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  • Who will save them from Sexual Slavery?

    Published on March 14, 2013

    Child Sex Workers Waiting for Clients

    By  Sidharthan

    This is heartbreaking.  Over 2.7 million children are involved in prostitution in India. According to a latest report over 30% of the estimated 9 million prostitutes in the country are children below the age of 16. About 40,000 children are pushed into flesh trade every year in India, reports suggest.

    Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research on human rights says, there are approximately 15 million prostitutes in India.

    Speaking in a seminar on human trafficking in the month of May 2009 the then CBI chief had said that over 1.2 million children were believed to be involved in prostitution in India. In January 2010, while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan the Supreme Court observed that  India  was “becoming a hub” for largescale child prostitution rackets.  The Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik further asked Solicitor General to examine the idea of setting up a special investigating agency to combat child prostitution rackets.

    In Mumbai, the economic capital of the country, children as young as 9 years of age are sold in flesh trade. This is because a girl between 10 and 12 years fetches the highest price in flesh trade.  (According to a rough estimate the red light district in Mumbai generates at least 5000  crore  rupees per annum in revenue, with 250000 prostitutes serving 365 days a year, at the average rate of 6 customers per day.)

    Interestingly, in India, prostitution (exchanging sex for money) is not illegal, but the surrounding activities like operating brothels, pimping, and soliciting sex are punishable under the law. However, sex with a minor girl is punishable. The law says anyone having sex with a minor girl below the age of 16 years would face rape charges. The consent of the girl is immaterial (Section 375(e) of Indian Penal Code).

    Section 366A, IPC, dealing with procuration of a minor girl elaborates “whoever, by any means whatsoever, induces any minor girl under the age of 18 years to go from any place or to do any act with intent that such girl may be, or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

    The laws may be stringent, but prostitution, particularly child prostitution is thriving unhindered.  Though prostitution is declared legal operating brothels, pimping, soliciting are punishable.. Brothel-owners can be prosecuted and punished from 1 to 3 years imprisonment with fine for first offence. Detaining someone at a brothel for the purpose of sexual exploitation can lead to prosecution and the punishment could be imprisonment of more than 7 years. Interestingly the existence of large number of brothels in major cities including the national capital is operating with the tacit knowledge of the law enforcing agencies.

    Similarly under the existing law a client, if he engages in sexual acts with a sex worker within 200 yards of a public place or “notified area”, could be awarded imprisonment of up to 3 months. If the sex worker is below 18 years of age the client may also be sentenced up to 10 years of imprisonment.

    The women lawmakers fighting for their rights and benefits both within and outside the House hardly are seen leading any serious campaign for the liberation of these children from the clutches of flush traders. The so called progressive women oragnisations are hardly found advocating for these sexually exploited little souls. Women chapters of front line political parties have little interest in the issues of these deprived and sexually abused children. The organizations trumpeting support for women empowerment turn a blind eye to this gruesome sexual exploitation of the young little girl children.