Can sexual violence against all women be stopped if we legalize prostitution and work our way up from the most socially discriminated class?

How would you answer this question by R.
Hi IHM

I was recently having a discussion with my friend about the possible solutions to prevent sexual assaults against women in India. He said the only solution is to legalize prostitution in India. I was appalled and angry not because I have anything against sex workers, they are women too and they get assaulted as well, but I did not see how it would help prevent assaults against all women. At first seemed more to me like hey…let’s redirect the perverts and abusers towards sex workers and give them protection and it’ll keep the rest of the women safe.

He says legalizing and giving protection to prostitutes and working on socially biased segments first will send a social message and stop sexual violence against all other women too, but I just do not get it. He says if social, economic and professionally biased society (mainly prostitutes) get security, there is a message that its not easy to commit a crime and get away with it. He says start institutionalizing from rock bottom and work your way to other classes. Why can’t the class be “women” rather than just one sub class like prostitutes or engineers?

I wanted to ask your opinion on what my friend said. Is my pea brain just not getting the bigger picture? Can sexual violence against all women be stopped if we legalize prostitution and work our way up from the most socially discriminated class?

Thank you !

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48 thoughts on “Can sexual violence against all women be stopped if we legalize prostitution and work our way up from the most socially discriminated class?

  1. That would work only if sexual violence were about sex. It isn’t. Sexual violence is about misogyny and power struggle, nothing else. The only way to end – or even curtail – sexual violence is to end, or at least curtail misogyny. I don’t see how his plan would address that issue.

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    • SO true! rape isn’t about sex, it’s about hatred and power.
      Until the men stop thinking of women as beings lesser than men, nothing will change. Legalizing sex workers alone will only drive that impression more into their minds.

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  2. Not necessarily.. While legalizing prostitution AND giving them protection will help to some extent, it will be little in case security to women in general. You see men will still act perverse when visiting prostitutes, still beat them while in the act of sex (because you will have guard outside the rooms and not inside them) and so on.

    Also the key point is that sexual violence is not about just sex.. It is about the idea of feeling in control, of exerting power (over women).. While men may visit prostitutes, but every time they see a woman do things like wear jeans, or dance, or speak her mind (i.e. just be a normal human being but according to their minds will be stepping out of the so called line) they will feel the urge to put her in her place which results in sexual violence..

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  3. I’m a bit confused on this one too, but here’s what I’ve understood. One of the arguments for legalising prostitution is that people who choose to do sex work – men or women – should not be penalised. It should be their free choice to make a living this way. Making sex work just another occupation would give sex workers the standing they lack and would ‘normalise’ this activity. It would also allow sex workers to get the benefits that other workers get including a safe working environment. All this would help reduce discrimination and assaults.

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    • I know, but the thing is that legalising prostitution makes it incredibly difficult to seperate voluntary prostitution from involuntary. From what I understand in India there are thousands of trafficked women from Nepal and from poorer villages who are forced to work in brothels. Of course they dont want to be there. Legalising prostitution would just harm them as the police and people would assume k they chose this life. At least that’s what I understand.

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  4. Hi,
    I have heard about this proposal before. This idea is based on the assumption that all crimes against women are perpetuated for sexual reason. THIS ASSUMPTION is nothing but PLAIN WRONG.
    There are a myriad of reasons why such crimes happen. And in India, PATRIARCHY and CASTE ORDER are the main reasons. The interesting thing is prostitution is a byproduct of patriarchy ( like slave trading).
    Men who sees prostitutes in glass cages in Western Europe say, they actually want to do this profession. However, its not true. These women are trapped into this system from a very young age and often from very poor background or broken families. So we have an example of institutionalized prostitution(Europe) where what we actually see is modern flesh(slave) trade.
    Sweden is an exception though where prostitution is illegal and the men (clients of a prostitute) are fined and arrested by the police.
    So IMO, institutionalizing prostitution will not solve any crimes. It is an age-old patriarchal order. So we as a society should help sex workers get out their vicious traps.

