Shafiq R Khan




Shafiqur Rahman Khan
1. Meaning of Prostitution:
Prostitution refers to the practice of exchanging sexual services for financial remuneration. The practice has been reported in virtually every culture and described throughout recorded history. As a from of deviance, prostitution has been of interest to sociologists as a reflection of various social processes and phenomena
Sociologists have studied prostitution as a form of sexual deviance and a reflection of the basic values, norms, and institutions within a society. Sociological studies of prostitution have been concerned with the function it serves in a society, the gender inequality and double standard implicit in the practice, and the social dynamics involved in becoming a prostitute. Prostitution represents a form of sexual deviance in that it is a sexual practice which is widely viewed as socially undesirable and degrading. Colloquial terms used to refer to prostitutes, such as hooker, hustler, and whore, all carry negative connotations.
An important issue is defining what constitutes prostitution. Most definitions stress the relatively indiscriminate exchange of sexual activity for economic gain. For the prostitute, the practice represents a means of deriving of supplementing an income. A person who trades sexual activity for a job promotion would not be labeled a prostitute by most observers, although this situation includes some of the same elements as prostitution
[2]. What separates prostitution from the previous example is the repeated, indiscriminate nature of the exchange. More than an isolated deviant act, prostitution entails a deviant profession.
The most common form of prostitution involves women who sell sexual services to heterosexual men. The second most common group comprises male homosexual prostitutes who cater to gay men. The consistent pattern in society and throughout history is for the customers of prostitutes to be men. Male prostitutes who make themselves available to women (they are sometimes termed gigolos) are uncommon, and lesbian prostitutes are considered extremely race

2. History of Prostitution in India:
India has a long recorded history and great store is set by tradition, therefore it is important to face the history of prostitution to see how for practices in the past account for the position of women in present day society and reinforced toleration of assaults on the dignity of women by sexual violence and forced prostitution. India which is Justly claimed to be one of the most ancient civilizations of the world, presents an extensive account of the rise and development of the prostitution
[4]. The prostitution origin has been divided in three period ancient, medieval and modern.
2.1 Prostitution in Ancient Period:
(i) Pre-Vadic Age: Archeological findings have shed a great deal of light on the highly urbanised culture of Indus Valley people. But there is hardly any material that can definitely confirm or refute the existence of prostitution in the culture
[5]. There is some likelyhood that the bronze figure of dancing girl from Mohanjodaro represents a sacred prostitute carrying out her duties within the precincts of the temple of some mother goddess and this cult was quite well established in the Indus Valley Civilization.
The Indus Valley culture is noted for its economic prosperity and for its wealthy merchant guildes, and it is possible that rich merchants, as in other periods of Indian history, could afford to spend lavishly on wine and women. However it is not known whether any particular quarter was reserved in the architectural lay out of the Indus Valley cities for courtesans as was case in later times.
(ii) Vedic Age: In the normal course of things, Sound moral conduct based on chastity and homely virtues was prescribed for women but there is evidence to show that vedic Indians were as fond of wine and women as Indians in other period of history. Inspite of rural basis of vadic culture there is evidence which clearly points to the fact that prostitution existed in Rig Vadic times
It is related that girls without brothers were frequently reduced to prostitution. The terms Pumschali and Mahanangi were probably used for harlots.
Rig Ved refers clearly a dancing girl. There was a class of dancing girls even in Rig Vedic times, can be surmised from the word ‘u`rqfjo’ occurring in several places in Rig Veda. Indian mythology contains many references of apsaras, they are described as perfect embodiments of unsurpassed beauty and feminine charms
[7]. They were highly accomplished in music and dance. Apsaras have been stated as the Women having deliberate sexual contacts with Devatas and even with human beings. Rigveda 10.95 and afterward creation has illustration about the love affairs of Urvasi and Pururava. In fact the Apsaras were courtesans of heaven who had multiple sex relation.
Aryan rulers followed the system of celestial court and developed the system of guest prostitution. They presented women accomplished, beautiful and maiden in token of friendship to kings
[8] . In Rig Veda it is clear that there was a tradition to give the present of slave girls to rishis by kings.
In Rig Veda there is one instance which clearly indicates towards the existence of prostitution that marusts have said to have becomes associated with the young lighting in the way a man becomes associated with a young courtesans (Sadharani). This comparison of lightening with Sadharani, is only pointing towards the existence of institution of prostitution in Vedic time.
