Prostitution in India
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In India, prostitution (exchanging sex for money) is legal, but related activities such as soliciting sex, operating brothels and pimping are illegal.
Prostitution is currently a contentious issue in India. In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development reported the presence of 2.8 million sex workers in India, with 35.47 percent of them entering the trade before the age of 18 years. The number of prostitutes has doubled in the last decade.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, Indian anti-trafficking laws are designed to combat commercialized vice; prostitution, as such, is not illegal. A sex worker can be punished for soliciting or seducing in public, while clients can be punished for sexual activity in proximity to a public place, and the organization puts the figure of sex workers in India at around 20 million, with Mumbai alone being home to 200,000 sex workers, the largest sex industry centre in Asia. Over the years, India has seen a growing mandate to legalize prostitution, to avoid exploitation of sex workers and their children by middlemen and in the wake of growing HIV/AIDS menace. Normally, female prostitutes are categorised as common prostitutes, singers and dancers, call girls, religious prostitutes (or devadasi), and caged brothel prostitutes. Districts borderingMaharashtra and Karnataka, known as the ‘devadasi belt’, have trafficking structures operating at various levels . Brothels are illegal de jure but in practice are restricted in location to certain areas of any given town. Though the profession does not have official sanction, little effort is made to eradicate or impede it.
Sonagachi in Kolkata, Kamathipura in Mumbai, G. B. Road in New Delhi, Reshampura in Gwalior and Budhwar Peth in Pune host thousands of sex workers. They are famous red lightcentres in India.
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