    So what other alternatives do we have?
    Educate men from a young age that GROPING and EVE-TEASING etc is a crime. Teach them that if women do reject their advances, take it and move on ( that throwing ACID is a heinous crime).
    As a society try to invest in the well being and protection of women. And one thing that will be cumulative is law enforcement. Making the law is not enough, but if the law follows the culprit through, it will have an impact.
    So R, unfortunately your friend and all of Indian males have to acknowledge that unless they change, no change will be brought about in the end.
    Bottom line: The solution is elsewhere, not in prostitution.

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    • Please read the following post from Sunita Krishnan who works among sex workers.
      SHOULD PROSTITUTION BE LEGALISED? SHOULD SLAVERY BE LEGITIMISED…
      You must have heard…
      ‘PROSTITUTION IS THE OLDEST PROFESSION’
      ‘PROSTITUTION PROTECTS ‘GOOD’ WOMEN AGAINST RAPE’
      ‘MEN NEED TO RELEASE TENSION’
      ‘MALE BIOLOGY IS DIFFERENT FROM FEMALE BIOLOGY AND REQUIRES MULTIPLE WOMEN FOR SEXUAL SATISFACTION’
      ‘IF PROSTITUTION IS DECRIMINALISED THEN PROSTITUTED WOMEN WILL BE SAFER HEALTH WISE’
      ‘WOMEN CONSIDER PROSTITUTION AS LEGITIMATE WORK’
      ‘PROSTITUTION IS EASY MONEY’
      ‘HIV/AIDS CAN BE EFFECTIVELY FOUGHT IF PROSTITUTION IS DECRIMINALISED’
      ‘CONDOM PROMOTION AND SAFE SEX PRACTICES WILL MAKE PROSTITUTION SAFER’

      Well we hear these things on a regular basis…by some who claim to know it all and a majority of others who have absolutely no clue what they are talking but would like to parrot what others say as they consider it as a dominant view point. But what is the reality.
      Is prostitution which is also called by many “sex work” a choice of millions of women and children… who think this is a legitimate option? Is it exciting and glamorous offering easy money and wealth?
      Is prostitution a deterrent to sexual crimes such as rape?
      Well maybe facts can speak for themselves…

      SOME FACTS
      • After prostitution was legalized in Netherlands it is estimated that between 1996 and 2001 the number of children in prostitution increased by over 300% going from 4000 to 15000 and that 5000 of these children were trafficked from other countries.
      • Not a single country across the world where prostitution is legalized have reported even a marginal decrease in crime against women or children
      • Most studies across the world with prostituted women indicates a high percentage of physical injuries/abuses and psychological disorders ranging from verbal abuses, traumatic brain injuries(TBI), post traumatic stress disorders(PTSD) and mood disorders.
      • Following legalization of prostitution in Victoria, Australia although the number of legal brothels doubled the greatest expansion was in illegal prostitution and in 1 year(1999) there was a 300% growth of illegal brothels(Sullivan and Jefferys,2001)
      • Most studies show that prostituted women did not choose prostitution among a range of options such as medicine, law, teaching, nursing or politics. Their “options” were more in the realm of survival for themselves and their children.
      • Over 70% prostituted women and children across the world were initiated into prostitution when they were less than 14yrs of age.
      • Not a single prostituted person can control any transaction in prostitution. The person must do what the buyer wants to do. Research across the world shows that most women in prostitution report being subjected to acts that include burns with cigarettes, slashes with blades, being tied to bedposts, bodily mutilated, gang rape, sadism and various forms of sado machoism.
      • Most prostituted women and children have little or no bargaining power on condom usage. Reports from across the world indicates that men would not hesitate to pay more for sex without condoms.
      • More than 50% of prostituted women in countries were prostitution is legalized reported in a study that they do not think legal prostitution made them any safer from rape and physical assault( Farley et al.,2003)
      • As an exploitative industry prostitution is controlled by the procurer, pimp, broker and madams where the prostituted women has little or no stake in her earnings. Most studies report in the first 3yrs of prostitution the person is in a debt trap paying up for the cost of her procurement.
      • Most prostituted persons are subjected to repeated abortions, substance abuse, alcohol addiction, recurrent STI and RTI and vulnerability of being physically and psychologically assaulted.
      • HIV/AIDS, STD’s, Cervical Cancer, TBI(traumatic brain injury) and all forms of psychological disorders are the various health issues that can effect most prostituted persons.
      • Discussion with over 500 prostituted persons revealed that customers would always prefer different kinds of sexual services such as anal or oral intercourse which a prostituted person may or may not like. With limited time frame most acts of sex would be violent and rarely the consent of the person was sought regarding the act.

