Flesh Trade or a matter of personal choice?

‘It exists, we all know, but legalizing prostitution?’

An ethical debate…
Broadly speaking, ‘ethics’ can be defined as that branch of philosophy which deals with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions. The question on legalizing prostitution is directly related to human conduct, and the question of its ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ has been asked time and again, raising serious ethical questions.One of the oldest ‘professions’ in the world and a practice which exists everywhere, yet in our country and in many others, ‘prostitution’ continues to be illegal, immoral.
The prostitution debate has been one-sided for many years, however, in the past few decades, there has been widespread support for its legalization.Although the general notions related to prostitution have always been negative, stereotypes are being broken and people are questioning why this age-old practice has not been accepted legally in our country. The sex-industry consists mainly of those who are willingly a part of it and those who are victims of trafficking and exploitation. The practice of ‘legalized prostitution’ affects both groups, whether negatively or positively, is a question which remains unanswered.

Legalizing prostitution… a positive step?“Selling is legal, and sex is legal, so why isn’t selling sex legal?” : George Carlin
People who advocate the legalization of prostitution often argue that a vast majority of people in the ‘sex-trade’ are there because they want to be there. It may be a means of sustenance to the financially troubled or it maybe simply a personal choice of those who ‘enjoy’ their profession and receive both income and personal satisfaction from it.While some sex-workers argue that they have no qualms about being in the trade, their ‘clients’ reveal that sometimes they need to visit sex-workers just as an outlet for their sexual frustration. In fact some physically unattractive men agree that they pay for sex because that is the only way they can get sex. There have also been suggestions that legalizing helps to maintain a record of all those involved and is also a way of upholding human rights of the sex-workers who can treat it as a profession rather than an illegal activity.Legalization also necessitates mandatory health check-ups for prostitutes and helps curb sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are distributed and various methods of birth-control are also advocated. It also has economic implications to it as well. In countries like Thailand and the Netherlands where it is legal, ‘sex-tourism’ is gaining popularity.

Dignifying prostitution does not dignify women, it dignifies the sex industry…What has been debated for years and years is the question whether ‘state-sponsored’ or ‘legal’ prostitution actually leads to a better life for the sex workers or does it make this ‘business’ more profitable and encourages exploitation of women to a greater extent. Even with so much stigma attached to the ‘sex-trade’ , it continues to thrive and middle-men continue to cheat women into losing their dignity. In the Netherlands, women in prostitution point out that legalization or decriminalization of the sex industry cannot erase the stigma of prostitution but instead, makes women more vulnerable to abuse because they must register and lose anonymity. In fact, legalizing prostitutions leads to ‘commodification’ of women, who are often sold in the ‘legal’ red-light areas to their so-called clients.

The sex-trafficking question…Sex-trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years. The prostitution debate may have ethical connotations, however, sex-trafficking is universally deemed ‘wrong’. The correlation which exists between the two often proves as an important argument for doing away with prostitution altogether. With young teenagers being forced into this trade, the situation needs serious attention.Summing up…Looking at both sides of the coin and analysing the issue the only solution seems to be ‘regulated’ legalization. The rights of those who are being forced into this should be protected at any cost, and those who themselves want to be a part of it should not be shunned. Governments should take steps to maintain the health of sex-workers and also treat the trade as any other rather than looking at it with the taboo that it has attached to it. It is a universal truth that prostitution has existed and will continue to exist, what needs to change is people’s attitude towards it.

Youth-speak“ I think prostitution has always had and will always have negative implications, there is no way it can ever be seen in positive light” – Anisha Jhawar , Bcom Hons. Student, Shri Ram College of Commerce
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“At the cost of sounding immoral, I think prostitution involves more of a personal choice. Who is the moral police to question people who are willingly doing it to support their lives” – Lalruatpuii Pachuau, Psychology Hons, Student, Kamla Nehru College
[email protected]“ I think we have come to accept it socially over the years. I know for sure that some of my friends regularly visit hookers. To legalize it would be a big step, but I don’t think it can ever be done away with” – Varun Garodia, BBM student, Christ College, Bangalore
[email protected]“No way, I don’t know on what basis can people raise such a question. Legalising prostitution is like saying its ok to sell women.” – Tanya L. Warjiri, English Hons. Student, Miranda House.
[email protected]“I think its good, because firstly the health issue is taken care of, and plus it makes life easier for prostitutes who anyway don’t lead a very normal life”- Deval Tibrewalla, Hotel Management Student, Ecole Hotelier, Laussane, Switzerland
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“It should be done because it wont stop even if its illegal. It cannot be fought”- Raghav Bowry, Engineering student, GHRCE, Nagpur.
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Vatsala Tibrewalla