normal labor laws but they possess the right to rescue and rehabilitation if they desire. The question that remains is that how many sex workers are aware of proper procedures to claim rehabilitation and how many of them actually get rehabilitated if they claim for the same.

Coming to the probable solutions to this problem, fears of meeting the same fate as Victoria in Australia and Netherlands have kept India reluctant to legalize organized prostitution. The need of the hour is to construct the laws in such a manner that positives can be imbibed and negative can be surmounted.

But the question again arises that even if the existing law is changed will they be implemented properly or will they also meet same fate as PITA? What should we actually blame this to? Law, Improper Execution, or our Ignorance??

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  1. K L Angora

    Most Holy God bless u, I share a vision of my wife (a diplomat) who was lifted up in heaven on 2nd Jan 2014 stood in front of throne and God spoke to her in loud and furious voice that go on Earth back and tell the people that something Unique will happen on Earth in 2014 which never happened before. Save the people who wana be saved and leave the rest on their will. She did not share this vision except me to anyone because already many people told this kind of vision but God had mercy and gave more time to the world to be prepared for heaven and turn from sins. Many people are innocent on Earth because of them Lord gave time 2 Peter 3: 10-13. But this time He was not looking in the mood to give more time and Grace. So I wana share it with no discrimination of caste or religion, white or black, rich or poor, innocent or sinner, king or beggar. It is the Will of Lord Jesus Christ to tell the message of deliverance to everyone not any particular group of people. To the workers of Lord Jesus Christ, I request do it with the speed of racehorse not at the pace of snail or tortoise. Spend much money on big conventions, seminars not only on Sunday but 24×7 encourage each other and try to be philanthropists. Don’t hate anyone but give the message of God to everyone. If some1 lives near Kapurthala may go to village Khojewala Pastor also a doctor Harpreet Deol & Pastor Ankur Narula in Khambra Jallandhar Punjab (India) pray for salvation on Sunday morning otherwise find place near u. But don’t care the people around u what they do or say, seek the will of God for u. He will tell u what to do. KL Angora

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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