Christian Ethical Response Towards Commercial Sex Workers
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The UN AIDS Inter-Agency Task Team on Gender and HIV/AIDS, in its fact sheet “HIV/AIDS, Gender and Sex Work,” published in its 2005 Resource Pack on Gender and HIV/AIDS, stated as follows with their own way of understanding by presenting a broad definition “A broad definition of sex work would be: ‘the exchange of money or goods for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally, involving female, male, and transgender adults, young people and children where the sex worker may or may not consciously define such activity as income-generating’. There is a widespread view that occasional engagement in transactional sex, or sexual barter, constitutes ‘sex work’. Sex work may be formal or informal. In some instances, sex work is only a temporary informal activity. Women and men who have occasional commercial sexual transactions or where sex is exchanged for food, shelter or protection (survival sex) would not consider them to be linked with formal sex work. Occasional sex work takes place where sex is exchanged for basic, short-term economic needs and this is less likely to be a formal, full-time occupation. Commercial sex work may be conducted in formally organized settings from sites such as brothels, nightclubs, and massage parlors; or more informally by commercial sex workers who are street based or self-employed.”
The History of Prostitution
The commercial sex worker has been known universally throughout the civilization and ages as prostitute. Prostitution is the so-called “Oldest Profession”. The earliest known record of prostitution appears in ancient Mesopotamia. It is shocking to note that the licensed brothels exist in Solon, Greece in around 550 B.C.
The History of Prostitution in India
The Indian Vedas, say it is an organized, established and necessary institution in Puranas and Vishnu Samhita literature. Around 6th Century, the practice of dedicating the girls for Hindu gods became prevalent and this practice lead to ritualized prostitution, it is known as devadasi system. Devadasi literally means, Dev means god and Dasi means female servant. The system of devadasi started only after the fall of Buddhism and records about them appearing around 1000 A.D. [Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosh, IV, 448]. The Buddhist nuns were degraded by the Brahmins and considered them as prostitutes. According to 1934 Devadasi Security Act, this practice is banned in India. In 1980’s the same system took its heights, though the Government of Karnataka in 1982 and Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1988 declared it as illegal. The practice still prevailed in 10 districts of north Karnataka and 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh. These districts are bordering Maharashtra, which were known as Devadasis belt.
Vatsyayana’s Kama sutra and Kautilya in his Arthashastra describes the details of various types of prostitutes, rules of conduct and the roles played by the customer, pimp and the brothel-keeper, and the income made by pimps and brothel-keepers, since second and fourth centuries (A.C.E).
During the time of British also there were brothels. The Mughal Empire (1526 – 1857) also witnessed prostitution. India is home to Asia’s largest red-light district – Mumbai’s Kamathipura, stands at the top list. And other metropolitan cities were in line for the up rise of prostitution. Among the most of the cities in the present day Hyderabad and the secunderabad are the places giving a high range of opportunities for running hi-tech sex rackets.
The History of Hyderabad and Secunderabad
The history of Hyderabad begins when Quli Qutub Shah took in the custody of the rule of Bahamani Kingdom in 1512, and established the Qutb Shahi dynasty. He constructed the fortress city of Golconda. Quli Qutub Shah was forced to establish new city named Charminar, because at Golconda there was a problem of inadequacy of water, and frequent epidemics of plague and cholera. So, for that reason he established Charminar at its centre with four great roads leading out to four prime directions. Hyderabad’s fame, strategic location and Golconda’s legendary wealth attracted Aurangazeb who captured Golconda after a long seize in 1686.
Abul Hasan Tana Shah was imprisoned at Daulatabad, after twelve years in captivity he died and he was known as the last king of Golconda. Then Aurangzeb succeeded in expanding the Mughal Empire by conquesting the Deccan and the South. However, after his death in 1707, the Empire rapidly declined. In 1724, Mir Qamar-ud-Din Siddiqi, was granted the title of Nizam-ul-Muk (meaning Administrator of the Realm) by the Mughal emperor as viceroy on condition that he should carry the task to administer Mughal empire in behalf of the emperor. He occasionally ruled under the title of Asaf Jah and defeated a rival official in order to establish control over Hyderabad. During this time, viceroys and governors of Hyderabad have gained a considerable independence from the seat of power at Delhi and, when the Mughal Empire finally crumbled down in the mid 18th century, the young Asaf Jah declared himself independent and the dynasty of the Nizams was established. The Nizam’s of the Asif Jahi dynasty ruled the Deccan.
