Feminists views on Prostitution

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Prostitution is an age old profession rather one of the oldest professions in the world. It has been going on much before feminism was even an idea in anyone’s mind. Rather during the rule of the kings it was a very open profession and even the kings had some prostitutes kept aside just for themselves. And since then a lot of time has passed and prostitution has still remained a part of our society.

Through all the changes and revolutions, even prostitution has evolved. In today’s world prostitution is looked down upon and anyone even remotely related to the field is shunned by the society. People fail to realize the fact that prostitution is a profession like any other. The dictionary definition of prostitution is  that it is the act of engaging in sexual activity or relations in exchange for benefit of money.

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In our society prostitution is a taboo. People prefer not even talking about it amongst themselves let alone discussing this issue on a bigger platform. We need to understand that prostitution is nothing bad is it a profession and business like the rest where the commodity being sold is sex. It is just the way the industry runs and people perceive it that has created this attitude among people. Prostitution in India is not a regulated industry and does not fall under the purview of the government and this has created a chaos. According to our constitution also prostitution is conditionally legal. The conditions being

  1. The sex worker cannot publically publicize his/her services.
  1. The act should be consensual and no one should be forced to do it.
  1. The activity should not take place in a close proximity of a public place. There should be a minimum 200 yard distance between the place of work and a public place.


Under these conditions prostitution is legal in India but having brothels and pimping is still illegal.

Looking at prostitution from a feminist’s point of view, there are many feminist groups which strongly oppose prostitution and are completely against it. There are five major feminist groups namely

  1. Marxist Feminism
  1. Liberal Feminism
  1. Existential Feminism
  1. Socialist Feminism
  1. Radical Feminism

These five groups are completely opposed even to the idea of prostitution. Feminists have the equality of women in the society as their main agenda. They want women to have the same rights and opportunities as men and they also want women to given the same social status. They feel that prostitution is degrading the worth of women and dumbing them down. They feel that by engaging in prostitution, they are degrading the worth of women as a whole, because that just makes people believe that women are used only for pleasure and there is nothing more to them and they can keep oppressing women like they have been for ages.

On one had feminists hold the view that prostitution is wrong and an end should be put to it whereas on the other hand there are some feminists who hold a different view about it. They feel that nothing is wrong with prostitution but given the current social and economic status of women, it gives women a subordinate status to women. It makes men think that they can control women and have a right over them. But they still feel that the world and our society is not ready to accept this. They think that there is direct correlation between prostitution and the increasing rate of violence toward women.

There are feminists who feel that prostitution puts women in a subordinate position and this act is not mutual in any respect. In such an act the man has the power as he is the one paying and enjoying and the woman is doing it just because she is getting paid, she does not want to. They feel that this reduces women to mere instruments of pleasure, which can be used by men whenever and however they please and can throw away if they want to. Basically giving them full control on ourselves.

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Not just this feminists have concerns for the women as well. They feel that these women engaging in prostitution are putting themselves at a great risk. This can be very adverse for their health. They can get hurt physically and can also get many sexually transmitted diseases. Also they are not aware of the fact that this can lead to stress and depression in their future life. They can become physically weak and mentally unstable and in some extreme cases have suicidal tendencies.

I for one feel that a woman has full freedom to do whatever she wants with her life, but she should give a lot of thought to it before making such an important decision. And also it will be very beneficial for the sex workers if prostitution is made in to a regulated industry and there are strict laws and rules imposed to ensure that everything is done in a proper manner. Regularizing it can help the sex workers in a lot of ways and this can be made a safe profession and hopefully a respected one too.

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