Prostitution is legal in India but it is caught in a web of laws that makes sex workers vulnerable to police action in red-light areas, where they ply their trade on streets or in dingy brothels. The Police are often accused of crossing the limit in their efforts to enforce anti-trafficking laws, clamping down on prostitutes and clients having a liaison conducted in private with consent between the two. However, prostitution, in reality, is not how it's shown in the movies and the police are not the real life villains for the prostitutes.
On conversing with Inspector Samar Pratap Singh (name changed) of the Kamla Nagar police station, it was found that police in turn is unprejudiced on the issue of prostitution, “prostitution is an age-old custom that has been a part of our culture from ancient times, earlier it was out in the open but now it's under guarded darkness. The major reason for prostitution in our country is poverty, he said.”
On being asked about the trafficking of young girls into prostitution, he added “young girls are trafficked and brought to brothels initially. We have rescued quite a few of them with the help of NGOs but a proper system for their rehabilitation is missing. Moreover, a lot of them are unwilling to go back to their normal lives and are here by choice. A conscious decision taken to earn money. Once, you get into the profession, it's difficult to get out. However, the older ones get to lead a normal life with a husband and a family after a certain age and are able to break away from this chain.”
“This profession works on consent. We are present here, however, to help them out in times of need. These women, often, seek our help when matters go out of hand. After all, we are here to serve all the citizens of our country,” he claimed in the end.
This interview with the police officer is the opinion of one person alone and can’t vouch for the treatment meted out to the prostitutes by the entire police department in a country as big as India. However, it does give an insight of the way the police deals with prostitution, which has grossly misinterpreted for ages.
The government should take measures for the rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave prostitution so that they can live with dignity. An elaborate mechanism, providing an alternative livelihood to prevent re-trafficking of former prostitutes should be devised to free a chained woman from the shadow lines of this profession.