(iii) Post Vedic Age: The History indicates that prostitution was an accepted profession during Brahamana Period. The prostitutes were called vesya and it is conjectured that they were created to minister to the vish or traders and merchants who led a life cut off from home and wives. The prostitutes were variously known as ganika, bandhki, rupjiva, veshya, varangana, kultani, sambhali, pumscali etc.
Courtesans had a peculiar position in India as person who sacrificed what regarded as especially honourable in Women, they were held in low estimation. But society treated them with a certain amount of consideration as the custodian of the fine arts, which has ceased to be cultivated in the society.
In Brahminic period, marriage morals were in process of being highly refined and remodeled. The cult of chastity in marriage, virginal purity and ideal of strict monogamic life were being gradually established. Disparity in labour and economic complexity in the society become for the first time manifest in this period. Bread winning avocation weaned many people away from their cosy fire-side and peaceful village life and tempted them to plung head long into ‘city strife’
[9]. Under these circumstances it was inevitable that prostitution should pass into people’s every day life and into the law.
Marriage with the prostitute was not looked upon. The great sage Vashistha, for example was the son of a woman engaged in prostitution. The Brahamana literatures are not so keen about elucidating the life of prostitutes, their habits, modes and manners and the law relating to and regulating them.
In the Mahabharata period, courtesans were not merely the fringe dwellers of the society. On occasions, they were invited by people of high social status
[10]. The word Pprakasha-Sarvagmya denotes prostitutes. Regarding their garments it is stated that they should put on red clothers, red garlands, and use ornaments of red gold. The red colour is regarded as colour as the symbol of Yama. Probably this rule was framed to distinguish easily the prostitutes or for warning the people about the dangerous effect of sexual union with a prostitute; the red colour indicates death.
In Mahabharata courtesans of Indara Puri have been variously depicted. Mahabharata has recorded the name of forty two apsaras in all. The stars amongst heavenly hetariae are Urrashi, Menaka, Tilottama, Rambha and Ghritachee. Arjuna went once with his somatic body to heaven to pay a visit to Indra who is said to has been his defacto father. To satisfy the suspected salacity of his son, he requested Urvashi through Gandharva Chitrasen to entertain Arjun for night. But Arjuna delivered his opinion that he regarded her as the proginator of Purus. Urvashi cleared him that celertial nymphs are open for every one to have carnal contacts.
Epic Ramayana mentions courtesans as well as drinking bars. Where adultery and other immoral practices were indulged in. In Gorthi women of Vadini class used to provide entertainment for kings and nobles. There was the custom of engaging strumpets for entertaining distinguished guests. In the impending coronation of Rama, such women participated
[11]. Bharata ordered courtesans to join the welcome festival on the occasion of the return of the triumphant Rama.
The law blooks of ancient aryans were formally called Dharma-Sutras and Dharma-Shastras, embodying all rules and regulations pertaining to religion, society and family. Most law makers grew severe in maintaining chastily among the body politic on one hand, but practically made little efforts to penalise prostitution on other hand. Prostitution since the time of the early epics had been gathering forces and making in roads into every available nook and corner of society. The position of courtesans deteriorated sharply in the smriti period
[12]. The ganikas were the castaways of society and hance food form them was unacceptable to a wellbred Aryan. In almost all the samhitas all decent people are forbidden to partake of the cooked food of a Ganika. The smritis make thieves and other criminals the constant companions of public women. Yajnavalkya enumerates as one of the four tokens by which the police could trace a criminal that of living in house of ill fame[13].
Patliputra was at time of Chandra Gupta Maurya a flourishing center of prostitution and it was the first time the attention of the state was drawn to the colony of prostitutes for its effective control and to bring it under the obligation of a stabilized taxation system. Brothel keeping was looked upon as a source of govt. revenue
[14]. Brothel Keepers (Bandhakiposaka) had to pay a part of their earnings as revenue. The prostitutes quarter were near those of actors, meat sellers, vendors of cooked food, vaisyas. Kavtilya has used the words, such as ganika, praganika, dasi, devadasi, rupjiva etc. for the prostitutes and courtesans. Kautilya’s Arthasastra contains rules for prostitutes and their activities and gives and account of how prostitutes should behave and how their lives be ordered. The women of the count were not common prostitutes. They were highly accomplished courtesans and were considered fit to give company to the cultured men of society[15]. The function of prostitutes was not only entertainment, but their services were also used for political purposes, especially in espionage work.