During the Asif Jahi period, Persian, Urdu, Telugu and Marathi developed simultaneously. The highest official positions were given to deserving persons irrespective of their religion. Hyderabad became a major capital city, ruled by successive seven Nizams of the Asaf Jahi dynasty for nearly 224 years. The British stationed a Resident at Hyderabad, but the state continued to be ruled by the Nizam. The rule of the seven Nizam’s saw the growth of Hyderabad both culturally and economically. Then huge reservoirs, like the Nizam Sagar, Tungabadra, Osman Sagar, Himayath Sagar, and others were built. Survey work on Nagarjuna Sagar had also begun during this time. Hyderabad, under the Nizam’s, was the largest princely state in India. Area wise it was as big as England and Scotland put together. The State had its own currency, mint, railways, and postal system. There was no income tax. Soon after India gained independence, Hyderabad State merged with the Union of India in 1948. On November 1, 1956 the map of India was redrawn into linguistic states, and Hyderabad became the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
Secunderabad is located six miles away to the northeast of Hyderabad, but were in connection and was just separated by a manmade lake which was built by Qutub Shahis during the 16th century. These two cities were known as “Twin Cities”. Secunderabad is often called the twin of Hyderabad; because its history runs parallel to that of Hyderabad, with some scholars claiming that its origin was technically established back to the time when Hyderabad was formed. In 1798, a supplementary alliance for military and political cooperation was signed between the Nizam and the British East India Company. There after Hussain Sagar which was known popularly today was established as a cantonment. The area was named Secunderabad after the then Nizam, Sikander Jah.
From the time of nawabs, pearls were the popular business at ‘Twin Cities’ and the Sensex is to the world’s hi-tech happening point, the city’s journey is fascinating. Persian was the official language up to 1893 and then Urdu up to 1948. When the British and the French spread their hold over the country, the Nizam soon won their friendship without handing down their power. The title “Faithful, Ally of the British Government” was conferred on Nizam VII. Hyderabad and Secunderabad cities shared the same airport until early 2008. In spite of the close connections between the two, though, both cities have a different fusion of cultures, with Secunderabad having fully developed under a direct British rule while Hyderabad has been a princely state since its commencement.
Like Hyderabad, the culture and religion in Secunderabad are mixed, owing to the various groups of people coming from all the major states of India. Christians have a stronger presence here with St. Mary’s Church, the biggest parish in both cities, located in Secunderaband. Famous churches and cathedrals are also found throughout the city, as well as many Christian education institutions. A large number of the population is Tamilians (or Mudaliars) and they have managed to maintain their distinct identity across the centuries. Secunderabad holds one of the chief British military stations in India and as of now is the headquarters of the 9th Division of the Southern Army. It also includes Bolaram, the former military station of the Hyderabad contingent which has now been merged in the Indian army, and Trimulgherry, the artillery military station that, today, is now a well-developed suburban part of the city. In 2007, Secunderabad celebrated its 200th year of formation.
The History of Prostitution in Hyderabad and Secunderabad
Hyderabad city has a vast history which was ruled by the kings. The city has a kind of legend which is proved as right after many years of investigation. The history or legend gives the idea of how the prostitution was prevailing in the city. Hyderabad was originally known as Bhagyanagar, this was named after by the great king of Golconda named Sultan Muhammad Quli. The king was in love with a Hindu girl named Bhagyamati who stay near by a village. The king fell in love with her and calls her Chenchulam (Sweet Heart) and wants to meet her every day. One day the king has to cross the Muse River, but the river was over flowing. Then his father Ibrahim Qutub Shah came to know this and ordered to built a bridge and made the damsel accessible to the king seven days. The construction of the bridge was completed in 1578.
