Author: Pratishtha Vaidhya
Student of Indore Institute of Law, Indore
Present scenario of Prostitution
Prostitution is legal but a taboo in India. Thousands of girls are forced into sex work for money, and some voluntarily participate in these activities. And why not sex work is a money-making business without putting any real efforts into it. India claims to have some of the world's largest red-light districts in Kolkata, Mumbai, and in other parts of India.
Prostitution is not a new subject to talk about. We always hear about sex rackets, whines of prostitution in public, and other related activities. But all we speak about is female prostitution and its critics. And male Prostitution gets buried in darkness before the limelight of female prostitution.
Though there are women who pay men for sexual activities. Out of the total prostitution in the world, only. But the male prostitution market is expanding as more women and gay people are willing to pay men for there benefits and as society is inclining more towards accepting sex as a normal phenomenon.
Concept and Meaning
Male prostitution is the act or process of providing sex services in exchange for money. Clients for male prostitution can be both male or female. But a large fraction of customers is male.
Male prostitution is a different concept than female prostitution. Methods of business, names they call themselves, money, acceptance in society, etc., are the various factors that make these vary.
Male prostitutes use names that make them more presentable for their businesses like body massage, nude dance or modelling, giving companionship, and some other sexual services. They call themselves gigolo, male escorts, rent boy, or hustler. Their way of working can also define their names. Like in the case where a male escort who has sex with another male for money, but he doesn't refer himself as gay is called gay-for-pay.
Different facts and history of Male Prostitution
Male prostitution is not a new concept. It has been found in both modern and ancient cultures. There are numerous facts which show the existence of male prostitution since the 15th century and they are as below: -
1. In the 15th century, Italy, it was prevalent that young men (12-19 years of age) can engage sexually with other richer men for an obvious reason, money. And the most astonishing thing here is that their parents approved of this!
2. For rich and dignitary Roman men, it was culturally approved to have "concubinus" meaning a slave for sexual services before marriage.
3. In the mid-1600s, in many regions of Japan, several male actors were prostitutes and sought by both males and females for sexual services. Also, it was very popular for Japanese warriors to have sexual intercourse with their young juniors, as long as the relationship is educational and not entirely sexual.
4. In 19th century America, the cross-dresser males used to work in female brothels for their male clients.
5. In the late 1800s, a male prostitution pimp was caught in London run by young teenage boys.
6. During the depression in the 1930s, so many men worked as prostitutes for earnings.
As the visibility and identification of gays increased in modern times, straight escorts started to fear selling sex services, as by doing so they would be identified as gays.
Homosexuality and Male prostitution
On 6th September 2018, the Honourable Supreme Court of India legalized consensual sex of the same gender. The Supreme Court struck down section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which makes sexual activities between the same gender "against the order of nature” punishable by law.
It has been two years since the decree passed by the Honourable Supreme Court, but still, Indian society is not accepting the sexual intercourse between the same gender. This stimulates gay people, to hire Gigolos or male escorts in a secretive manner so that they can protect their identity as a homosexual.
Male Prostitution- way to freedom
Freedom is another aspect of Male prostitution. As stated above, men hire gigolos in a manner to protect their identities as homosexuals. But despite their fear of coming up in public freely, they admit to themselves who they are, and what do they want? With the growing market of male prostitution, it is visible that we are moving ahead towards freedom from our stereotypical mentality to a sophisticated world.
Not just homosexuality, but the word sex in Indian society is a forbidden concept as long as two people are not married to each other. This mind-set of people causes a lack of sex education as they can't talk about it in public and to children, misleading them towards crimes.
The legality of Male Prostitution
In the Indian legal system, majorly two laws describe the prostitution and prostitution-related activities and those are:
Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956, and
Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956.
According to these two laws, prostitution is allowed in the following cases:
follow out family profession i.e. if the parents were in the same profession, the person may do it.
to get compensation for physical relationships.
to do prostitution alone and away from public areas (20 yards away from public interference).
The Indian legal system allows certain kinds of prostitution activities. But one would be punishable under the law if found to be conducting the activities stated below:
solicitation in public.
owning a brothel.
pimping (working as an agent for customers to arrange sex act).
running out the prostitution activities in hotels.
allowing your place as a brothel on rent or lease.
operating the sex network or rackets.
trafficking children and girls for prostitution.
These activities are strictly prohibited under law. And after all the laws, the convict needs to be proven guilty with strong evidence.
High profile escort services cannot be detected because those are conducted at private places and with legal majors.
In our legal system, these rules are for women prostitution and safety. Male prostitution is not mentioned in the definition of prostitution. So yes, male prostitution is legal in India until it doesn't break into any criminal activities.
For female prostitutes, work situations are very different than for male prostitutes. There are very few percentages of women who voluntarily sell themselves. But of course, some women willingly do it as there's a lot of money in it. However, most of the women are forced into prostitution. Usually, young girls are trafficked and push into it. On the other hand, men willingly choose prostitution as their profession, and it should get a place in law.
Hasan Khurshid, Is Law Silent on Male Prostitution?, LAWYERS UPDATE ( May 2019), http://www.lawyersupdate.co.in/cover-story/is-law-silent-on-male-prostitution/
Prachi Darji, Prostitution in India, MTADVO ( Sept. 12, 2019), https://www.myadvo.in/blog/prostitution-in-india-read-its-causes-legality-and-law/
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