Kamasutra, Vatsayayana, written probably in the early centuries of the Christain era, is the most important source of information about courtesans and prostitution in ancient India. The sixth Chapter of Kamasutra deals exclusively with courtesans. In Vatsayayana’s classification the lowest type of prostitute was the Kumbhadasi or common harlots
[16]. They used to entertain any one who could afford their low price. A kulta was a married women who practices prostitution. A paricharika or attendant was the daughter of courtesan who went through a form of brothel marriage. Ganika was the highest in rank of prostitutes and was well known for her good manners and deportement. In Kamasutra Vatsayayana has devoted a number of pages about prostitution and prostitutes. Rules of conduct for the popular and successful practice of their trade have been prescribed[17].
Purana makers one and all have freely fabricated many outstanding tales of heavenly nymphs-their relations with the mortals and their coming on earth either to break the chastity of sages or despoil the integrity of mighty kings. The love affair of Pururava and Urvasi was very widely described in various puranas
Puranas have laid down that the women attached with body and soul to one husband was called Pativarta. Wherever one who shared her couch with two paramours was called Kulata, to three was a Darshini, to four was Pungaschalea and to five was called veshya. The women who gave herself to people more than five in number was known as mahaveshya.

2.2 Prostitution in Medieval Period:
The system of attaching prostitutes to place of worship is of ancient origin but it seems to have come into regular practice during the third and fourth centuries when the rituals in the temple attained the complex form. When temple of Hindu Gods comes to be built, some people might felt that there should be singing girls attached to temple to play music.
The custom of association of dancing girls with temple is unknown to Jataka Literature. It is not mentioned in the Aarthsastra, which describes about the life and duties of dancing girls, is silent about it
[19]. The custom, however, had come in vogue by 3rd century A.D., for Kalidas refers to dancing girls present in Mahakala Temple of Ujjayini at the time of evening worship. This class of dancing girls consisted of girls who had been offered by the parents to the service of temple out of their devotion to God and religion. These dancing girls were considered essential at the time of offering prayers and were given a place of honour. Gradually, due to the laxity of morals among the priests, the system was misused by them for immoral purposes[20]. Under the grab of religious dedication of girls to temples clandestine prostitution developed.
Several Puranas recommended that arrangements should be made to enlist the services of singing girls to provide vocal and instrumental music at the time of devine services. These singing girls were usually prostitutes and even they have recommended to purchase of beautiful girls for their dedications to temples
[21]. One Purana goes to the extent of saying that the west way to win Suryaloka is to dedicate a bevy of prostitutes to a solar temple.
The Sultan and nobility used to maintain male and female slaves. Women were generally respected, but vices involving wine and women were not unknown. The nababs and nobles were not feeling any shame in keeping concubines and prostitutes in their houses
[22]. They did not scruple to trample on the sanctity of the harem and turned their harem in private brothel.
In Mughal period prostitution was recognized institution. Akbar, the illustrious Mughal emperor maintained a seraglio in which there were 5000 women and it had a supreme staff of women officers who looked after its management. Emperor Akbar made some regulations so that the services of prostitutes might not be available very easily to the public. The prostitutes were confined to a place outside the capital city
[23]. This place was known as Saitanpura or the devils quarter.
A large number of women were attached to the mughal courts for dancing and singing. The Mughal kings were great patrons of fine arts of music and dance, which flourished during their regime. Women even accompanied the mughal army and moved with them from place to place for the entertainment of the army personnels.
When Aurangzeb becomes the ruler, most of his rules were directed towards the prohibition of prostitution. But he got little success, prostitution received great encouragement from the rich and well to do section of the people
[24]. Hindu rajas like Baz Bahadur, the ruler of Malva and Raja Indrajet Singh, ruler of Orchha state of Rajasthan were great patrons of prostitution. The third stage of prostitution development the modern period as follows,
2.3 Prostitution in British Period:
The entry of Europeans into India profoundly altered the socio-economic and political milieu. The presence of sailors in port towns now rendered the climate morally vulnerable. After their long and dullsome voyage they wanted to have some relaxation during their halts in ports and they got the pleasure by attending dance parties and vesting places of interest
[25]. They also used to visit houses of prostitutes which were like honeycombs in areas adjoining sea ports.
