Prostitution is being referred as the oldest profession and it is known to everyone that there are a large number of prostitutes everywhere in the world including highly conservative Islamic countries where it is banned by the law of 'Sharia'. The moral police who is being recruited to enforce the law and the code of religion are unable to wipe out prostitution. In the former Communist countries also there was prostitution although it was hidden from the public eyes. It is a well known fact that former KGB used women to extract secrets. So whether religion or Communism can totally wipe out prostitution is out of question. Now there is the problem with terminology also. Prostitutio0n is often reffered as sex work by many.
There are countless books and articles on this topic. Most often works are by people belonging to middle class or those who share middle class mind set. As the middle class are the bearers of morality and as they carry a lot of shared vales in between the elites and the poor class they often cling on to the family norms and condemn prostitution. But the same middle class men who view sex workers contemptously have no problem in going to them secreyly.
Now the question comes. What prompts men to go to prostitutes even when they have wives and living happily, to use a typical phrase. Recently Times of India published an article on the same topic based on a world wide research. While agreeing with most of what is written in the article let me add a few more things. While the Times article stated that men buy sex as they find nothing wrong with it and they go to women as they want a change, another relatively lesser known thing is that many women who are in this profession often do not find much fault with the profession. Many women writers from this profession has shattered many of the myths associated with this profession.
The novel titled 'Women at Zero Point' is a great novel on the life of a high class prostitute. The novel published by Orient Logman is the true story of a young and intelligent women who was pushed into prostitution. The women who was a country wide rank holder in Egypt coolly describes herself as a high level prostitute to the wrter who went to interview her. She searches work after a journalist who used to be her client told her that her profession is not respectable. After working in the corporate sector for some time she goes back to the prostitution saying that it is a far better job compared to the company job where women go to any extent to secure a promotion or getting some benefits. Although the charecter of the novel see things with great cynicism because of her own experiences no honest person can alltogether reject her arguments.
Nalini Jameela from India also produced her true account as a sex worker. While it is a true account,the philosophical insights that we get from 'Women at Zero Point' is certainly lacking in that book. The book 'Brothel' also throws lot of light on prostitution and the mindset of women engaged in that profession. When the researcher of the book once went to some women who were engaged in that profession, they told her to try it herself. Then one among them told her,"it is not bad as you think."
Men often get not much freedom in the households contrary to the popular belief. While the writers againt patriarchy has characterised man as the villain, many sex workers have written that many men are being enslaved by their wives and they come to the sex workers to free themselves from that drudgery. Many go to the sex workers sometimes just to talk as they can't tell many things to their wives. And many men who go to sex workers are ordinery men who work in offices or companies and leading a perfectly normal life. They are not criminals or anti-socials as characterised by the writings.
The real problem is the hypocracy around our sexual relations. Although men go to prostitutes privetly they want to stone them publicly just to project themselves as moralists. This hypocracy has been resisted and exposed by saints and mystics and all truth loving people. When Christ told the Jewish crowd that' let those who have not sinned throw stones' he was trying to expose this hypocracy. He had no problem in accepting Mary Magdalene as his deciple. Similarly Buddha had no problem in accepting Amrapali who was the best known prostitute of that time.
While prostitution acts as a safety valve in the society,we should not overlook the activities of criminal gangs who want to force the non wlling women into this profession. The socio-economic compulsions forcing women to go into this profession also has to be addressed. So the best option in my view is to recognize the human rights of those who are in this profession rathen than trying to supress the prostitution using state force and archaic laws.