      How is it possible to protect the health of someone whose “job” means that they will get raped on an average once a day?
      How can something that is dehumanizing and violating become a dignified choice?
      How can male violence be legitimized?
      Does any of the above said appeal to us if our own daughter or sister made a choice to become a prostituted person.
      So how does something that is so distasteful for majority of us,be supported and sanctioned, all because we are too preoccupied to collectively work towards dignified options and our afraid to address the male demand?
      Can we be party to legitimize sexual slavery?

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  5. Sexual violence is rarely about sex and more to do with power.

    Arguments like these assume if sexual urge is satisfied, then men wouldn’t rape. So married men / men with partners don’t rape??

    If sex work legalization is to be discussed, I think the focus ought to be on better conditions for the women/men in this profession.

    If the sex -work is illegal, then better model is countries like Sweden, where buying sex is a crime and not selling sex.

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  6. Prostitution they say is the oldest profession,that in itself can be a huge topic of debate and discussion but it is a fact that paid sex has existed in almost all societies,whether it is legalised or not and the payment has also not always been in monetary terms.
    Sexual violence can not be diluted by saying lets pay a few men/women for sex,ensure their health safety,create ghettos for them and presume that it is a small price to pay for general sexual safety.
    Violence if the sexual nature is more about POWER and there is no guarantee that sexually satisfied men(presumably)would not attack women for other reasons like thwarted love,plain jealousy,family rivalry or to”show them their place.”

    Can we then later allow paid stabbing and strangulating to save the majority of us from murderers?

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  7. IMO only 2 things will stop this in FUTURE .
    1. Educating our youth/kids and next generation on treatment of women, personal boundaries, self control and just plain RESPECT for human beings.
    2. Strong messages sent by the administration and showing their low tolerence ( basically treating every peron male or female as an equal citizen and not just on paper )

    basically a change in Mindset. This is not impossible atleast not if every single parent adheres to this and teaches. ( but then we have some moms and dads who should have absolutely not had kids .. what to do with them? )

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  8. Legalizing prostitution is more to benefit the prostitutes than anyone else. They can get safer working conditions since they don’t need to hide out in shady places anymore, they can report more crimes against them to the police, and they will face less harassment from the police themselves.

    Prostitution will always exist. It’s the least we can do to keep them safe. As it is, it’s a dangerous profession. Our laws and police make it even worse for them.

    As for the effects on sexual violence…don’t know. It might have a minor effect at least for those crimes that are purely sexual in nature. But I can’t say.

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  9. Why do people ignore a simple point that molesting, forced sex, discrimination, violence and isolation are daily routine of sexual workers. They are the majority victims of sexual assault. Sexual violence is not always about power, domination or any other issues that are the part of most of the platonic/matrimonial relationships. Sexual violence happens because the criminals feel they can get away with it. When you address the most vulnerable sections of the society where sexual assault is common…… And by the way what are the chances that a prostitute can go and register a complaint on sexual offense?? Hence legalize prostitution. Everything that is immoral cannot be illegal. Illegal is societal. Immoral is personal (or for religious people a religious perspective)

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  10. “Can sexual violence against all women be stopped if we legalize prostitution and work our way up from the most socially discriminated class?”
    I’m no expert, but I would venture a no.
    Like other commentators said, sexual violence against women need not always be about ‘taking’ sex from in the victim.
    The important thing to remember is that sexual violence is a crime. Hence, measures to reduce all crime -like better trained police, and a fair and quick justice system would be the first step. Also, they constitute the only crimes where victim gets blamed more than the perpetrator- THAT needs to change.
    A crime-free society is a myth. What we can do is create a society that deals with this crime in a just and appropriate manner.

