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Value of a woman: Prostitution and its socio-economic value

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By Kanika Rangray

Prostitution has been a highly controversial topic with its status and legality varying from country to country. Some groups call for the decriminalisation of prostitution; some say it is a social evil which needs to be eliminated from the society.

porn 2Though the oldest profession in the world, every society has a mixed response to prostitution since ancient times. As a matter of fact, actual protests against it started only at the end of the 14th century!

For some, prostitution is labour like any other; whereas, another section terms it as a violation of human rights. For several others, it is an insult to a woman’s dignity; the list of reactions is endless.

But no matter what the reactions and the laws about prostitution are in a country, a staggering amount of money goes into this trade. The most recent reports say that around $186 billion is spent on prostitution worldwide, each year.

The prostitution revenue of a country can go as high as $73 billion!


prostitution revenue

These are statistics of the countries which rank top five in the prostitution revenue index. Out of these, prostitution is a legal industry only in Germany. The next five countries in the top 10 are South Korea ($12 billion), India ($8.4 billion), Thailand ($6.4 billion), Philippines ($6 billion), and Turkey ($4 billion).  Apart from Germany, Netherlands is another country where prostitution is a legal. It ranks 17th with a revenue of $800 million.

There are approximately 13,828,700 prostitutes in the world; the highest number of prostitutes live in China – 5 million. India has the second largest number of prostitutes at 3 million, followed by United States, Philippines and Mexico.

The hierarchy of the money flow

MoneyDoes the money earned by a sex-worker belong solely to him/her?

A source, who chose to remain anonymous, and did a research on sex-workers in a prominent red light area in Delhi, said: “The money flow is hierarchical. There are majorly three parties involved—the sex-worker, the brothel owner, and the pimp. Around 20 per cent of the money earned goes to the pimps. The brothel owner gets 30 per cent as he/she provides accommodation, and the rest remains with the sex-worker for his/her use.”

Ms Bharti Dey, secretary of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, an organisation in Bengal which works for the rights of sex-workers, told NewsGram: “The earlier hierarchy of the distribution of money earned by sex-workers, where the majority of it went to the brothel owners, no longer exists. Now, around 20 per cent goes to the brothel and the rest is the sex worker’s right. But, if it is a contract arrangement then the money is divided 50-50.”

The society’s stand about prostitution

Talking about the rights of sex-workers, Dey said, “We demand that the government legalise prostitution and treat the sex-workers as any other citizen in the country, such as giving them voter ID-cards, ration cards and such. Also, the government should provide them with pension at retirement as they would to any other government employee.”

porn 1When asked about the society’s stand, she replied: “There is a long way to go for the society to change the negative perception they have of ‘prostitutes’ and it won’t happen immediately even if the government termed it as a professional occupation. But at least they will have equal status in the eyes of the law if prostitution is legalised.”

However, an NGO in Delhi, who chose to remain anonymous, was of the opposite opinion and told NewsGram that “India is not ready for legalising prostitution.” In its opinion, it is first required that rules and regulation regarding prostitution and trafficking be made clearer; as of now they are very vague. “Legalising prostitution in such a scenario will be dangerous to the well-being of the sex-worker. It will open gates to more trafficking and violence. The society is not yet ready.”

Augustine C. Kaunds, director of Society for People’s Action Development, a NGO that works with the commercial sex workers in Bangalore, told NewsGram: “In India nobody wants to openly sit with a sex worker. Selling their bodies for money is taboo in the society. Sex industry is not open in India—it is all hidden.”

He added, “We need to protect and consider the women who are below poverty line, face domestic violence and are forced into prostitution, rather than those elite women who prostitute in five-star hotels.”

Some questions remain unanswered: In countries where illegality of prostitution is clear, why are there doubts regarding legality and illegality of the revenue it generates?

The point of the entire socio-economic status of prostitutes goes hand in hand with their status in the society. What is needed is a middle path where the society accepts if not the prostitute, then at least prostitution as a profession.

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  • Ankit Khetan

    When prostitution is illegal in India than how India Govt. Earns $8 Billion from it?

Next Story

Trump Can’t Deny Birth Control Coverage: U.S. Court

The case became more complicated after the Trump administration last month issued new birth control coverage rules that are set to supersede those at issue in the lawsuit before the 9th Circuit.

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birth control, contraceptive
A one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills is displayed in Sacramento, Calif. VOA

A divided U.S. appeals court Thursday blocked rules by the Trump administration that allowed more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control.

The ruling, however, may be short lived because the administration has adopted new rules on contraceptive coverage that are set to take effect next month and will likely prompt renewed legal challenges.

Thursday’s ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerned changes to birth control coverage requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued in October 2017.

States were likely to succeed on their claim that those changes were made without required notice and public comment, the appeals court panel said in a 2-1 decision.

USA, birth control
A man stands outside the main door of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals building in San Francisco. VOA

The majority upheld a preliminary injunction against the rules issued by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam last year. It, however, limited the scope of the injunction, applying it only to the five states in the lawsuit and not the entire country.

Another federal judge also blocked the rules, and her nationwide injunction remains in place.

An email to the Justice Department seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Obama’s health care law required most companies to cover birth control at no additional cost, though it included exemptions for religious organizations. The new policy allowed more categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing free contraception to women by claiming religious objections. It also allowed any company that is not publicly traded to deny coverage on moral grounds.

The Department of Justice said in court documents that the rules were about protecting a small group of “sincere religious and moral objectors” from having to violate their beliefs. The changes were favored by social conservatives who are staunch supporters of President Donald Trump.

Reproductive Rights, abortion, women, birth control
A community health worker holds up contraceptives during a lecture on family planning at a reproductive health clinic run by an NGO in Tondo city, metro Manila. VOA

California filed a lawsuit to block the changes that was joined by Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia.

“Today’s decision is an important step to protect a woman’s right to access cost-free birth control and make independent decisions about her own reproductive health care,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

‘Economic harm’

The states argued that the changes could result in millions of women losing free birth control services, forcing them to seek contraceptive care through state-run programs or programs that the states had to reimburse.

The states show with “reasonable probability” that the new rules will lead women to lose employer-sponsored contraceptive coverage, “which will then result in economic harm to the states,” 9th Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace, a nominee of Republican President Richard Nixon, wrote for the majority.

Reproductive Rights, abortion, women, birth control
Newer Contraception Tries to Engage Men. VOA

In a dissent, 9th Circuit Judge Andrew Kleinfeld said the economic harm to the states was “self-inflicted” because they chose to provide contraceptive coverage to women. The states, therefore, did not have the authority to bring the lawsuit, said Kleinfeld, a nominee of Republican President George H.W. Bush.

Also Read: To Diversify The Industry, Apple Pledges To Train More Women

The case became more complicated after the Trump administration last month issued new birth control coverage rules that are set to supersede those at issue in the lawsuit before the 9th Circuit. Under the new rules, large companies whose stock is sold to investors won’t be able to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage.

Wallace said the new rules did not make the case before the 9th Circuit moot because they are not set to take effect until January. (VOA)