Saturday, March 24, 2007

should we legalize prostitution?

Yes! That’s my single word answer to this question that has been endlessly discussed in the print and electronic media, at various platforms, by hundreds of people before me, that includes both, men as well as women.

I will narrate a routine observation that I happened to make last year. I spent a week in Singapore last feb, and was put up in a hotel, located in an area known as ‘little india’. My evening routine was pretty simple, after taking a walk in the markets, and shopping malls, I used to frequent one of the open roadside beer joints, to have a couple of tiger beers, and then have a lavish dinner at a nearby south Indian restaurants, and then it was bedtime, back at my hotel. And every evening I used to visit a new place to have beer, and a new restaurant as well.

One such evening, as I finished my beer and was strolling around to search for a restaurant, I walked into a red light area. And once I knew this was the flesh market, I thought of at least having a look around. There were about 6 parallel lanes, with small row houses on both sides. Each lane was around 50 metres long. Al these houses or brothels that they really were, were open, with a pink colored tubelight in the porch. This pink light was an indication that one could buy sex here. As I walked slowly along all 6 lanes, one by one, I saw girls and women of different age, shapes, and sizes, sitting inside, or standing by the doorway, enticing clients. From their features, I could see that these girls were from different nationalities as well. In one of the lanes there were a few policemen, who had parked their bikes and were chatting amongst themselves, maybe on a regular patrol duty. A few people were operating small box like stalls selling all the sleaze stuff, CDs, magazines, posters, post cards, and various other gadgets sold in a sex shop! On the whole it was very routine, all the prostitutes carried a license, as prostitution is legalized in that country. No brokers visible anywhere, no one came after you, and I didn’t notice any shady happenings either. This surprised me, here too Singapore was ahead of us:)

Let us accept one thing. However strongly one wishes, flesh trade is never going to end completely. So why not legalize it in our country, and provide some amount of system, sensibility, and respect to this trade? These girls are humans too. There are many factors that forces them to enter this trade. But it doesn’t mean they should be subjected to constant fear, and inhuman treatment from the brothel owners, the police and the middlemen.
Legalizing prostitution will considerably reduce trafficking of girls, probably make the brothel owners and “dalals” redundant, and the lives of these women will become less painful. Their living conditions will improve to a large extent.

This is strange, but when I sit down to do some serious writing, I see a solution to every problem. And when I look around, in real life, the problems remain as they are. As a civilized society, does it reflect our unwillingness to solve these issues or our incapability? Or is it just that, collectively, we simply don’t care?