Empowerment: The way forward

Economic empowerment of women is the need of the hour if we really want to progress and uplift our society. The most derogatory symbol for this need is prostitution and this blog will focus on this menace.

In a recent RTI reply, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has stated that there are a whopping 6,88,751 “registered” sex workers in the country and it’s not mandatory for them to have a health certificate on sexually transmitted diseases. This should send alarm bells ringing as unprotected paid sex is the main driver of the HIV epidemic in India. And if you believe Naco, the total number of sex workers in the country is almost double, 1.26 million!!!  And no brownie points for guessing that all these are WOMEN.

In most cases, women turn to prostitution due to financial troubles. So, over 1 million women in the country had to become sex workers as they were unable to maintain themselves/families with other jobs? This is a serious issue to ponder upon. Men do not have to turn to this profession, so where is gender equality. Also when people go out blaming these women for spreading HIV, they forget that there were men involved too, as ‘customers’.

The reply reveals that the southern states have the largest number of sex workers, at least on government records. Andhra Pradesh leads the list with more than one lakh registered female sex workers while Karnataka has 79,000. These two states are followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Among the metros, Delhi leads the list. Though the capital has only one known red light area, GB Road, there are 37,900 sex workers — more than those in India’s financial capital, Mumbai.

Meanwhile, the annual report (2009-10) of the health ministry’s Aids control department states that India has the third largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS — 22.7 lakh, as per the provisional HIV estimates of 2008-09. The report says though sex workers are 0.5% of adult female population, they account for 7% of HIV-infected women. “Men who buy sex are the single most powerful driving force in India’s HIV epidemics and constitute the largest infected population group in the country,” the report adds.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stephenpaterson
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 04:18:23

    Are you saying that no women in India choose to be sex workers, or that sex workers are not empowered? Then why not seek to empower your sex workers? History would seem to indicate that this might be an easier solution to your problem than trying to eliminate “prostitution.”

    Studies in the west have shown a remarkably low rate of sexually transmitted infection among sex workers as most are aware of the risks of STIs and take necessary precautions. Furthermore, mandatory testing has proved counterproductive – in Germany, for example, more sex workers got tested when the tests were made voluntary.


    • Being an Indian Woman
      Jul 22, 2010 @ 11:38:18

      Financial compulsion is a major reason for women to enter prostitution. Empowering sex workers is a different issue all together and is being worked on by various government bodies/NGOs.
      All I am saying here that we need to empower our women in general and discussed prostitution as one of the factors affecting women. Financial empowerment will also lead to empowering them about other issues, including health issues, etc.


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