Life in prostitution: The tireless struggles of prostitutes which tear them apart
- Today, prostitution is a huge problem and child prostitution is making it more complex and dangerous.
- Prostitutes live under extreme circumstances where pimps and brothel owners assault them brutally if they do not earn their daily assigned minimum quota of money.
- In India, every hour, over 5 women and girls enter prostitution, mainly against their will.
Security is of extreme importance in any kind of job, which is why there are laws and rules in place to make sure that people are protected. However, there is none when it comes to the protection of sex workers/prostitutes and on top of that, they are exploited, stigmatised, and marginalised.
PROSTITUTE AND PROSTITUTION
A prostitute woman is a person who sometimes voluntarily but mainly against her will allows her body to be used as a sex object in return for some benefits mainly monetary. Prostitution is the business of selling sexual services which include oral sex or sexual intercourse, for money or other benefits.
Prostitution, the term itself speaks about the plight of a woman and is not a problem which exists only in India but exists throughout the world. However, India is known to be the home today to Asia’s largest red-light district–Mumbai’s infamous Kamathipura, which originated as a massive brothel for British occupiers and shifted to a local clientele following Indian independence.
CAUSES OF PROSTITUTION
Ill-treatment by parents, poverty, financial burden (economic distress), a family of prostitutes, toxic relations, social customs, lack of sex education, prior incest and rape experiences, marriage trap and desertion, lack of recreational facilities, ignorance, and acceptance of prostitution, desire for physical pleasure, greed, and dejection are some of the causes of prostitution.
According to the data from Minister for Women and Child Development, over half of the 8 lakh female sex workers (FSW) in India are identified from the 5 southern states — Andhra Pradesh which has 1.33 lakh, sex workers, while Karnataka has 1.2 lakh. There are over 22,060 FSWs in Uttar Pradesh and 46,787 in the national capital – New Delhi.
Reportedly, most of the girls are trafficked from multiple countries mainly Nepal and Bangladesh to brothels in Mumbai and Kolkata at an average age of twelve. They are trapped under the pretext of job recruitment and drag them into the vicious cycle of prostitution, debt and slavery.
DISCRIMINATION AND STIGMATISATION
The rights of sex workers do not exist, they face a lot of discrimination due to their criminalised status, they are looked down upon for obvious reasons and have no place in society, and most of the time are they treated harshly even by the law. Their fight to be accepted by society or given the same human rights, health, and labour rights as others, continues as they do not come under the same category as other workers.
For instance, when most people were jobless during the COVID-19 pandemic, sex workers were the ones who were most affected as without clients, they have no money and for money, they have to get laid.
Prostitutes want protection from police harassment and from the pimps who profit off them and the sex buyers who get extremely violent with them. Sex buyers even pinch, urinate on, box and murder the women in some cases.
It has been found that prostitutes have the highest homicide victimisation rate of any set of women ever studied, as per the research published by the National Library of Medicine at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information.
What scares them (prostitutes) the most is what will happen to their underage children. It is not possible to study or sleep inside a brothel as the reality is very harsh because, at any time, a customer can walk into a brothel no matter if it is during the night or day and kids play on the floor while their mothers are in the same room servicing the clients. Many times, it has been reported that customers/clients reach out to touch the child and the mother is unable to protect her daughter.
ABUSE, EXPLOITATION IN UNSAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENTS
Most of the time, sex workers are exposed to abuses that range mainly from physical to mental attacks. They face harassment not only from clients, but also from their own family members, the community, and the people who put them in this business. No one comes to their aid if they get attacked. Due to lack of money, they work in dingy places, and their earnings are also taken away from them by the pimps, and police as bribes or sometimes stolen from them. They are also not denied access to essential health services that include treatment for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases
The life of a prostitute is a time filled with trauma, without dignity, or you can even say that every client crushes their soul on a daily basis. They are often forced to watch other women endure, the worst and the most inhuman things done by those who pay for sex as they just lay there motionless. Most of the time, they are always in a dire physical and mental state and lay in bed and barely able to receive their clients. Many suffer from frequent panic attacks and gradually became unsuitable for their pimp, as he considered her to no longer be a good source of income.
The clients don’t care if you are in pain or not in a mood”, which makes most of them even more excited or angry and the whole situation gets very brutal. The women in the brothel are empty inside as if they have no soul left and this is what happens when you have to suppress your feelings every day and cannot show disgust or resistance as you are in a hopeless state.
According to a Swiss study, it was revealed that there are multiple negative effects of prostitution on mental health. The study found that prostitutes suffer from mental illnesses far more often than women in other professions as 1 in 2 women in prostitution is always ill, while the figure is only 12% of women in other professions. In prostitution, the common ailments are depression and anxiety disorders.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
There are not many people who actually care about the prostitutes or who can be able to check what is going on behind a locked door and how the woman is feeling. Although, it is also a fact that some women like to earn money with sex and do sex work voluntarily unlike, the ones who are trafficked for this purpose or who are recruited and exploited via the Internet and the brutal fact is that the ones who do it voluntarily, do not go through the misery at all.
The United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International, are all advocating for more prominent protections for sex workers.
PROSTITUTE BY CHOICE
According to our sources, the hard and sad truth about this is that, apart from the women who are in this business just for survival, there are many from school/college girls to working women/ housewives who are not only prostitutes but also, they entered this profession by choice and have no qualms about it.
“Others sell their brain, we sell our body, and we are ok with it, says a 26-year-old college girl from a prestigious university in Delhi who is also a high-priced prostitute.
According to her, there are many like her in this profession and they found this a ‘perfect’ job that offers great money, convenient working hours, and a lavish lifestyle so that there is no need to work a 9 to 5 shift on a desk in front of a computer.
“We can’t tell this to our parents as it’s impossible for them to understand for obvious reasons. Only my friends and the ones who are in the same business know about it and honestly, it becomes very lonely sometimes as we cannot share everything with our loved ones,” she further said.
“The annual package from cooperates is never enough to buy everything we desire so minting some “extra cash” keeps us going in this trade”, a 30-year-old girl who works in cooperate said.
“For us, we also have our own struggle in this so-called ‘profession’ of sex as sometimes, some clients get very rude, or force us to do BDSM, but the hardest part of our job is to stop ourselves from getting attached to someone ‘emotionally’ or vice-versa as there are many who are married and it gets really complicated,” she further added.
A WORLD WITHOUT PROSTITUTION
Sweden has been a role model as buying sex has been illegal there since 1998. Punishing the clients or pimps has drastically reduced the demand for prostitution and as a fact, it was proved when a recorded phone call between a Romanian human trafficker and a Swedish pimp surfaced online which you can hear the pimp complaining that the Swedish market is dead for prostitution.
There are many activists who advise politicians and give interviews to educate the public about the reality and the dark ugly truth of prostitution to bring about change and save girls and women from their fate.
Sex workers or prostitutes, perhaps words don’t matter but ALL INNOCENT LIVES DO MATTER.