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  11. It’s definitely a radical (potential) solution and I have not read all the comments before mine, so I apologize in advance for and redundancy. I think this might be a solution if the intent behind sexual assaults is purely (excuse my absolute brutal honesty) a lack of available sex.
    But more often than not, that is not the case. It’s stupid things like ‘she deserves to be raped because…’ , and that, in my opinion is not something legalizing prostitution will help. (If I understood correctly what your friend was proposing- I’ll admit, I needed to read it a few times!)

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot specially in the light of all the debates in the US about the right to bear arms, Gun laws and all that good stuff. I have to say I think a potential solution in India, is to legalize the possession of firearms (of a reasonable size and stature), without needing a license.. It may sound extreme, and stupid even, but I really think that mere knowledge that a woman owns and is possibly trained to use a concealed weapon, is enough to reduce sexual offense.

    One may argue, that when it actually comes down to it, a woman may or may not have the mental strength to actually shoot a person. But, provoke a mother, and you will know that’s false. And any attacker in their right mind (as much of a right mind an attacker can be in), will not dare test that thought. Also, this is where training comes in – shooting with the intent of self defense (in the leg, in the arm) and not killing the attacker (bullet through the brain or heart).

    I also understand that legalizing something of this nature in our country comes with a fair share of new problems, but the constitution was written long back, when times were different and even safer. I think it’s time for an amendment.

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    • I agree with the first half of your comment, not the part about guns. Those guns will end up un the wrong hands – not in the hands of women and men who want to protect themselves but in the hands of rapists, eve-teasers, and hooligans. We have enough lawlessness in the country, enough bombings, stabbings, burnings – we don’t need the free availability of automatic weapons.
      Even in the US, guns are a huge problem. Even with trained police and better laws and justice system, they cause such havoc, because they always end up in the wrong hands.

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      • Yes, which is why there is a whole debate going on just now about revising the amendment. I had a tough time myself finding my stance on the whole gun situation. But what I have finally come to believe is that the weapon isn’t evil, the person behind it is. So yes, a clay pot can be transformed into a vicious means of killing someone depending on WHO is operating it.

        Still, like I said “legalizing something of this nature in our country comes with a fair share of new problems” which is exactly what you said about the hooligans and wrong hands, rapists etc..

        Free availability of automatic weapons, is indeed a double edged sword. I still believe that the simple knowledge or possession of the weapon AND the training to use it correctly, can fend off said hooligans and rapists.

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    • India has some of the toughest firearm ownership laws in the world. The history of this is very instructive. The near prohibition on firearms in India can be traced back to the Arms Act of Lord Lytton.

      The first act of a repressive government is to disarm the people.The British didn’t want another 1857. In 1950, the Queen handed over power to a new dynasty in India. Like the British rulers that preceded them, the dynasty had no incentive either to have an empowered population. Hence, the ban on weapons, ban on free enterprise, ban on profits, ban on economic growth that lasted till 1991. The bans were relaxed somewhat in 1991, but not nearly enough.

      A gun gives a sense of liberty, of self sufficiency. Why would a mai-baap sarkar want that?

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      • Hello Mr. Alex Jones. Good that you read some History but sad that u missed the fact India’s freedom struggle was mostly “Non-violent”. We have many issues to deal with… and shooting each other probably is not what we ‘re looking at as an answer.

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        • Abhishek’s comment makes perfect sense actually, this is the exact argument being made in the US. I’ve lived there for a 4 years and can tell you that’s true (esp if you were in Texas like me).

