Prostitution as an acceptable profession
Who’s to say what is right or what is wrong? Who is to decide the norms of society? Is it one person, is it society itself? Or, is it God?
For the time being, let’s leave the Supreme Being aside, and deal with mere mortals. One integral part of living is…making a living. There is no dearth of occupations around the world. From being a doctor, to being the guy who clears your garbage, there are men and women who do anything and everything to earn that 2100 calories a day, that is supposed to keep them running. (The GOI’s given the data, so we dare not dispute)
So, society is made up of people right? It’s us who decide what works in a society and what doesn’t. It’s a power play of the few who have all the money and the many who have the man-power. The irony – they aren’t aware of their power. But I’m digressing. What I wanted to write about was prostitutes, and prostitution.
‘Prostitution,’ as defined by dictionary.com is, “The act or practice of engaging in sex acts for hire.” In general, this profession is seen as one of the most despicable things to engage in. But how many times have we gone to the people who engage in this profession and ask them what do they think of their means of earning their daily bread.
The play, “My Mother, The Gharwali, Her Maalak, His Wife,” is one of those rare plays that explore this profession from the point of view of those who are in it, instead of simply making statements according our personal sentiments. Performed by the prostitutes and their family members, it was a forceful and thought provoking portrayal of ‘one day in the life of a prostitute.’
The Sutradhaar was a 15-year-old prostitute’s daughter. The play looked into how these people regard their profession, not as something that society has forced them to take up, but as something that many of them have taken up on their own free will. One of the points that Anjana Lokurkar (Sharda) made in a post-show discussion was that prostitutes are not to be pitied. She said that they were well off, ready to pay their taxes, and very happy with the kind of life that they led. She repeatedly emphasized that prostitutes had more assertiveness and power over men, as compared to the other women in society.
It was this thought that struck a chord in my mind. The dialogues by Julia Robert’s character in “Pretty Woman” immediately came to mind, “We choose who, we choose when, and we choose how.” Quite a powerful phrase if you keep in mind the numerous cases of women abuse that dominates news these days. It was the same with these women. No one could force them to sleep with anyone. Also, the people for whom they worked (The Gharwali) would take care of them like her won children. In fact this relationship also comes across in the Shyam Benegal’s famous movie Mandi.
But I’m digressing again. Let’s shift to the current debate of legalizing prostitution. Had you asked me my views on the subject pre-play, I would have been dead against it. After watching this play…well…I don’t know!!! I mean, sure the thought of selling your body sounds revolting, but don’t we do worse. Every single day, many of us ‘respectable people’ sell our ideas, our respect, our soul…just so that we can live comfortably. Then what are they doing that is so wrong.
I’m not overlooking the possibility that most prostitutes aren’t exactly in the best of conditions, but is there a possibility that legalizing this profession, might just help these helpless women in-turn? Speaking to several of my relatives, I’ve haven’t found a single one that would give this idea a chance…but does it warrant such outright veto? I don’t know what to think. Hopefully, someday I will…