The king had married Bhagyamati legally; most of the historian says that she was also one among the Hindu girls who though legally wedded to the Kings and Nobles, Mughal historians considered them as Courtesans, mistresses and prostitutes. And there was a story that one day Chenchulam was struck up in a storm and there was cyclone. The damsel was missing and the king’s heart was throbbing for the damsel. By observing this the king’s father brought many beautiful girls from Armenia, Persia, Arab and other parts of India to entertain the king. At last Bhagyamati was found and the city was named as Bhagynagar around 1590. The poet-king had pet names for all his 17 damsels who were at his call to the Hydermahal. This was mentioned in his own book, ‘Kulliyath’, which was the pet name of Bhagyamati. Through this it is very evident that prostitution was live and had a high swing which paved a way for the next generations to carry out the profession. In the history was Secunderabad it is found, because most of the British Colonizers were away from the home land and they had commercial sex workers to fulfill their desires. In the present day, the twin cities was a hub for the technological growth, considering this as a good advantage many women choose commercial sex work as the easiest way to make money and were trying to loot the people who are sex starved.
Types of Prostitution
The historical study on prostitution and commercial sex work give out that there are various kinds or types of commercial sex. The mode of prostitution or the commercial sex is not the same in every region. It is based on the cultural, physical, psychological, emotional, societal and political appraisal (evaluation). Basing on that some of the types of commercial sex workers in brief are noticed as follows.
Cage Girls in Pillow Houses
The girls who are trafficked from various places are used as commercial sex workers in worst brothels are called “pillow houses”, where prostitutes are separated by “cloth dividers in tiny rooms”. Visitors are charged Rupees 150 – 200 for a few minutes, and strict vigil is maintained to discourage prostitutes from talking to their customers. And there is no point of escape, because it is a large network. In this network there are links with the pimps, brothel owners and local police too. Here the girls are mostly illiterate or smuggled from different places to the city.
The girls are much commercialized and mostly one can find the educated and working women as call girls. They are well groomed and carry cell phones. They are not like the sex workers at brothels. The pay for a call girl is very high. The call girls take good care of their health; they often visit doctor for regular health check up. The call girls will not prefer condom free sex unless they are paid in high terms and on certain conditions. The clients prefer oral sex to vaginal intercourse. Some of the call girls who are from the upper – middle class were aware of AIDS and reject clients who refuse to use condom.
The girls are used to escort mostly the business people and they are hired from women’s colleges, fashion and film industry. These girls are paid highly even more than a call girl. Today they introduce themselves with boom in internet, websites and openly advertising escort girl services. Sex is found very rear in this category. Escort girls will never have condom free sex. Escort girls and their clients prefer only oral sex. The reason is they are from elite families.
Devadasi tradition or “sacred prostitution” is a form of sex work that dates back several centuries with the ritual found in written records even in the 12th century. The tradition involves a religious rite, in which girls and women are dedicated, through marriage, to different gods and goddesses, particularly to the goddess Yallama in a small temple. It is seen now as a scam to do temple duties, which mainly involve providing sexual services to priests and patrons of the temples. Though abolished now as illegal, the practice continues in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The ugliest face of the sex trade in many Asian countries is child prostitution. A 2004 UNICEF report estimates 500,000 child sex workers in India alone. Given the phenomenal increase in sex tourism, the number is bound to have risen to frightening proportions. Poor families are tricked into selling their children to such work for meager sums as 4 or 5 U.S. Dollars. Their family members thrust sometimes girl children who are victims of Incest into this trade. Many believe that having sex with a young child keeps the person away from STDs.
Other forms of Commercial Sex Workers
Road side Brothel
Causes of Commercial Sex Work
Ill treatment by parents
Inability to arrange marriage
Lack of sex education, media
Prior incest and rape
Early marriage and desertion (discarding)
Lack of recreational facilities, ignorance and acceptance of prostitution Economic causes include poverty and economic distress
Psychological causes include desire for physical pleasure, greed and dejection (unhappiness)
When one look in to the present day situations, brushing aside the history. One can find the girls with their faces covered with dupattas and which is not uncommon to the television viewers. The people who are caught in the commercial sex sell their bodies dreaming of having a peaceful life with two meals a day. Many had an idea that they loot the sex starved but it is seldom true, only in some cases not most. Once if a commercial sex worker is caught they are punishable leaving away the clients that are the existential law in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The sex workers are held guilty of promoting, furthering and committing moral wickedness.