          India’s freedom struggle was non-violent only in the twilight years. What about the sepoy mutiny, or Bose, or the many other warriors?

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      • omg Abhishek are you for real. A gun DOES NOT give a sense of self-sufficiency. or at least the feeling of self sufficiency is outweighed by the knowledge that very dangerous criminals have LEGAL access to those guns.
        I mean have you seen America? Hardly the country we’d want to emulate in the case of school shootings.

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  12. One thing legalizing prostitution can do is provide safety for both the prostitutes and the people who seek their services. Legalizing prostitution would mean educating the prostitutes about safe sex, regular check ups for STD to maintain license and reduced harassment from the police. It would provide a safe outlet for people to avail this service in a country where sex is a taboo. But illegal prostitution already exists in plenty, and yet we see the violence in plenty. If all else fails, there is still masturbation as an outlet.

    Both men and women are sexually oppressed and frustrated. Yet, we see that most of the sexual violence and aggression is directed towards women. This means that there is something more to the violence than just repressed sex. It is a power thing, it is a reflection of the position women have in society.

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  13. I have a problem with prostitution in general because very often it is not the woman’s choice; she is either born into a family of courtesans where she and none of her ancestors had a choice. Or she has been sold into the profession. Historically, the prostitute class was created so that men could classify women into good (wives) and bad (prostitutes). Prostitutes could sing and dance, dress as they please, and have sex with pleasure and involvement, while ‘good wives’ were not allowed those things. However, ironically, all of the freedoms the prostitute enjoyed had the sole purpose of pleasing men, not pleasing herself. Prostitution is thus patriarchy at it’s worst.

    I agree with others here that legalizing prostitution may ensure better rights and living conditions for the prostitutes themselves – which is a good thing since they are one of the most oppressed classes – but may do little to bring down crimes against women in general. Along with protecting the human rights of prostitutes, ideally they must be given education, skills, and opportunities to find other means of survival if they wish to pursue alternatives. Because very often it is for survival that they continue doing it.

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    • I have to disagree here. A lot of the prostitutes in the west are doing so because they earn good money with fewer hours. It is a choice they make. Many a students have put themselves through college by doing this.

      Most of us work for a living. And a lot of the times, the work can be boring. We dont do it for our pleasure per se. It is to make a living. How is prostitution any different from the other careers?

      What is patriarchal is the fact that only men had access to prostitutes and that the prostitutes were not given a chance by society to integrate into the “normal” strata. They could not get married or have a traditional family life. Their kids were also forced into the same profession. There was no choice.

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        • Why dont you realize something that’s so simple?? When you legalize and regularize the institution, a women can go and complain about “Forcing her into prostitution”. Right???

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        • Yes, in the West, women may choose to do prostitution. The LW was talking about the situation in India. In India, it is largely forced. Also another reason is that women in India do it for purely survival reasons because they are not allowed any other means of survival by our society. I’m not judging Western or Indian women, just making an observation about facts. I personally dislike prostitution in India because it’s not the woman’s choice and it’s a highly oppressed class – prostitutes are used by everyone including police, politicians, any 2 bit guy with power, many are beaten, abused. Even though I find this oppression and lack of choice despicable, it exists and I do agree that legalizing it gives them an avenue to fight for their rights.

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  14. It’s sad that most of the people continue to see prostitutes anti-social, not as a part of society. In India prostitution is illegal and unregulated, but still we have largest number of prostitutes as estimated on 2007 nearly 3000000 of India’s total population. That is about 120 women for every 10000 women. And the probability of these women facing sexual violence is almost every day as they are the vulnerable targets. Legalizing and regulating prostitution gives sex workers freedom to approach police if they were forced in to sex. It’s not the for this “Male dominating” chauvinistic society to decide what a women wants to do. She can be a sex worker and then go on to become a governor of the state.

