Print Edition - 2018-09-05 | Oped
Sep 5, 2018-
Whenever I make some radical statement in support of legalising prostitution in Nepal, people regard me as an ultra-liberal modern girl. But I’m a conventional Hindu woman. I detest everything about prostitution: The way it exploits femininity, how it devalues sex, and how often it can spread life threatening diseases. And it’s for all these reasons that I think prostitution should now be legalised and practiced institutionally under government monitoring.
The future of prostitution seems to be bleak in Nepal. Our society does not accept the profession because society regards it as a filthy and immoral act. Despite being illegal, prostitution is thriving under the nose of the government. It is estimated that there are more than 30,000 sex workers in the Kathmandu Valley. Many young girls work in cabin restaurants and dance bars in Kathmandu, and they are exploited physically and mentally at their workplace. When bar owners get fed up with their appearance, they are replaced by other young and beautiful faces. The older ones are replaced by newer ones, and this process goes on continuously.
No woman grows up dreaming of being a prostitute. In most countries, there is no moral or legal respect for the ‘world’s oldest profession’. Today, many nations still criminalise the practice while others allow it in specific locations or definite circumstances. New Zealand legalised prostitution as a profession in 2003. After legalisation, a study done by the Christchurch School of Medicine found that 90 percent of the sex workers believed that they have got health and safety rights, 64 percent found it easier to refuse clients and 57 percent noticed positive changes in police behaviour.
There are lots of moral fundamentalists who find it hard to accept the reality that sex workers are just ordinary women who mostly make this choice under obligation to fulfil their daily needs. If a sex worker wants to rent out her body in exchange for money, that’s her right. And according to law, everyone has free choice of employment without hurting others. “What makes prostitution a ‘victimless crime’, in the sense that no one is necessarily harmed by it, is that there are consenting adults involved,” said Sherry F Colb of Rutgers Law School.
This is 2018. The rest of the world is talking about #Me Too, and we are still hesitating to get deprived girls out of the moral shadow and into the legal light where they can also get the privilege to exercise their human rights. The Nepal government must consider that organisations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations call for the same. Like me, these organisations urge the decriminalisation of prostitution which ultimately will make prostitution safer, improve public health and decrease exploitation of women.
Published: 05-09-2018 07:46