Conditions continued to deteriorate and prostitution thrived on a large commercial scale. Social disabilities and economic hardships of women made them an easy victim to the gangsters in the profession. This situation was again deteriorated due to the changed socio-economic cultural atmosphere of India. The moral condition of the company’s servants was at the lowest ebb
[26]. Almost all unmarried Europeans and even married one kept native concubines.
Patronage to prostitution and singing and dancing grirls which had ended after the downfall of the muslim kings was once again extended to tem by the Zamindars, talukedars and nawabs.
In absence of state control and regulation, the vice of prostitution became rampant and British rulers felt the necessity to control and regulate it. Law dealing with immoral traffic was enacted by British rulers. The enactment of the Contagious Disease Act 1868 opened up a new epoch in the history of prostitution in India. Certain important factors such as the increase in incidence of Venereal diseases in the presidency capitals and for enacting rules for controlling the activities of prostitutes in the towns neighboring to cantonments, were behind this legislation
Important feature of this Act was that it sanctioned the establishment of brothels and allowed prostitution in a regularized form. Every brothel keepers and prostitute were provided with identity cards with details of registration, which was subjected to be produced on demand. Every prostitute was required to be periodically medically checked, that she was not infected with venereal diseases. This medical checking was having the aim to protect the customers from contracting sexually transmitted diseases from infected prostitutes
[28]. To protect the health of prostitutes was not main aim of the medical checkup provided by Contagious Disease Act 1868. The Contagious Disease Act was abolished in 1888 A.D...
It was in 1923 that the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act (SITA) was passed for Culcutta, Madras and Bombay presidencies. In Uttar Pradesh the Nayak Girls Protection Act and Minor Girls Protection Act were passed in 1923
[29]. Attempt to regulate and control prostitution was started in real legislative sense only after passing of these acts.
This chapter has highlighted prostitution development is three periods. These are vasdoch typed of prostitution pratedcd in India, they are:
3. Types of Prostitution:
3.1 Religious Prostitutes in India:
Religious prostitutes are known by different names e.g., Devadasis, Khudikar, Murloi, Basavi bhavin, Devali, Naikin and Jogins etc. They all start at an early age i.e. at puberty and prepuberty stages. Brief description of categories of religious prostitutes is given below:
Devadasis: Thought the term devadasi did not figure earlier than Chola times (850AD to 1280) 15 it is largely believed that the practice started about the third century AD.. The term devadasi literally means servant (slave). Her duties comprise a combination of Propriety, Ritual and Entertainment to assert positive fertility and prosperity. They on account of being married to Good or goddess, such as Yellamma or Mathamma were called ‘Nitya Sumangali’[31].
The system presently exists in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karantaka and some Parts of Goa. A girl whose mother is devadasi usually becomes a devadasi.
Jogins: The prevalence of Jogins, a similar practice like devadasi continues in large part of Andhra Pradesh. In this system the girls are ‘Married’ to God before puberty and they enter into prostitution when they reach puberty. In 1992 there were about 5, 00 jogins in Nizamabat and 30,000 elsewhere in the state
Ganga a scheduled caste girl was initiated as a jogin around the year 1960 at the age of six. After eight years of initiation at the age of 14 a local landlord come and took her away at night and in a span of few years burdened her with a couple of children and paid a paltry sum of Rs. 200 to her father by way of compensation and maintenance. After that she was passed on from one landlord to another till she died at the age of 30
[33]. The children left by Ganga are begging and the landlord has taken another jogin. There are about 10, 000 jogins in the area.
Basavi: It means ‘femal bull’ and it connotes the bulls freedom to wonder. Like Devadasis and Jogins, Basavis. Historically Basavis are forbidden to marry and expected to spend their lives performing religious duties. The system is known to exist in Andhra Pradesh and in scattered form in some areas of Karnataka. The Basavis do not immediately enter into life long career of prostitutes. They are still required to perform certain ritual duties. Since such work does not yield sufficient income they turn to prostitution
3.2 Street Walkers:
The street walkers may function independently or through pimps. Generally affiliated to brothels, hotels, cinema halls, etc. these women are vulnerable to attacks and pressures of both clients and the police, with little or no support to combat them. They have no security and are time and again exploited economically, emotionally and sexually either by the clients or others.
