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Semantee Chattopadhyay
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Officially it is estimated that there are over 800,000 sex workers in India. However, official figures place these numbers far higher. With the covid-19 pandemic impacting the lives of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) HAS URGED THE GOVERNMENT TO RECOGNISE SEX WORKERS AS INFORMAL SECTOR WORKERS AND PROVIDE THEM ACCESS TO WELFARE BENEFITS. The advisory acknowledged that lockdown has led to a sudden loss of employment, particularly in the informal sector with no alternative sources of money food or shelter and it has disproportionately affected women who compromise a substantial proportion of such workers. The economic vulnerability of those involved in work that is already stigmatized, such as sex work has increased exponentially as the nature of sex work demand physical contact which is being avoided in covid-19 times. According to the IPC prostitution in its broader sense is not illegal per se but certain activities constitute a major part of prostitution and are punishable under certain provisions of the act:
1. Soliciting services of prostitution at public places.
2. Carrying out prostitution activities in hotels.
3. Being an owner of a brothel.
4. Pimping
5. Indulging in prostitution by arranging a sex worker.
6. Arrangement of a sexual act with a customer.
If prostitution is legalized in India there will be access to justice and law to the victims. There will be no middlemen and brothels would be licensed. There will be health clearance and checking of the spirit of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). There will be regularisation of wages and working conditions. Moreover, brothel income can also be taxed.
Prostitution is like approving the flesh trade. It will become beneficial for facilitators and the pimps. It will not set a good example for society. Prostitution wrecks personality and affects marriage relationships. Prostitution adversely affects family life and may bring social disorganization.