Sex Work as a ‘Profession’ and the Challenges

2nd June every year, this day is celebrated as “INTERNATIONAL SEX WORKERS DAY” – to honor sex work profession

Aradhya Dixit, Fourth year BLS – LLB student from Mumbai University, has written this article explaining Sex Work as a ‘Profession’ and the Challenges


Prostitution has existed in India for centuries. It has gained a lot of supporters for it to be made a normal profession without any stigma and social interference. In India, prostitution rackets are run on large scale and this is often linked to trafficking and sexual abuse by men. The prostitutes involved are victim to societal taboo. There is no protection or any kind of security in this profession, whereas all prostitutes are always disapproved of, marginalized and even exploited. The study further examines that on 2nd June every year, this day is celebrated as “INTERNATIONAL SEX WORKERS DAY” – to honor sex work profession and concedes that how often they are neglected and exploited. This day is when the Saint Nizier- Church in Lyon, France, were more than two hundred prostitutes assembled to seek the importance of their life in connection with their profession and to convey world how they are humiliated in every walk of life. This article narrates the real time problems faced by the prostitution in their day-to-day life and how they overcome everyday with same challenges to be faced again.

Keywords: Sex Worker, Prostitution, Call Girl.


In our society sex work has always been criticized and is regarded as the profession worthy of disgrace, though in today’s time there are millions of women that are involved in consensual sex then to it is not accepted in our society a dignified profession, it has always seen as a work which is immoral and degrading to woman. But if in our society sex work is recognized and regulated just like any other profession and sex workers are given the same rights and respect as workers of any other field, it has the power to be a profession that is empowering for women or to people of any other gender that are engaged in this field. Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees that everyone will have equal protection under the laws of the country. But the plight of these sex workers compels me to believe that they do not see equality and are not accepted by society. The sex industry and its workers have always been condemned by a society that follows the Puritan ideal of “morality”. In addition to this forced prostitution and sex trafficking need to be eliminated and sex work as a profession should be regulated by the same occupational safety and health regulations offered to workers in other labor industries.


Prostitution in India is the one of the crimes that is prevalent since ages and is considered as one of the oldest among all. Generally speaking, it is a misconception and misconception that prostitution is illegal in India, but it is illegal to pimp, own, and trade in prostitution. In ancient times, there was Devdasi system among prominent Hindus, it was a practice to give their daughters to temples to dance, remember and chant God’s name and worship God, some famous Devdasi named Urvashi, Rambha, Menka, and Renuka et al. But when feudalism collapsed and reforms came, the so-called Devdasis lost their guardians and protectors and were mismanaged and mistreated by the priests and landowner. This is the oldest form of prostitution that flourished when the Britishers flourished  in India.


Generally, prostitutes can be classified on the basis of their ‘modus operandi’ which is as follows:

Brothel Prostitutes:

Their operations are carried out in the brothel which is owned by an ex

– prostitutes. This brothel is a shelter to the prostitutes which in turn provide all their basic necessity i.e., only food, clothing and shelter. The prostitutes work for a commission based on her sexual service. The main amount is given to the owner of the brothel and the prostitutes receive only a nominal amount for the time spends with the client in turn of flesh trade.

Call Girl Prostitutes:

They generally operate independently from their place. They are available directly or solicit customers through middlemen generally known as “pimp”. Here the prostitutes work on solemn identity and as commission gives an amount to the pimp for bringing them a client. They can also be at higher level, living lavish standard of living known as “escorts”. Unlike, normal prostitutes, this call girl prostitutes demand in lakhs of Rupees from their clients.

Street Prostitutes:

This type solicits customers on the streets and takes the customer to a place of assignation. These types of prostitutes work independently and have good records with the red-light areas where they can share specific place/resident for their clients.

Other Types:

Clandestine forms of prostitution are also found in bar, massage parlors, amusement centers, dance clubs etc. again they work independently and start earning as side business to carry out expenses of their family members and to enjoy their livelihood.