They avoid concentrating in particular areas in order to escape the eyes of the law enforcing authorities
[35]. They have their unique methods of soliciting clients. Their income may range from the low of Rs. 5/- to the high of 500/-
3.3 The Cage Brothel Prostitute:
This is an unique practice reported about Bombay, Delhi. Such prostitutes are attached to a brothel, which has a landlord who in turn rents the premises to a brothel keeper. The brothel keeper runs the brothel and appoints a manager who supervises and keeps a watch on all the women, pimps, procurers and henchmen. The caged prostitutes are basically minors, below 18 years of age. Their earnings may range between Rs. 50/- to Rs.100 per day. All their earnings go to the brothel keeper till such time that the brothel keeper’s investment made in procuring her has been recovered. The brothel keepers do not release these girls as long as they get regular and rich clients
[36]. Young girls and virgins are very much in demand and therefore their earnings during earlier years are high.
3.4 Brothel Prostitutes:
Such prostitutes stay and practice in brothels or brothel like outfits under the rules and regulations of the brothel which are set by the people managing the same. They are basically dependent on brothel keepers, pimps, etc, and they provide sexual favors to their clients in exchange of money. A good amount of their earnings is shared among various categories of persons including brothel keepers, pimps, etc.
Unlike street walkers they are economically secure in a sense that they are not cheated by their clients. As they work through established setups they are easily identifiable. The concentration of such prostitutes is considerably high in the respective brothels and their earnings may vary from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50/- per client. The clientele is mainly from the lower or lower middle class groups. Which include rickshaw pullers, labourers, etc. These prostitutes also belong to low socio-economic group families. The number of the clients they entertain daily is quite high and the localities where the brothels are situated are either densely populated or have high frequency of floating population. e.g. G.B. Road (Delhi), Kamathipura (Bombay), Khidirpur (Calcutta), etc
3.5 Singing and Dancing Girl:
This group of prostitutes do not start and end with sex. They normally start with singing and dancing to entertain the client and end with sexual favors. It is important to mention that these women are not entirely dependent on prostitution. They may or may not resort to prostitution regularly. They may have pimps and contact persons and have access to a part of the income along with the person who fetches them their clients. Unlike brothel prostitutes they have some degree of freedom in terms practicing prostitution. They are mainly drawn from lower or middle class groups. Majority of them operate through prostitution prone areas whereas there are a few who operate through brothels
[38]. It was observed that a good many of present day prostitutes belonged to this category earlier but because of loss of patronage have taken to direct prostitution.
3.6 Barmaids:
This group earns anything between Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3500/- per month. All barmaids do not indulge in prostitution but quite a few of these girls do indulge in the practice after the bar is closed. Most women/girls in this group maintain that they are neither exploited the management nor are they overtly harassed by customers
3.7 Theatre/Cinema Girls:
A special category of prostitutes reported by the Bombay study are those who are ‘Company’ to men and accompany them of cinema halls. They do not necessarily indulge in sexual activities except when some men take them to hotels for the purpose after watching movies
[40]. In such situations there women earn a little extra money.
3.8 Massage Parlours and Health Centre Attendants:
They basically work secretively and under some garb. They too, like singing and dancing girls, do not start and end with sex. They start with massaging or exercising or checkups and finally land up with sexual intercourse. They either work in these setups on full time or part time basis or work through these setups. These women cater to the clients of middle and upper income groups and so have high incomes which they share with the person who fetch them a client. They may or may not be solely dependent on prostitution. Prostitutes in this category are also from middle and upper class families
[41]. This phenomenon is increasing day by day and the women are found to practice at some pick up point convenient both to the client and prostitutes.
3.9 Independently Operating Prostitutes:
They normally belong to lower and lower middle class groups of families and serve to clients of the some class. They may or may not have pimps (majority of times they do not work through pimps). Normally found in the highly congested areas of big cities, like slums resettlement colonies, etc, they have a unique modus operandi. Majority of them and working women and resort to prostitution regularly or intermittently as a means a supplementing their monthly incomes
[42]. Their earnings are quite low because of the type clientele they serve.
