New Delhi (CBCI News) :It is not just ironical. It is heartbreakingly painful that the National Commission for Women, which was set up to protect and “empower” women, is now proposing to legalize prostitution. According to a newspaper report which appeared on October 30th 2014 the National Commission for Women is recommending that prostitution be legalized in order to prevent trafficking of women. The sheer absurdity of this recommendation does not appear to hit the NCW between the eyes. It were as if the Human Rights Commission were to recommend legalizing violence and murder in order to prevent terrorism. We need to get a clear perspective.
By its Order of August 24th 2011, the Supreme Court of India had directed the National Commission for Women to attend meetings of the Panel which it had set up to examine provisions of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, in the light of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The NCW is now reported to be recommending that prostitution be legalized in order to ‘improve’ the condition of prostitutes. By some outrageous twist of logic, the NCW has come to the conclusion that the condition of prostitutes can be ‘improved’ by legalizing prostitution.
By its (by now, very familiar) involuted thinking, the Times of India (vide editorial “Legalize Sex Work” in its issue of October 30th. 2014) supports the recommendation of the NCW and argues that “Bringing sex work above ground . . . has multiple benefits. Sex workers will have recourse against coercive pimps, traffickers or brothel owners.” The Times of India cites the example of Germany and Holland which have legalized sex work and claims that these countries “do not suffer any perverse social effects on this score.”
The Times of India appears to be arguing that if the Government takes over the job of pimping and owning brothels, the condition of the prostitutes will improve, as the existence of “coercive” pimps and private brothel owners will be eliminated. In effect, the Times of India is advocating for the “nationalization” of the prostitution trade.
What is clearly eluding both the National Commission for Women and the ‘policy makers’ of The Times of India is the fact that prostitution is inherently degrading for women. Whether the practice of selling sex is driven by financial need or by affluent greed, the very fact that a woman sells sex for money is a reprehensible attack against the dignity of the woman. Human sexuality has a very obvious and natural “purpose.” To distract from this purpose is not only dehumanizing; it is also socially harmful. From time immemorial societies have circumscribed the framework within which sexual intercourse is permitted. Sociological and cultural-anthropological research has confirmed that sexual relationship is confined within the institution of marriage and the family. The use of sex outside of marriage and the family has been proven to be destructive both of the family and of society at large.
Women’s Movements are clamouring for salvation from the “commodification” of women which has become so pervasive in modern times. In the face of this movement (and against all rational understanding) the National Commission for Women and The Times of India are proposing to commodify women and reduce them to mere objects of sexual gratification.
Sexuality is, without any doubt, the most sacred expression of a woman’s dignity. That is why even “outraging the modesty of a woman” is socially frowned upon. Motherhood is the natural consequence of sexual activity within the context of marriage and the family. The family is the bedrock of social and political stability. Without family stability there can be no social stability; and without social stability there can be no political stability. The very “integrity” of political and social institutions are dependent on the integrity of the family. The “sexual revolution” of the Fifties and Sixties was an unmitigated catastrophe. We are seeing the social consequences of this “revolution” in the increasing numbers of out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies, abortions, suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and prostitution.
Instead of finding the solutions to these problems by going to the root causes, newspapers like the Times of India are only exacerbating the problems. The influence of the media over policy making cannot be ignored. The National Commission for Women was expected to be more professional and more circumspect in its analyses of the problem of women-in-prostitution and to propose more rational solutions. The inane recommendation being made by the NCW is not only naive; it is also destructive of family life and social equilibrium.
A singularly clumsy argument advanced by The Times of India (in its aforementioned editorial) is that because a social problem cannot be “controlled” by a Government, therefore it should be “legalized.” It cites the example of prohibition. One can conclude from this distorted logic that if the government cannot control or prevent rape, it should “legalize” rape. The ideologues (policy makers) within The Times Group seem to be ignorant of the fact that the State is not the arbiter of morality. The State is only the custodian of Public Order and is required to ensure Public Order and Social Morality by giving legal sanction to the Moral Order. Even if the State cannot “enforce” morality, it has no authority to declare that immorality is moral. Morality is completely beyond the jurisdiction of the State, just as the laws of Nature are beyond the jurisdiction of the State. The State cannot arbitrarily declare that murder is acceptable or that thievery has suddenly become fashionable. All positive laws have to be in conformity with the Natural Law in order to be legitimate. Citizens are exempt from obeying laws which are contrary to the Natural Law. The Constitution of the U.S.A. is unambiguous that only that government is legitimate which is “with the consent” of the governed.
No government can legitimately “legalize” personal or social actions which are contrary to the Natural Law. By asking the Government to legalize prostitution, the National Commission for Women is exceeding its mandate. The Times of India, likewise, has become the mouthpiece of a retrograde and immoral ideology. The idiocy of the stand taken by The Times of India is glaringly evident from its editorial ending: “A practical approach to regulating sex work would yield far better results than the current moralistic one, which merely pushes it out of sight.” The invitation to the Government to intrude into the most intimate world of human sexual relations is as bizarre as it is irrational.
Averthanus L. D’Souza