We are living in today’s 21st century, where not only women can be termed as prostitutes but there are also male and transgender prostitutes, who are working and satisfying the needs of their respective clients. Since the concept of LGBTQ is emerging, the wants of satisfaction and the demands for the same is at stake. Male prostitutes are known as “GIGOLO” in normal terms and usage and are next level to female prostitutes called “ESCORTS”, they are highly paid male prostitutes.



stated that-

– “Clause (2) however permits the State to impose compulsory services for public purposes provided that in making so it shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them. ‘Traffic in human beings’ means selling and buying men and women like goods and includes immoral traffic in women and children for immoral” or other purposes.”


The facts were that it was within the powers of the commissioner to notify the area around those places of religious worship and educational institutions under Section 17 (1)(b) rendering activity of prostitution an offence under section 7(1) of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1965. It was contended that the right to carry on prostitution is a fundamental right of women and girls involved in it


The Supreme Court on February 2011 ruled out that sex workers has a right to dignity under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.

“We are of the view that sex workers have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 [right to life] of the Constitution since they are also human beings and their concerns need to be addressed,” Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra wrote in their decision on February 14, 2011.

“Voluntary sex is not illegal,” the Supreme Court said in its decision. A three-judge panel led by Judge L Nageswara Rao has also issued guidelines to protect the rights and dignity of sex workers.

The Supreme Court’s explanation on the subject is as follows:

  1. Women workers have the right to equal protection. The law should be applied equally in all cases according to age and consent.
  2. When a prostitute complains of a crime, sex offense or other crime, the police should take it seriously and act accordingly.
  3. When a hotel is searched, only working in a hotel is illegal because organised sex work as a profession is illegal, sex workers should not be arrested or punished, harmed or injured.
  4. Government should involve gender workers and/or representatives in all decision-making, including in the planning, formulation and implementation of gender-related policies or programs, or the development of gender-based legal reforms.
  5. Children of sex workers should not be separated from their mothers because their mothers are engaged in sex trade.
  6. The court ruled that the media should not publish photos or promote themselves while reporting on the rescue operation, saying that if workers post sex pictures of sex workers with sex workers, they should be punished under the Indian Penal Code.
  7. A sex worker who is a victim of sexual violence should have access to all facilities available to victims of sexual violence, including emergency medical assistance.
  8. The police should treat all sex workers with respect and not harass them. , verbally and physically hurting them or forcing them to have sex.
  9. The measures taken by sex workers to protect their own health and safety (using condoms, etc.) will not be considered illegal and will not be considered as evidence of the crime.
  10. The state should hold meetings to educate sex workers on their rights, the legality of sex work, the rights and responsibilities of law enforcement officers, and what the law allows or prohibits.


├ Procuration of Minor girls (section 366-A IPC).

├ Importation of Girls (Section-366-B IPC).

├ Selling of Girls for prostitution (Section-372 IPC).

├ Buying of Girls for Prostitution (Section-373 IPC).

├ Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act 1956.

├ Child Marriage Retrain Act, 1929.


In the Indian context, prostitution is not explicitly illegal and immoral and though pronounced and acted to be unethical by the Court, certain acts that facilitate and enhance the need for prostitution are regarded as illegal and acts like managing a brothel, living off the money procured by means of prostitution, soliciting or luring a person into prostitution, traffic of children and women for the purpose of prostitution, etc. are made explicitly illegal by the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA). For example, running a sex racquet is illegal but private prostitution or receiving remuneration in exchange for sex with consent without prior solicitation is not illegal.

In addition, Article 23(1) of the Constitution prohibits traffic in human beings and beggars and other similar forms of forced labor. Article 23(2) declares that any contravention of this provision shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.


Will life ever get back to normal? As COVID-19 continues to spread and enhance even today after the most of the population is vaccinated, it’s a question that omit all sectors of society but perhaps SEX WORKERS most of all live with the fear of being pushed backed and dragged furtherinto the shadows in an age of social distancing darkening their present and clouding the future.Eating one day a meal, going hungry the next, their children turfed out of school because of lack of devices needed for online education and unable to make rent, the year 2020-21have been a nightmare and there is no picture of getting an end to the survivors. When the lockdown happened, each and every community was affected.

