Prostitution in India: Can it be legalized?

Photo Courtesy: Voice of America

Even after 73 years of independence, India is still considered a developing country. What’s the reason for this setback? Among several thousands of causes, the existence of social taboos is also a roadblock in front of India’s development. These social taboos are an integrated part of our society’s norms and traditions while it’s also engaged in manipulating the legal provisions of this country. So, is it possible to legalize prostitution?

A business that promotes the selling of body in return for monetary benefit, in a country like India, can it be legalised? And, if it’s legalized, will it really help to boost the Indian economy? To find out, let’s have a look at how prostitution in other countries is affecting their economy.

How is prostitution affecting the world economy?

Thailand is probably the biggest place for prostitution, with over 140,000 sex workers according to a survey conducted by UNAIDS in 2014. Prostitution in Thailand constitutes a huge in the shadow economy. Even though it’s illegal, the laws are ambiguous and unenforced for prostitution there.

The shadow economy itself contributes up to 40.9% of the country’s GDP, as reported in 2014. The main attraction in Thailand is sex tourism, and about 10% of tourist money goes towards the sex trade. You can only imagine, how much it will actually help the economy of Thailand if the entire prostitutional trade is legalized and taken under govt jurisdiction.


On the other hand, Germany allows brothels, advertisements, job offers through HR companies. Prostitution is legal there and the govt. charges tax on it as well. Germany has also passed the Prostitutes Protection Act in 2016 in order to protect the sex workers while giving out permits and registration certificates for all prostitutional trades. The German GDP spikes with the $19.5 billion/year that comes from legalizing prostitution.

The legalization means the inclusion of govt officials and the elimination of pimps or middlemen. Since prostitution is a highly-payable job, the tax on it will have a significant effect on the economy of the country. Even though New Zealand, Austria, Brazil, and Denmark have legalized prostitution, India is probably far from it.

Official legalization of prostitution in India

Yes, prostitution is considered legal when it takes place within the residence of the participants. But what it means for India to officially legalizing Prostitution?

An alternative for the financially deprived women

India is a country with the second-highest population in the world with unemployment tearing up the entire nation. In the rural parts of India, men are still the primary source of income and in case they stop providing for the family, the uneducated and unskilled women are left for starvation or fall prey to human trafficking. Now, legalizing prostitution will propose a way for those financially deprived women to earn for themselves.

Reduced Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a grave concern in India. The number of trafficked children and women is rising at an alarming rate. If the government labels prostitution legal, then with the involvement of the govt, it would be much easier to address and recognize those women who were intimidated into this trade.


Less sexually transmitted diseases

A large number of women sex workers lack proper education and are unaware of the precautions required before sexual intercourse. It increases the risk of HIV and AIDs significantly for both the worker and the person she is engaging with. If the government intervenes in this matter, it’s possible to educate them about contraceptives and precautions much effectively. And with the help of several NGOs, it would be a lot easier.

Economical boost

Prostitution brings a massive amount of revenue for the underground economy. If it’s legalized, the earning will be included under GDP. Thus, the Indian govt. can expect a significant hike. It will also help to curb a big source of black money along the way. Just take the economy of Thailand and Germany for example.

Maharashtra government comes to aid

Maharashtra govt. has decided to pay 5,000 rupees per month till December to about 30,901 female sex workers, all across 32 districts. An additional 2,500 rupees will be given to the sex workers with children who are studying in schools. There’s no pressure to show identity either. This is the first time a state govt has donated anything from the CM fund for the sex workers. It’s considered as the first step towards a progressing and more open-minded India. It encourages other state governments including the central, to take the matter of prostitution and sex workers under consideration.

However, despite these facts, the question remains. Is it possible to legalize prostitution in India? A country so rich in culture, devoted to gods, RESPECTS WOMEN in so many ways – is it possible for such traditional countrymen to accept such a thing as prostitution?


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