Arvind Kala The Times of India Monday, January 9, 2006
Dutch prostitutes pay 19% VAT on their earnings. Singapore's business district has a licensed red light area with five to six brothels having around 400 prostitutes. Australia's leading sex company Daily Planet was listed on the stock exchange two years ago. Street prostitution has been legal in Italy for 50 years. Its prime minister suggests that brothels be legalised too. In short, the western world has veered around to viewing prostitution as an economic activity. But India's estimated 2.3 million prostitutes are clubbed with beggars, vagabonds and street children in the 2001 census. Now a new lethal threat hangs over their livelihoods — a government move to broaden its anti-prostitution law to include the arrest of their male clients. If implemented, the move will pauperise prostitutes by frightening away their customers. India should ask why it criminalises a profession that is legal in countries like Denmark, Greece, Brazil and Costa Rica. These countries have sensibly concluded that it's best to regulate a profession that cannot be stamped out. India should do the same.