New Delhi, the capitol city of India, is considering the legalization and regulation of prostitution on a nationwide basis. Seems reasonable since the world's oldest profession is still one of the most profitable professions for women all over the world. However, the black market status of sex-for-money keeps women and girls codependent and often enslaved. Supporters of legalization claim that government licensure of prostitutes will end or greatly reduce illegal sex trafficking and make working as a prostitute safer. In short, bringing brothels into the light of day would make them better, cleaner, and safer for everyone involved.

Prostitution in India

In India, prostitution is not technically illegal. It is not a crime for an adult to willingly sell sex for money. However, under current Indian law it Is illegal to solicit or to support oneself from the proceeds of prostitution. This includes running a brothel. It's also a crime to induce, detain, or purchase anyone for sex work. Proponents of legalization argue that by taking the threat of criminal penalties out of the picture that sex workers who live and work in dire conditions could report their bosses/captors to authorities and get real help.

For many women in India, prostitution is a way to earn a living after a tragedy, such as a husband dying or a natural disaster. Yet for others, being kidnapped and sold into sex work is an real fear particularly in remote villages where law enforcement is practically non-existent. Some women are even tricked by lovers and sold into sexual slavery. Many sex work proprietors feel that licensing and regulating sex work will improve conditions for sex workers. More importantly, though, it promises to curb the trafficking of women and children. That should be a good enough reason for anyone.

One brothel owner, Iqbal Ahmed, is quoted as saying "If licenses are given, the selling and buying will end. No one will be forced. No minor will be made to do this work…if this work is kept illegal, the dirt will spread everywhere."

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Prostitution in the United States

Even in the United States, sex work is one of a very small number of professions where women consistently earn more money than men. This can lead some, myself included, to suspect that keeping prostitution illegal is a not so subtle way of keeping women subjugated. By preventing women from selling their own sexual prowess under the threat of arrest, the powers that be are able to put one more stumbling block in front of women trying to earn a better place in life and those who genuinely enjoy sex work.

Any history book can explain that taking a product or service off the black market can make it cleaner, safer, and better. The example of American prohibition tells us that thousands of people died from illegal hooch when it was all sold by criminals. Now, deaths due to tainted liquor are practically non-existent.

Should India and the United States be doing everything they can to make life safer and keep the most vulnerable members of society from being trafficked? Of course. Should that include legalizing sex for money as a business and providing licenses for those who want to do sex work in a clean, safe environment? What do you think?