Subject: Fw: [end-violence] Re: Legalization of prostitution
From: A. Jordan (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Oct 25 1999 - 13:26:52 EDT
>Sanlaap started its journey as a group of feminists, researchers and
>teachers who decided to work with women's groups for the rights of
>women and girl children.
>In 1989-90 a study of the sexually abused girl children in Calcutta and
>suburbs changed the mission and work of Sanlaap totally.
>We found hundreds of girl children being trafficked, tricked and forced
>into prostitution. We talked to at least sixteen hundred young girls and
> a.. Girls were married or lured for marriage and trafficked for
> b.. Girls from vulnerable and poor families were lured with work
>proposals starting from domestic work, baby sitting to jobs at factory,
>organised sectors and trafficked for prostitution.
> c.. Girls from vulnerable and poor families were lured with work
>proposals and trafficked for prostitution.
> d.. Girls were tricked, kidnapped and trafficked for prostitution.
>[Same happened with young women also.]
>Sanlaap decided to work for the rights of these vulnerable girls and
>women and also for the victims. There was no other way. Human beings
>should not be for sale. From 1990-93 was the learning period for us. In
>1993 Sanlaap started the first shelter of vulnerable daughters of women
>in prostitution, due to the request of the women themselves. There were
>already fifteen evening drop-in-centres in the Brothel areas of Calcutta
>and districts of West Bengal maintaining a larger network all over India
>and across the country for rehabilitation, repatriation and
>reintegration of the victims where we reached to some 2000 and more
>We learnt that:
> a.. Children of these women were vulnerable.
> b.. The women themselves were very poor.
> c.. The women did not want the children to get into prostitution.
> d.. Most women came as young girls because there was lack of choice,
>and continued to stay because there was no alternative.
>In 1993 three girls were rescued by Sanlaap from being sold into
>prostitution and we felt we needed to work for the rights of trafficked
>girls forced into prostitution. By 1996 Sanlaap started two more
>shelters for girls rescued from prostitution. There were girls from
>Bangladesh, Nepal and different parts of India. Some ran away and came
>to us, some were rescued by us and some came through the police and
>court and we took custody.
>This was our time of realisation and shock. We found girls suffering
>from syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia (STDs), pelvic inflammatory
>diseases and chronic pains, TB and of course HIV/AIDS.
>The emotional health problems related to mental trauma, drug and
>substance abuse, stress, depression and anxiety and eating disorders
>along with behavioural problems affecting peers and others in the
>These were the years when Sanlaap continued to learn about the world
>wide human rights issue related happenings and about the issue of
>trafficking and migration, and its effect on girls and young women.
>This was the same time when we also learnt about the call for
>prostitution to be legalised as a profession, and recognised as work. We
>heard women in prostitution were being organised in different parts of
>the world (including India) who wanted prostitution to be recognised as
>The simple but inevitable questions that came in our minds were as
> a.. When it starts with violence & sexual abuse how can we call it
> b.. When power relations are inequal and exploitative how can we
>call it work?
> c.. When men and some women earn from selling a child's body, a
>human being, how can we call it work?
> d.. An action that violates human rights, how can we call it work ?
> e.. If female genital mutilation has been rejected by women groups,
>why wouldn't we reject rape of a girl child which is the basis and
>beginning of prostitution? How can we call this work?
> f.. Purchase and sale of girls, through threats, trickery, deceit
>and false promises are the ways through which girls and young women are
>trafficked and forced into prostitution. Do we call it work?
>Sex trafficking makes women and girl children an object of sale and use
>and is total violation of human rights. It places women and girls in
>danger and denies her right to life and security. Girls and minors are
>kept as bonded labourers in debt-bondages for years till they can flee.
>Some die of disease and others due to violence. They suffer rape,
>beating, debt, multiple abortions and treated as our casts in the
>society. As we all know, young & minor boys are also abused & exploited;
>but the percentage of them is much less compared to that of girls. This
>again reflects the effect of gender discrimination and unequal power
>structure that largely exist in our society.
>We at Sanlaap are known as women with middle class moralities because we
>condemn prostitution but not prostitutes. We work for the rights of
>these women and girl children.
>We believe that "legalisation" would strengthen the hands of the
>traffickers, pimps, brothel owners and madams. The demand of the market
>(male clients) is the body of a young girl, preferably a minor and thus
>the supply will be the same. Legalisation of prostitution would only
>strengthen the abuse and the client. On the debate of legalisation we
>are "clear on our stands" and would fight to stop it. If adult women
>want to sell their own body, they can continue to do it because our law
>does not prevent it. But child prostitution, trafficking and living off
>prostitution is illegal and we have to stop these crimes.
>It is possible to look into the international instruments that address
>trafficking in women. Our laws in India are based on the 1949 convention
>on the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and the Prostitution of
> a.. We need to look into the law to decriminalise and protect adult
>women in prostitution.
> b.. We need to treat them as human beings, with dignity as today
>they lack any alternative to maintain themselves and their children.
> c.. We need to look into the law to see women can look after their
>children on their own income NOT let their able parents, dependent and
>lazy husbands or boyfriends live off them.
>Some organisations, learned individuals, intellectuals and renowned
>professionals are demanding that women in prostitution are aware of
>their sexual health needs and are empowered to use condoms to protect
>themselves from HIV/AIDS & STD. They also say that women in prostitution
>are organising themselves and they are the ones who are going to stop
>child trafficking and child prostitution.
>We feel extremely sad when we take care of at least eleven HIV+ girls in
>our shelters who were rescued in the last three years.
>We continue to rescue two to three girls every two months and listen to
>the shocking details of their lives as a prostitute.
>We suffer because these girls and minors suffer from mental health
>problems, sexuality confusions and aggression created due to pressure,
>torture and violence. We need to ask some questions:
> a.. If prostitution is work then why do prostitutes come running to
>us to request shelter for their girl children?
>[after having a full house of sixty or more girls, we continue to get
>requests from mothers who do not want their children around. And follow
>the mother's foot steps.]
> b.. If prostitution is work, and if women with options also think
>so, why can't they encourage and send their own girls to this work?
>Let us not cheat ourselves at this hour of need anymore. We need to
>protect the rights of these women in prostitution. We should not throw
>away the women from Taanbazar (Bangladesh) and talk about development
>alternatives, but we should rescue all minors from their living hell and
>provide them with safety, security, shelter, education and most
>importantly "proper childhood".
>We should identify and expose all those traffickers (men & women),
>recruiters (many of them are ex-prostitutes also) and people who can we
>use "assist" them (police, judiciary, BSF) and give them exemplary
> a.. We should think of awareness and advocacy programmes to make
>people aware of the happenings.
> b.. We should identify customers and punish them when they abuse
>young girls and minors.
> c.. Our governments should take up special education awareness and
>economic programmes to lessen the vulnerability of families and increase
>the safety and security of the girl children in the villages especially
>in the traffic prone areas.
>And to ensure the above, we should have clear advocacy strategies and
>should lobby for bringing about the desire change together.
>Let us not please and fool ourselves thinking:
> a.. prostitution can be work;
> b.. prostitution can be a way of life;
> c.. prostitution is the woman's rehabilitation in life.
>Let us fight prostitution, not prostitutes. Let us work for their human
>rights, not work to create more prostitutes out of our children.
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