3.10 Call Girls:
Some of the girls/women belonging to these categories of prostitutes also function call girls depending upon the situation of promises of greater payment.
It is a comparative recent phenomenon and it has been found that a good number of call girls belong upper middle class families. They may own apartments with telephones and other amenities, wherein they practice the profession. They may also go out to posh hotels and other places for the purposes of prostitution. They either operate independently or through a contact/manager. Some of them may have regular clients who may be willing to pay higher fees for exclusive services. They, too, share their income with their contacts. In many cases they have a choice to decide about their clients. Management to their business is either their own or their managers’ affair. They operate from areas inhabited by middle and upper class families
[43]. Their gradually increasing numbers are difficult to check because of the constant changes in the socio-economic situation of the city and growing commercialization of profession. There are few various types of prostitution practices in India.

4. Socio-Economic Causes of Prostitution.
4.1(A) Socio-Cause-Prostitution as a Social Problem: Prostitution has changed during the past fifty years. During the early part of the century, brothels were segregated in “red-light” district of urban community. Although “red-light districts have been eliminated in most cities, brothels continue to exist in or near cities and small towns especially mining towns and towns near military installations.
The contemporary prostitute, especially the call girl, is less identifiable, more anonymous, and more mobile than her past prototypes. During the first decade of the century the prostitute was identified by gaudy dress, by excessive makeup expressed in the term “painted lady”, by her aggressive manners as well as by her emancipated habits of smoking and drinking
[44]. Some contemporary prostitutes still dress flamboyantly; but the prostitute, as a rule, does not dress or behave differently from conventional girls of similar class and ethnic group.
Prostitution represents a social problem for several reasons. First, the prostitute is affected adversely by the pathological behavior of systematic and indiscriminate promiscuity. Second, she is frequently a source for spreading venereal diseases. Third, she frequently is controlled by, and is a source of revenue for organized crime.
The prostitutes who remains in this perverse craft for a long time deteriorates physically and psychologically. In addition to becoming infected on one or several occasions, she experiences sexual frigidity and attitudes of self-degradation. One study estimated that older prostitutes were sexually frigid in their contacts with their clients. And prostitutes who had been sexually responsive at the outset, lost their responsiveness within several month of “professional activity”. The Prostitute’s past social relationships frequently become sundered and her ties with the parasitic panderer more intensely dependent. The brothel prostitute pursues a mode of life which segregates her from conventional girls
[45]. Sometimes her activities are watched by the panderer. Furthermore, the prostitute tends to drift in a day-to-day routine without any purpose or plan.
Since prostitution involves systematic promiscuity, it is a pervasive source for the spread of venereal disease. Venereal disease afflicts over three million people yearly. Still the prostitute is not as prevalent a source for spreading venereal disease as the promiscuous “pick-up” girl. One study of soldiers reported that 64.1 per cent were infected by “Pick up” girls; 20.7 percent were infected by “friends” and wives; but only 15 per cent were infected by prostitutes
[46]. Sine the prostitute is sophisticated about sex, she may be more careful about contracting venereal disease than the “pick-up” girl.
Venereal disease generally is an important social problem but recent medicines such as penicillin and head treatments have reduced its destructive effects considerably. The mortality rates from syphilis have declined steadily since 1900, while the rates of persons who have become paretic also have been reduced markedly.
4.1 (B) Social Characteristics of Prostitutes:
Social class most arrested prostitutes are recruited from the unskilled occupations, particularly waitresses, barmaids, domestics, and factory workers. Since some prostitutes claim to be housewives, this role many times conceals their former unskilled occupations. Some call girls, however, have had occupational careers as models, entertainers, and some have been unsuccessful actresses.
Kinsey found that, even among prostitutes, attitudes towards sex very. The prostitute in the lower class does not regard sex foreplay as an accepted part of her sex practices
[47]. Although she may practice it in her trade, she does not practice it in her voluntary sex expressions.
