Friday, 20 February, 2009

Hitting at Prostitution - Using Law to do the same

Read this thought provoking article by lawyer and activist Catherine MacKinnon on how a change in law will impact fight against Prostitution.

About Catharine MacKinnon

MacKinnon was born into an upper-middle class family in Minnesota.

MacKinnon was the valedictorian of her high school and thereafter became the third generation of her family to attend her mother's alma mater, Smith College. She graduated at the top 2% of her class at Smith and moved on to receive her J.D. and Ph.D. from Yale University. She was the recipient of a National Science Foundation fellowship while at Yale Law School

MacKinnon is the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. She is also currently serving as the Roscoe Pound Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

MacKinnon argues that prostitution and pornography are both attacks on women. She advocates (amongst others) legal approach to fight the same.

In her book, Are Women Human?, she writes:

“If women were humans, would we be a cash crop shipped from Thailand in containers into New York brothels?…

Would we be burned when our dowry money wasn’t enough, when men tired of us, starved as widows when our husbands died (if we survived the funeral pyre).”

In the interview, whose link I have provided, she speaks for modifying a clause in the Indian law governing prostitution.

You are currently in India to canvas support for an amendment of 5C of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act which, if passed, will decriminalise the prostitute and instead criminalise the client.

The real criminals are those who buy these women 20-30 times a day. We need to take the views of the prostitutes and turn these views into real law. This is the method I have used for the past 35 years. We need to understand the reality of sexual violence and recognise that this is a criminal act.

These women must be given a real choice......

......... the women I spoke to in my interactions in West Bengal and Bihar spoke about how they wanted to educate their daughters and were sending them to boarding schools. There was a real determination in them to do something else in order to escape their present profession. That is why I have been telling these women that their children must be given access to education. They also want real police protection which their entire community is being denied.

How will the removal of 5C of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act change the situation?

The removal of 5C will decriminalise the prostitute and instead criminalise the client.

This will immediately reduce the number of people visiting them.

Bharat's note: In an earlier post, I also suggested Government / Civil society creating online record of clients caught with prostitutes, with smiling photographs to shame people.

I expect that it will produce an 80% and more drop. Buyers are the engines that drive prostitution. We need to criminalise the buyers. Prostitution is male violence against women. Gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.

This has been done in Sweden which now has the lowest trafficking rate in Europe. I have been insisting (through my writings and lectures) that legalisation of prostitution will not solve the problem of prostitution.

People seem to believe that once this industry is legalised, the police will be able to handle the situation. But this is not the case.

Mass legitimisation in this country (India) will see an entire illegal industry explode under it.

This has happened in the Netherlands, Germany and Australia. People seem to forget that women do not want to be part of this legal industry. They do not want to be in it forever. They do not want to put their real names on a medical card; they do not want to give up on themselves.

Wherever prostitution has been legalized, the traffickers have increased. The industry begins to make huge profits and the poor are then trafficked and used in order to service the rich.

Then why is the Left / Liberal / English media promoting legalizing of Prostitution

The Times of India and Hindustan Times (its copy cat clone) have been a single point panacea. Legalize Prostitution.

Look at just two articles below, Google more and you would find many more.

Know Why ??

Advertising Revenues.

That is why.

That is why both these newspapers continue to publish advertisements for "Massage Parlours".

It is my estimation that on the basis of number of prostitution hook ups that they facilitate, the biggest Pimps in India are Times of India and Hindustan Times.

Action Point:

Mail Sumir Chadha, a director on the board of Times Group, representing Sequoia Capital Ventures Fund.

His email id is

Mail him to tell that you feel that the Massage Parlour advertisements in the Times of India should be stopped. That Times of India can do without money which promotes prostitution.

More likely to cause action than talking to Vineet Jain.

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