There was this discussion quite a while back on the programme 'We The People' on Legalizing and De-criminalizing prostitution.To begin with I could not clearly understand the diff. between the two. Google came to my rescue and I now understand it as-
legalizing means regulating it with certain dos and don'ts while de-criminalizing means not binding the profession per se with specific laws relating only to their profession but they have to abide by all other laws as any of the citizens.
One panelist raised a question- if we legalize prostitution, then are we ok with a brothel in our neighbourhood just like other service providers such as doctor, tailor,chemist, beauty parlour, grocer...?
This set me thinking-
Can they -the brothels state their profession as 'commercial sex work' and apply for license, housing,commercial space, electricity meter?
Can a woman of this profession apply for jobs stating her experience in the field and will she get acceptance?
Can they apply for health insurance or group insurance as companies do- what will be the impact on the insurance sector?
Will the stigma just vanish with this move?
I was comparing this to the wine shops - there's a regulation that wine shops should not be opened near housing societies or schools and that they can only sell and not act as bars serving liquor. But the reality is totally different . I have a wine shop at my back yard- my housing society of 11 buildings is on the main road with 2 buildings facing the road and others inside. The said two buildings are partly commercial- housing shops on the ground floor and flats in the remaining floors. The one right behind my building has a wine shop so the rule 'not near residential areas' is violated. Moreover, the owner has made a partition of sorts with the cardboard cartons separating his shop from the others in the same line ( thank God for small mercies) and his clients are provided with plastic tumblers and they sit on the ground outside the shop and drink and when they've downed one too many, lie sprawled on the pavement conveniently. Very much a bar, sans a name board. I thought of writing to the authorities or to media but decided to be wiser than be foolhardy. It's obvious that he's thriving 'cos the powers that be are looking the other way resolutely.On the same floor, his neighbours are a hardware shop, a doctor,a grocer, a chemist and a shoe shop- but his is the only shop that is open with dedicated workers and clients as early as 7 a.m.
Will the world's oldest profession also operate the same way?
My sympathies are with those who are forced into this line. But what's the way forward?
In a place like India where jobs are hard to come by, how can these women be re habilitated and brought into the mainstream? Would I be comfortable engaging her as a maid or a nanny for my child (considering they are unskilled and don't have much of a choice to settle in other types of jobs) just as I won't be at peace engaging a criminal out of prison as my driver or office assistant even if he had turned over a new leaf?
The dance bars in Bombay were shut down one fine morning in one sweep by banning all dance bars, without any thought about how all those associated with such bars will find sustenance-not just the dance girls, but the bar owners, bouncers, servers... the clientele used to turning to these bars for relaxation and entertainment felt deprived and looked out for gratification in ...you guessed right- in commercial sex workers. Many of the dance girls tried to earn money through some other means but mostly turned to prostitution with not much choice. Now there is an idea of re-opening dance bars. Surprisingly Madhur Bhandarkar's movie 'Chandni Bar' portraying the sad state of nautch girls talked about this issue even before the dance bars got banned.
In the discussion on TV some one said' the act of prostitution per se won't be punished but if the woman had 'solicited' then she'll be booked' . Wah! what an idea! If she wasn't offering a service in return for money, there's no reason why she'd solicit in the first place right?