    The major problem is not just rape or sexual assaults alone. We are desperate to “prevent” or “reduce” rape, but what about the “rape victims”. The mental trauma that a rape victim has to go through in India is appalling. Rape should not be the end of everything. Despite all security measures and reformations rapes tend to happen. I really hope a Tsunami of knowledge wash away narrow minded nincompoops in India who see marriage of rape victim to the rapists as a social justice.

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  15. I don’t accept that r@pe is all about power. There are many men who rape children. How can a grown-up man feel powerful by r@ping a child of age 5 or 6? If it is about humiliating that child, that is also wrong. Because the child don’t know what is it in the first place. So, there is something else other than power that these r@pist seeking.

    And I don’t agree that legalizing the prostitution completely solve the problem either. Because, in Amsterdam prostitution is legal both selling and buying. But, I don’t think so, no r@pes happening there.

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  16. Legalizing prostitution is a double edged sword. While on one hand it will provided legal protection to women who are sex workers and help them in getting their much deserved rights, it will also legally concertize the patriarchal belief that a woman’s job is to satisfy a man’s need and that a woman is just a sex object.

    Your friend’s argument is pretty interesting. By legalizing prostitution he is not trying to divert the frustrated men to attack and prey on a certain section of women. On the contrary he believes that by legally recognizing prostitution one will enable women to stand up against abuse, even those women who are believed to be ‘sexual and moral deviants’.

    While people seems skeptical that woman do not choose this profession and are instead pushed into it, and are largely correct in believing so, legalizing prostitution does not mean legalizing sex trade. This means that while a sex worker wouldn’t be harassed by the law and its enforcers, those dragging women and minors into sex trade would still be punished. Its quite like marriage. Not every woman accepts the person she is marrying, for instance minors, but that doesn’t mean that since marriage is a legally sanctified institution people who force the woman to marry, or abuse her cannot be taken to task.

    Having said that, reducing abuse, violence and discrimination against women cannot and will not be reduced by legalizing prostitution. The change will come about only with drastic overhauling of our society. Every man AND woman, girl AND boy needs to be educated AND shown how to respect women, and not just as their daughters, wives, sisters and mothers but as individuals. Individuals with their own aspirations, needs and desires and not just tools for your satisfaction.
    Laws and societal norms need to be re-written for that. And we, not policepersons and politicians, have to be the vehicles of change!

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    • Isn’t woman already considered as someone to provide sex and be a vehicle for continuing a man’s family in our arranged marriages?? Legalising might have its own problems, but that itself being a reason for a woman to satisfy a man’s needs is not true.

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  17. Legalising prostitution would be a good move. At the very least, it would pave the way for prostitution to be recognised as a legitimate profession, with the same basic legal rights accorded to prostitutes as in any other profession (right to dignity, security, etc.). As an Edinburgh University study in 2004 argued (arguing against Sweden’s move to illegalise prostitution), it can also help reduce illegal trafficking, by regulating voluntary practice, bringing it remedial mechanisms of victims of abuse and making it more likely for patrons to be whistle blowers in case they suspect exploitation/abuse.

    Whether would actually help reduce sexual crimes is debatable. To iterate the point some commenter overlooked, Sweden actually experienced a drastic rise in rapes which followed the ban on prostitution in 2004. Not to mention, the law didn’t do anything to actually curb prostitution, it simply relegated prostitution to a more clandestine activity and raised the economic bar on who could ‘access’ this market (as is the case in India). While the correlation between the rise in rapes and banning of prostitution is not conclusive, it is still a subject of public debate all over Europe.

    I wouldn’t even touch on the psychological and socio-biological theories of rape, which might be way too unpalatable for a discussion here.

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    • We are talking about Rape. So the psychological and socio-biological theories of rape are important. May be you should talk about them. Non-palatable to whom? If those theories actually say something more than “rape is caused by the skirt’s length”, please do write here. I am recent reader of this blog. IMO, the crowd here is pretty much enlightened enough to read through what you have to say!!

