Respect and dignity are things for a person that can never be compromised at any stage of life. Creating one’s identity in life revolves around culminating one’s ethics, values, dignity, and notions of life. Taking away someone’s dignity and not respecting an individual is a boundary that, when crossed, leaves an insufficient or imbalanced dent in humanity. Respecting and dignifying a human being should never revolve around their status or profession. Still, it’s what everyone deserves, and no individual has the right to take that away from them.
One such job where the respect and value of a person are neglected and considered not necessary is that of a sex worker, or the work of prostitution. Prostitution is sex conducted for income rather than pleasure; it is mercenary or commercial sex—sex as work. However, the term “prostitution” does not only refer to commercial sex; it also has a strong negative connotation that reflects current Western society’s disapproval of the activity (and other societies’ as well).
Those who do not wish to be associated with this condemnation, including many prostitutes, began to refer to their employment as “sex work.” Although it may be more applicable in some situations, it cannot be used in place of the older term in any discussion involving judgement and accuracy. These are just a few reasons why sex workers rarely opt to engage in sex on their own volition.
However, many people see sex work as a way to make ends meet when unemployed or having financial troubles. Like Alice Little, the highest-paid sex worker in the United States, others willingly choose to practise selling sex. As a result, today’s sex workers have a detailed view of what it means to work in the industry. Female sex workers’ demographics were compared to the demographics of women in general. FSWs from the street, at home, and in brothels made up a total of 5010 (75.4%), 1499 (22.5%), and 139 (2.1%), respectively.
In some ways, because many people are concerned about health issues such as AIDS, STDS, and others that will affect the population, people in some places where proper sex education is not provided are concerned about the lack of it and the impact it will have on society.
Prostitution, according to anti-prostitution feminists, is a form of female exploitation and male supremacy over women, as well as a practise that is a product of the prevailing patriarchal social order. According to these feminists, prostitution has a harmful impact on both prostitutes and society as a whole because it fosters stereotypical ideas of women as sex objects who may be used and mistreated by men. Pro-prostitution Feminists believe that prostitution and other forms of sex work can be legitimate options for women and men. Prostitution, in this opinion, must be distinguished from forced prostitution, and feminists should support sex worker action against sex business and legal system abuses.
But with all the pros or cons, some things regarding the way sex workers are seen and the stigma attached to them are beyond the profession itself. It’s about humans and their identity.
The stigmatisation of sex work permeates all aspects of society, with it being viewed as a source of shame, social disgrace, or tarnished identity. The way sex work is seen in the eyes of the law may be the basis of this stigmatization. Derogatory terms like “prostitutes,” “hookers,” and “whores” are regularly used to describe sex workers in the media, politics, and even research papers. Physical assault against sex workers is standard, as are other human rights breaches.
In legal regimes that allow prostitution, sex workers must undergo screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, obtain a licence, pay inflated taxes on their businesses, and be monitored. When it comes to renting apartments, job hunting, divorce proceedings including custodial care, and accessing specific services, sex workers are frequently discriminated against. Street-based sex workers are harassed, detained, and occasionally attacked in places such as London, Canberra, and Tokyo for appearing to be selling sex. With so many stigmas, debates, arguments, stereotypes, and at least one lost respect, a revolutionary victory for humanity was seen when the Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, declared prostitution to be a profession and directed police officers to treat sex workers with respect and provide them with equal legal protection. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court said, “Prostitution is a profession, and all sex workers are entitled to respect and equal protection under the law.”
In addition, the Supreme Court has advised police not to prosecute consensual sex workers. India is one of the top five countries for prostitution, and a Supreme Court panel chaired by Justice L. Nageswara Rao emphasised that voluntary sex work is not criminal. The Supreme Court heard a petition highlighting the hardships that sex workers have endured due to the COVID-19 outbreak and requested redress for nearly nine lakh women and transgender sex workers across India.
According to India Today, the police have been ordered to take action and respect the law whenever a sex worker files a criminal, sexual, or other form of complaint. According to the court, criminal law must be administered according to age and consent. Because prostitution is not illegal in India, but running a brothel is, the Bench ruled that when a brothel is raided, voluntary sex workers should not be punished or mistreated.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court has ordered that the government consult with sex workers or their representatives before making any policy choices, including planning, devising, and implementing any policy or program for sex workers or drafting any changes to sex work legislation.
No kid or sex worker should be taken from their mother just because they work in the sex business, according to the court. If a sex worker is sexually assaulted, she must be given access to all of the resources available to victims of sexual assault in India. Finally, the Supreme Court has ordered that governments conduct public awareness campaigns and educate sex workers on their rights, the legality of their profession, police obligations, and what is prohibited and permitted by law.
“Samaaj mein insaan ki tarah jeene ka haq mein lekar hi rahungi,” a famous dialogue from a recent Bollywood movie gangubai kathiawadi based on the life of sex workers, is a revolutionary turn by Bollywood which made its impact and this is the kind of support and understanding that is required amongst people to understand the struggle and choices behind the life of a sex worker and what rights they deserve as human beings and this movie is no less than a reality check for the people and an insight to the struggles.
This judgment by the supreme court not alone brought tears of happiness but also brought the joy of humanity and the lawfully earned dignity and respect, which was long overdue for the sex workers. A person should not be judged or form stereotypes based on their employment, but should be seen as the ethics and values a person demonstrates. The stigma regarding the identity and weight of the workers needed to end, and this judgement was just the thing required.
Still, there are a lot of places in the world where sex workers haven’t gotten the respect and dignity as human beings yet. Still, this judgement is a ray of hope to all those people around the globe to stick with themselves and their courage to get what they deserve lawfully and with full pride, as the lifestyle chosen by someone is what makes them who they are, and no one can take their choices away.
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