The government took care about all and offered them some form of relief but there has been nothing for the prostitutes. It’s about immediate relief but also revival for a line of work that involves physical proximity and may have led to social stigma but also a livelihood on which their families depend. On the other hand, prostitutes requested to sanitize their premises, they also started using new technologies to serve their clients but since this is a flesh trade, it did not work much and the prostitutes werevery badly affected.


Refusing for Payment: Most of the prostitutes expressed their experiences that customers refused to make payment after having sex with them. Prostitutes also complaint that they worked accordingly to satisfy every want of their customers but even after that they were refused for the pay which customers have promised to pay.

Forcefully Abusive Acts: Most of the Call Girls enunciated that they were compelled to do abusive acts against their will. Some customers without even asking forcefully carry out abusive acts. Some customers treat these prostitutes as animals.

Threaten to Children’s Death: Some women even wanted to switch from this profession but were threatened from customers that their children’s lives shall be in danger and forced to remain as per their whims and pleasure.


Unwanted Pregnancy and Abortion: Many Prostitutes said that unwanted pregnancy is a major issue since customers refuse to use protection. Most of Prostitutes had been faced unwanted pregnancy at least once in this profession. Many Prostitutes in this profession walked in a path for Abortion as the only solution.

Drug Addiction: Call Girls often gets addicted to smoking, alcohol etc., as the only way to come out of this everyday every time humiliation.

Ovarian Issues: Rigorous Sex highlighted ovarian issues and which in turn leads to cervical cancer.

Some other Diseases: Other diseases like stomach problems, headache, hepatitis, blood pressure, menstruation issues, breathing issues, liver pain and some psychological issues for instance, depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, rage etc.


Work that is inherently exploitative never empowers. “Some argue that this ‘profession’ can be empowering and that legalizing and regulating all aspects of prostitution will mitigate the harms that accompany it. However, I cannot accept a political prescription that codifies such a pernicious form of violence against women. Normalizing the act of buying sex also demeans men by assuming that they have a right to access women’s bodies for sexual gratification. If paying for sex were to become normalized, then every person paying for sex would assume that prostitutes are commodities to be bought and sold and that are human in nature.

Prostitution is not a fairy tale and being human, we cannot just normalize something that destroys lives and is exploitative in nature. The point is that the inside of a person’s body should never be seen as a workplace, and one cannot create the illusion that prostitution is a voluntary and desirable occupation when statistics show that most girls engage in prostitution before they are of age. agreement. There are 3 million commercial sex workers in India alone, of which an estimated 40% are children, according to a study by India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development. In other words, their first sexual interactions are rapes. Another myth is that most women and girls choose to enter the sex industry. While this is true for a small number of sex workers, research shows that for the vast majority of women and girls, this is a very limited option. Viewing prostitution as a real “choice” for women, like secretarial work or waitressing, ultimately diminishes the ability to get women out and improve their lives.

The harsh reality is that prostitution and sex trafficking constitute a harmful, pervasive, illegal and violent criminal industry involving pimps and traffickers who are linked to gangs, drugs and violence.


Having sex jobs doesn’t mean its good work, incentive work, or bad work. But sex work as a profession itself does not cause harm, but crime and stigma caused by sex do cause problems in certain situations.

Like most workers, sex workers have different perspectives on their jobs. Some sex workers do not like their job but see it as the best or only option to earn a living. Some people know nothing about their job but find it flexible or well-paid.

Some people love work and find it rewarding or fun. No matter how gender workers view their jobs, they deserve workplace health and safety and human rights.


  • Khan, A., & Singh, R. (2022, May 22). Legal aspects related to prostitution in India.
  • iPleaders. Retrieved from https://blog.ipleaders.in/legal-aspects-related-toprostitution- in-india/
  • Of Veshyas, Vamps, Whores and Women. (n.d.), 1(3).
  • AIR 1953 Cal. 522
  • 2004 (2) XLV (2) G.L.R. 1764
  • Protecting the Right of Sex Workers: The Indian Experience. Published in Sexuality, Gender        and        Rights.        Sage        Publications,        New        Delhi, 2005.


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