Noted activist against legalizing prostitution

Written by: IANS
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New Delhi, Oct 30: Legalizing prostitution will lead to commodification of women's bodies and encourage organized crime to tighten its hold over the sector, a leading social activist working against trafficking said here Thursday.

National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam had said in a statement Wednesday that a proposal for legalizing prostitution in India will be placed before a Supreme Court constituted panel Nov 8.

At a special discussion organized by the Apne Aap Worldwide, an organisation working for trafficked women, Ravi Kant, founder of NGO Shakti Vahini, said: "I am not in favour of this (legalizing prostitution). It is not clear whether it is her (Kumaramangalam) personal opinion or the commission's. It seems that it is her personal opinion".

He said that in the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, prostitution was linked to immorality. "Women were stigmatized. Our constitution has only one crime mentioned, which is trafficking".

"There was no proper implementation. Soliciting was a crime and it was misused a lot. These things look good in law but when it is implemented, it becomes a problem".

"Government tried to amend the law a lot of times," he added.

"Women's groups have said that if you tried to target clients then our business will get affected. These groups became active when HIV/AIDS became a problem," he said.

"By legalizing prostitution, there will be a commodification of women's body. The argument that due to the law women are being stigmatized is wrong," he said.

The noted social sector worker claimed that if prostitution is given industry status then demand for women will be created. "Who will fill in the demand? Situation will be created so that women don't have any option but to join prostitution".

"Only legalizing prostitution will not help. All government schemes are available to these women. There are creches being run by the government in red light areas and other facilities like HIV/AIDS cells," he added.

"It is a myth that legalizing prostitution will give them government benefits".

"The countries where prostitution has been legalized, women's bodies have been commodified. Girls will still be recruited from far off poverty-stricken places. Legalization will give them a boost," Ravi Kant said.

He said: "We have said that people running the brothels should have their properties seized".

The social worker added that on its part, the government should try and formulate schemes to all women and not stigmatize them.


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