The Sociology of Prostitution is an inherently social activity. The commercialization of sexual desire and the commoditization of sexual relations in general is only possible in ‘advanced’ civilizations with a full money economy and a developed economic. Social and sexual division of labour. Sociologists, however, have been concerned with developing an adequate definition of prostitution which distinguishes it form marriage and from different forms of promiscuity. One of the earliest attempts to provide a sociological understanding of prostitution was provided by Kingsly Davis who attempted to explain the paradox of prostitution as a ‘necessary evil’. He argues that prostitution is stigmatized on one hand as an illegitimate form of sexual expression representing the negation of the modern family; while on the other hand there are considerable economic, social and personal pressures for women to engage in prostitution
Mobility like professional criminals, prostitutes tend to have very casual and transient relationships. They tend to break ties with their former conventional associates, and by the nature of their occupation, intensify their mobile social relations. Many leave their communities and break their family ties, or disguise their social roles for the safe of their families.
Marital status of 1825 arrested prostitutes in Los Angeles, 35.6 per cent were unmarried, that is, divorced, separated or widowed; 34.1 per cent claimed that they were married, and the marital status of 30.3 per cent were unknown.
Because of their transient social relations and promiscuity, prostitutes have had unstable marital relations
[49]. Before becoming prostitutes many had unhappy marriages, had become estranged, and had felt less inhibited about promiscuity. Some prostitutes, especially new prostitutes who do marry, leave the craft. On the other hand, long-time prostitutes seldom marry, and their avowed commercialized promiscuity is grossly incongruous with the sexual monopoly of monogenic marriage. In a few instances, husbands exploit their wives’ prostitution; e.g., one-third of arrested prostitutes admittedly were married[50]. Some of these prostitutes were married to panderers, who by the marriage exerted a more binding hold over them.
Age since physical attraction is prime consideration in the desirability of the prostitute youth tends to be a premium. Hence most prostitutes are under 25 years of age, with the model age category between 20 and 24 years. The age range may very from early adolescence of 17 to about 30. on the one extreme, the girls younger than the age of consent, whether 16 or 18 for the particular state, are considered definite risks by the panderer
[51]. On the other age extreme, older prostitutes may be quite adept in keeping their real ages a secret and in assuming a younger age.
Education seemingly the less successful and the known prostitutes may have a lower education then the general population of women of similar socio-economic levels, but the more successful prostitutes who were drawn from the middle classes are as educated and as intelligent as the general population of women. A survey of 1,849 prostitutes in Los Angles reports that 68.41 per cent had attended high school or beyond; and that of this group, 9.41 per cent attended college. On the other extreme, 1.57 per cent reported no education, and 29.20 per cent limited their education to grade school
[52]. Very likely this sample would not be representative of prostitutes throughout the country because a higher proportion would have had less then eight grades of schooling. This is all about social causes of prostitution.
4.2 Economic Causes:
Economic factor is a significant locomotive of human behavior in the society. Economic factors helped to mould the entire society, the family structure and therefore the personality of every person, so also every profession. Economics is the personality of every person, so also every profession. Economics is the pervasive them of prostitution and this reality is indicated by the fact that money is mentioned as a motivating factor in virtually all of the literature relating to prostitution
[53]. Because its stock in trade is sexuality, prostitution has traditionally been both controversial and difficult to define. Prostitution is the granting of non- marital sexual access…for remuneration, which provides part or a prostitute’s entire livelihood. One type of literature represents prostitutes as wretched creatures forced into prostitution by extreme economic deprivation, opposing this depiction, is a body of research which indicates that prostitutes choose prostitution as an occupational alternative that provides them relatively greater opportunity for earning money that affords them the highest attainable standard of living.
Kingsley Davis observed about economic cause of prostitution and related it with female attractiveness:
“Furthermore the division of labour by sex inevitably makes women dependent to some extent on their sexual attractiveness and puts men in control of economic means. Since the economic means are distributed unequally between classes but female attractiveness is not, some women of lower economic means can exploit their attractiveness for economic gain”
Havelock Ellis depicted that the higher wages are earned in prostitution in comparison to wages paid of ordinary women. This higher wage is actual motivating factor initiating the profession of prostitution.
“No practicable rise in the rate of wages paid to women in ordinary industries can possible compete with the wages which fairly attractive women of quite ordinary ability can earn by prostitution”
Esselstyne find out that causative factor of prostitution is that prostitution provides materially better living standard to women who are entering in this profession:
“Women are attracted to prostitution in contemporary America because the income is high and because it affords an opportunity, to earn more, buy more, and live better than would be possible by any other plausible alternative”.
