Prostitution is presently legalized 15 countries that include, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, and Netherlands. India has the huge market of flesh trade but it has not legally established as yet. This story is a group of NIFT students headed by Amit Chauhan is making all the efforts to legalize the prostitution in India.
[su_expand more_text=”READ MORE” less_text=” ” height=”0″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”button” link_align=”center”] Amit Chauhan, the writer of a book called “NATH UTRAI” which is also a Facebook page now is the leader of a group of students doing the project on legalizing prostitution in India. Amit had decided to turn his NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) project into a larger perspective of legalizing the prostitution in India despite not being sure of the outcome of his efforts. In his exclusive interview with Susmita Mukherjee of Indiatimes Chauhan spoke about his efforts of legalizing the prostitution in India. He told her about everything that he found in the case studies of prostitution in the dark lanes of the Northern India for his research of an upcoming book and now Facebook page Nath Utrai.
“The page is named after the girl’s puberty festival in Khakranagla of Rajasthan. The project was inspired by the cultural reference to prostitution in the village which is one-of-a-kind in India,” said Chauhan adding that “Many parts of India celebrate a girl’s attaining puberty but it is largely a celebration at home or with near and dear friends. In Khakranagla, after a girl has her first period, she has a ceremonial bath and then married. The first night is celebrated as the ‘nath utrai’ or losing of virginity.”
According to the Sushmita, Amit Chauhan, Amit first visited this village as part of his project on using prostitutes as models for his designs. After returning from the trip, he found himself thinking of a larger possibility for empowering prostitutes across India. Amit Chauhan has later teamed up with six more students from his college namely Shristi Soni, Saudamini Thakur, Mayank Kukreja, Ruchi Bhardwaj, Ayush Dheriya, Abhay Kishwan and Aastha Sharma in Kangra and started a larger project documenting the lives of prostitutes in Delhi and Rajasthan. “We chose three case studies from Delhi and Rajasthan respectively. Although we went armed with questions on their choice of profession and what they would do if they could escape, we were shocked to find that most women in the profession do not want to leave the job,” he narrated adding that “These prostitutes are the bread winners for their entire family.”
“Six months ago, we went to GB Road in Delhi which is a well-known red light district in the Capital. We were led to the police station by touts where we were instructed not to take any photographs or video footage,” he said. “We spoke to a lot of the women there. They were clear that they did not want this life for any of their children but for most, there were no alternate job options.”
“My family knew about the project I have been working on and they had valid concerns as the crime rate around these places is quite high. They are still nervous when I am on the field but they support me,” he added. The end of the project started a bigger conversation among the seven which resulted in the Facebook page – Nath Utrai.
According to Chauhan, a prostitute does not make much money since they have to share their earnings with the “These women get 100-200 rupees per customer and have to split the profits with middlemen. If prostitution was legalized in India then they would not get exploited,” Chauhan said. “The objective in my mind is to fight for legalizing prostitution in India. I feel that by doing this, we can help bring down crimes against women in the country. If men have a legal space to satisfy their sexual needs, women of the country will be at a lesser risk.” According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development has stated that the number of prostitutes in India, despite its illegality, has risen by 50 per cent between 1997 and 2004.
According to Chauhan, the ministry also has recorded over 3 million sex workers across India in 2009. However, these numbers have risen drastically. Prostitution is illegal in India however, owning or running a brothel is not. Countries like Germany, Greece, and Indonesia have benefitted deeply from legalizing prostitution with clear laws in favour of the sex workers. However, in countries like Canada and Bangladesh, legalizing prostitution has added to trafficking and other crimes. India needs to develop a strict set of laws governing the trade to avoid crimes against women.
According to Amit Chauhan, the Nath Utrai project now has a support from the Scottish activist, Mekhala Dave, who will be visiting India next year to help the students bring out a book and file a petition for the legislation. “Right now, we are doing a lot of shoots with models and college students on the basis of the research that we have. We are trying to create more awareness on the issue on a national level.”
The Facebook page gets a lot of hits but has less than 400 likes so far. Chauhan laughs, “I understand that people want to know about it but do not wish to be seen publicly talking or participating in such an event.” More solemnly, he adds, “This needs to change. Every person has human rights and these women have been deprived of dignity and have ended up as victims of a failed society.”