National

NCW chief for legalising sex trade

Lalitha Kumaramangalam  

The chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Lalitha Kumaramangalam, has advocated legalising sex work to regulate the trade and ensure better living conditions for women engaged in commercial sex work. Legalising the trade, she says, will also bring down trafficking in women and lower the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Ms. Kumaramangalam said she would put forth the proposal at the empowered committee meeting of the Cabinet on November 8. “It [legalisation] is meant to regulate the trade. A vast majority of women in sex trade are trafficked; if it is legalised then commercial trafficking can be dealt with stringently,” she told The Hindu.

In the absence of regulation, she said sex workers were forced to serve clients in unhygienic and unhealthy conditions and without condoms, which led to the spread of HIV and other STDs. “For instance in Sonagachi [red-light area] in Kolkata, which is the best organised cooperative of sex workers, there is no security for the children; clients are reluctant to use condoms and become carriers of disease. All this can be changed, if we regulate the profession,” she said.

The NCW chief said legalisation would cover various aspects — from working hours, remuneration and health care of sex workers to education and economic alternatives for their families. “There is a need to offer employment alternatives to the women in the sex trade,” she said.

Activists disagree

While she asserts that legalisation will also help weed out middlemen and brothel owners who exploit the women, activists campaigning for a ban on the trade disagree.

“Legalisation of prostitution will only embolden the traffickers. Based on our experience, we know that women are abused, coerced and tricked into commercial sex trade. These women are not working by themselves, they are part of a brothel and there are pimps involved. And it is these people who make profit from the sex work; by legalising the trade, we will end up serving them,” said Tinku Khanna, of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking.

Supreme Court lawyer and president of NGO Shakti Vahini Ravi Kant not only demanded an end to the profession, but also strict punishment for those who force women into the trade.

“The sad part is that in spite of the various recommendations from the Supreme Court, no genuine efforts have been made by any government to see that this social malice is eradicated,” he said.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 4:08:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/NCW-chief-for-legalising-sex-trade/article11086511.ece

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