The other day, I was having a discussion with my friend over the idea of sex in our films. From hiding behind flowers to immediately sprouting babies after marriage, it was the easiest way of depicting love-making in Bollywood. Now, with the advent of globalisation, we get to see a lot of international movies that feature kissing scenes and lately, our Bollywood having taken inspiration from them, isn’t shying away from portraying the co-stars kissing too.
The cinema has evolved, so has the realistic portrayal of sex. Movies like 50 Shades of Grey or Mastizaade and Masti Express are increasingly using the idea of sex to earn well, and they manage to achieve the goal. Who cares about a good plot anyway, right?
However, why do we get so worked up when it comes to using sex as a transaction for a better living? When sex can be used to gain more audience for a movie, why can’t it be used to attain a roof over one’s head or to fund the education?
‘Prostitution’ or ‘selling of bodies’, if happening forcefully, is a gross violation of human rights, and the people getting impacted by it should be provided help, rescue, protection, rehabilitation and more importantly, the dignity. Stories of kids getting kidnapped or parents selling their own daughters as sex slaves are not unheard of; it shreds our heart and makes us question the humanity in our species. However, with all the rescuing and saving, there are some women who go into the discussed field with their sole intention. Now, do we need to rescue them too?
The debate involving legalisation of prostitution or of accepting sexual transaction as a job, is indeed a huge debacle, raging on between “human rights” and “freedom of choice”. There are women who tend to work as high-end escorts and make good money, which helps them to pay their bills, educate their children and ensure a livelihood that doesn’t allow them to go to bed hungry.
I guess, for many who indulge into the sexual trade willingly, for them, it’s just a job, one that pays really well and helps sustain their higher aspirations for a better life. Women, men and people of the third gender, who take up the sex trade is because it still allows them to lead an independent life. For such people, the only saving that they need is from the threat of persecution and randomly being thrown into jail; because, even though the law does not technically criminalise prostitution, it’s all too easy to book them for soliciting clients, public indecency, public nuisance and other vague charges. What they need is access to decent medical care without discrimination, or without getting rid of their dignity.
However, the question that strikes me is, whether decriminalising sexual transaction will finally give a breather to women who are battling their lives taking refuge in the discussed sector? Or will it facilitate filtration of hardened criminals into the world of sex trade, which still is a grey area of the society, juggling within the hands of sex traders, police and the concerned authorities?
Undeniably, it makes us uncomfortable to think that sex work could be a matter of choice, an effective means to an end. There is an element of moral panic to accepting that sex can be transactional, just like the exchange of any service for money, between a willing professional and their client.
Sex will always remain a taboo, even while discussing it or accepting it as a job. The only time it is not a taboo is behind closed doors, while attaining the services they refute, or by raping the partner or by secretly watching the never-ending stash of porn possessed.