A report by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has come out with a report ‘Commercial sexual exploitation in India’, according to which there are over three million sex workers in India, out of which 35.47% enter into prostitution before they enter 18 years. The International Day of No Prostitution was observed on October 5.
The other facts in the report include an alarming rate at which minors are being forced into flesh trade. According to a survey, about 1.2 million children are involved in such trade. The report also revealed that there was a 50% increase in prostitution in India between 1997 and 2004.
The report also said that Mumbai and Kolkata have among the largest brothel based sex industry. In Mumbai, about 1,00,000 sex workers are involved. The government organisations like Maharashtra District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) and NGOs like National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) play an important role in combating STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and increase awareness on HIV/AIDS.
There are diverse views on legalising profession, and a number of NGOs have suggested that the prostitution be legalised and laws framed to prevent exploitation.
In Andhra Pradesh, the trade runs in the semi nomadic tribal community that resides in slums in various towns. Adolescent girls are initiated into the family ‘tradition’, while their brothers become ‘agents’. According to K.K. Mukherjee, former head of the Department of Social Work, DU. Apart from the community, there are other tribal communities in Anantapur district who take up prostitution as their primary source of income.
NGOs like Help and Vimukthi have been campaigning for the rights of children and prevent second generation prostitution and to end human trafficking. “We have been asking for compensation for victims under the laws. Those forced into prostitution can be absorbed into the mainstream,” says Ongole-based Help organisation secretary N.V.S. Rammohan.