Legalising Prostitution Will Help Curb Sex Crimes
It is one year past since the brutal gang rape of a medico was perpetrated in a Delhi bus. Lot of angry demonstrations against rapists were held continuously throughout the country. People from all walks of life were highly agitated by this heinous crime. People young and old, men and women, all took it to the streets. Parliament also enacted stricter law to curb such barbarious acts. First anniversary of this crime also drew the people to hold meetings, demonstrations & candle marches. Despite all this, there is no end to such type of tendency. Rather rape and gang-rape cases are on increase Newspapers are daily reporting such cases from every nook and cranny of the country. Even minor girls and kids are being made victims. It is obvious that the message of the saner people has not gone home to the sex-hunters.
There is no denying that the public anger is justified. Security and safety of women has to be ensured and the demand for deterrent laws is also a natural response, but we have to delve deeper into the causes of such crimes as rape, adultery, incest, molestation and immoral traffic of women. We have to consider the psychological, physiological, sociological and other wider parameters behind such acts.
Sex is the basic need of a person. Next to hunger, sex is regarded as the prime instinct of the mankind. To prevent outrageous and ugly manifestation of this hunger for sex, we have to tackle the problem with social perspective because no type of punishment however harsh can check such nefarious and inhuman acts. There is no doubt that laws should be made more stringent, police should be more vigilant and the process of justice delivery should be geared up.
But the question arises: Why do people indulge in such uncivilized and barbarian acts? The answer is simple, because they cannot satisfy their pent-up sexual urge in lawful and civilised manner.
The double moral standard of our society makes liberal allowances for men’s licentious indulgence; whereas any moral lapse on the part of women is regarded as unpardonably degrading. Such a condoning attitude towards men enables him to satisfy his pre-marital and extra-marital urges without losing his social place or dignity. But in a conventionally moral society like India, a person’s sexual needs can be rightly met only by public-women. So it is said that the prostitute guards the virtue of respectable women. She is also called the safety valve for relieving men’s extra passion. Thus prostitution can be termed a necessary evil.
The system of prostitution has been there with us since the dawn of civilisation, paradoxically enough, the civilisation that founded the noble institution of marriage also gave birth to the concomitant practice of prostitution.
Historically, prostitution has been an integral part of our civilization with persistent universality of time and place. It is said to be the world’s oldest profession in the sense that it has been found to exist with civilised men. The conditions of primitive life somehow or other rendered prostitution unnecessary. In primitive society there were occasions when sexual morality was thrown to winds. Although the marriage system was universally prevalent, there were fairs and festivals when the primitive men were given freedom to break all codes of morality.
As soon as we enter civilised conditions, we find prostitution flourishing in some form or the other. Professional promiscuity has been practiced under the patronage of religion, social custom and moral approval. Sacred or secular, open or clandestine, it has always found support in some quarter or other. Prostitution in India owes its origin to temple rituals. Under the religious belief only young girls were dedicated to the service of gods of temple. Naturally, consequences follow under the garb of religious worship and service to deities. This established a respectable tradition for the prostitutes known as “devdasis”. Prostitutes in India were treated with such respect that they were called “ganikas” and “nagar vadhus”, and they were entitled to a seat in the royal assembly. People in high position used to send their children to these women to learn manners and etiquette. The bordellos were bubbling with joy and jest. They nurtured music, dance and poetry recitation. They were haunts of culture. But as time passed by their position in society also declined, and today they are regarded as scum of society. And their customers visit them in clandestine manner with fear of law in their minds.
If a comprehensive law is enacted to grant legal right to sex-workers, they will feel free from the clutches of police and anti-social elements. Their health will be looked after better and their children will be taken care of. Law to legalise prostitution will also help in their proper rehabilitation and physical well-being. They will not be branded purveyors of diseases related to sex.
It is a known fact that in such countries, where prostitution is legal, the rate of sex crimes is quite negligible. It is, therefore, call of the time that proper law should be framed towards this end. The Supreme Court also had some time back opined that sex-workers should be provided congenial environment to carry out their profession with dignity. It had also constituted a committee comprising some senior lawyers and social activists to study the various problems being faced by sex-workers and to suggest steps to guard their fundamental rights. Earlier also the apex court had commented that granting legal recognition to prostitution would be a better alternative to check immoral traffic of women.
It is, therefore, high time the government gave a serious thought to the viewpoint of the highest court of our country and take steps to enact a legislation to legalise prostitution to enable sex-workers to carry out their trade without hindrance and serve their customers in a peaceful way.
This way it will also become easier to bring them in the mainstream of society. Several social scientists are of the view that this step will bring down the crime rate particularly the rape offences. It will also put a stop to sex scandals and affairs.
By MR Singhvi