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    • “To iterate the point some commenter overlooked, Sweden actually experienced a drastic rise in rapes which followed the ban on prostitution in 2004.”

      Has anyone proven any causative relationship between these two things? Just because they happened around the same time does not automatically establish a cause and effect relationship. There could have been some other social or legal factors that caused both of these issues. So unless this has been systematically proven to be cause and effect, we can not assume that it is so.

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  18. Should prostitution be legal – yes. Just because it happens whether or not it is legal and currently we just make sex workers open to abuse (even by authorities). If you regulate it, you have a much better chance of combating trafficking and women/ children being coerced into the trade.

    Is it a solution to prevent rapes – no. Whether rape is sexual or about power or both, it simply is unacceptable that if men don’t get enough of ‘it’ then they think they can just ‘take it’ by force. This is a cultural issue, it happens because we let it happen, even encourage it to happen. To say that a horny man will turn to rape to get sex is bizarre. Rape is not sex. The rapist’s pleasure is clearly not just sexual but also coming from inflicting violence on someone. All the recent cases of people raping 4 and 5 year old little girls are NOT because these men were just horny. It takes something else to make the leap from ‘I am turned on’ to ‘I will rape, violate and kill a 4 year old’.

    In fact this argument that prostitution stops rape plays directly into the patriarchal belief that men are entitled to sex, that they ‘deserve’ sex. Well, no. Even if you make prostitution legal, a man could be turned down by a prostitute. The prostitute should still have all the rights of other women! So no, a man does not deserve sex if he can’t find a consenting partner, prostitute or otherwise. The issue of what rape means and why it happens is entirely separate from legalisation of prostitution.

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    • I think prevention is too strong a word if your opinion pertains to the current debate. The reduce in the sexual crime is POSSIBLE when the MOST VULNERABLE members of the community are treated equally and their complains are recognized and addressed. For that, we have to recognize, regularize and legalize their profession. This is as simple as that.

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  19. I think the point R’s friend was trying to make was not that the availability of sex through prostitutes would bring down crimes against women. From what i gather, he seems to be saying that if we ensure that sex workers are given the rights and protection they deserve, then the fact that even the women who are seen as the most ‘immoral’ have legal rights will send out the message that violence against women (ANY women, not just ‘good’ and ‘respectable’ women) will not be tolerated. I think the idea might be that if we ensure that the women most discriminated against are ensured the right to bodily autonomy, it will apply to other women more easily (more so because a prostitute’s body is sadly not seen as her own).

    I am not sure if it will work in a country like ours though, where people think that keeping the age of consent at 16 years is encouraging pre-marital sex. A lot of people here cannot differentiate between morality and law. In fact, very few people understand that others might have morals that are very different from theirs.

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    • Firstly,it is problematic to suggest that prostitutes will get full ‘rights’ (whatever that means) only upon legalisation of prostitution.They are *already* entitled to their full fundamental rights as citizens of India. This is not conditional according to profession.
      Secondly, from a healthcare POV , legalisation is not required to promote AIDS or contraceptive awareness- this is already happening in states such as TN.
      Thirdly, it is futile to suggest that a ‘legal’ prostitution industry will automatically get rid of all illegal practices- such as using minors, or forcing someone into the trade- it will merely drive such things underground.
      Fourthly, it amazes me that people want to link prostitution with sexual crimes against women. This line of thinking essentially asserts that if there men in a society , there will be a certain amount of sexual ‘need’ that needs to be met- else a ‘spillover’ effect will take place and rapes will increase. This is reductionism at it’s most regressive. Men are not animals.
      Finally, the issue is really about attitudes towards women who work as prostitutes. Just like dowry harrassment and domestic violence, changing a law needs to be accompanied by real social change. I suppose many here are using ‘legalisation’ as a synonym for ‘decriminalisation’ of prostitution- the latter IMHO, is a good thing.

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  20. Pingback: Several well-known businessmen arrested in Hyderabad on Sunday for being involved in a high profile prostitution racket. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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