Greenwald studied 26 call girls and reported that “Not one of the girls I interviewed attempted to explain her choice of her profession in terms of desperate economic needs”. Pomeroy studied 175 prostitutes 83 to 93 percent of whom were motivated by economic factors, he noted that “the gross income from prostitution is usually larger that could be expected, from any other type of unskilled labour”
[56]. Jannifer James study points out that only 8.40 percent of prostitutes claimed to here started prostitution because of economic necessity, While 56.49 percent were motivated by a desire for money and material goods. Some researchers claim to find an abnormal, perhaps even neurotic materialism among prostitutes. O’Toll jackman and geis state that:
“The rationalization by prostitutes violating social taboos against commercial sex behaviour take the form of exaggerating other values, particularly those of financial success, and for some the unselfish assumption of financial burden of people dependent upon them”
Economic factor is significant locomotive in deciding human behavior. But what has been shown by the researchers in developed countries is not correct explanation of prostitution in developing countries. Sometimes economic necessity compels an individual to do. What she will not do in normal conditions. Where a person is starving how one can conclude that she is selling her virtue for getting be rich quick and for material ends. It is perception of causes from male point of view that one sells the body for getting only money. This point has been clearly proved by a new breed of hard working researchers. The Ministry of Human Resource Development sponsored a Research project which elucidated by interviewing 120 prostitutes that monthly income from sex trade varies from less than Rs. 100/- to Rs. 1200/- and only 14.16 percent were earning Rs. 1200/- or above
[58]. Economic factors are such dominating that women are competed to sell their bodies even on amount of Rs. 1/- and it goes up to Rs. 50/-. The same research reveals that change of 37.50 percent of respondents varied between Rs. 20/- to 30/- and 15 percent get less than Rs. 10/-. This research project clearly depicts that it is ‘dire necessity’ which is compelling factor for the sexual deviance. By getting so low earning by sex trade who can be lured by this trade only for material ends. Research work of Rita Rozario shows the other side of this economic compulsion. The whole Indian society is stratified in which scheduled castes and scheduled tribes find lowest position and are downtrodden. Their economic condition is very bad. These communities make a larger portion of prostitute population. The data of research work of Rita Rozario indicates that about 37.7 percent of the sample belong to scheduled castes and scheduled tribe. Only 5.7 percent belonged to upper castes and there was no information regarding 56.6 percent of sample[59]. This reveals that most of the prostitutes whose caste was known come from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

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[1]. Frank N. Magill: International encyclopedia of Sociology, vol 2. London. Chiago 1995. pp1044.
[2]. Ibid
[4]. Motichanda: The World of Casrtesans’, Vikash Publishing House Pvt.Ltd., New Delhi, 1973 pp:1
[5]. Ibid
[6]. Ibid
[7]. Singh, P.K. ‘Brothel Prostitution in India; University Book House Pvt-Ltd, Jaipur, 2004 pp: 11
[8] . Motichancla, (4) pp: 3
[9]. S.N. Sinha and N.K. Basu: ‘History of Prostitution in India’, Cosmmu Publications, New Delhi, 1994 pp: 29.
[10]. P.K. Singh (7) pp: 13, 14
[11]. Ibid: 14
[12]. Ibid:
[13]. Ibid: 15
[14]. S.C. Banarji and R. Banarji: ‘The Castaway of Indian Society’, Punthi, pustak, Culcutta, 1989 pp:59.
[15]. P.K. Singh (7) pp: 15
[16]. Motichanda (4): 92-93
[17]. Ibid
[18]. P.K. Singh (7): 16
[19]. Ibid: 16
[20]. Ibid: 17
[21]. Ibid:
[22]. Santosh Kumar Mukerji: ‘Prostitution in India’, Inter India Publications, New Delhi, 1986 pp: 71
[23]. P.K. Singh (7): 18
[24]. Rita Rozayio: ‘Trafficking in Women and Children in India’, Uppal Publishing House, New Delhi 1988, pp:9
[25]. M. Sunder Raj: ‘Prostitution in Madras: A Study in Historical perspective’, Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Delhi, 1993 pp:42
[26]. P.K. Singh (7): 18-19
[27]. P.K. Singh (7): 19
[28]. Ibid
[29]. Ibid
[30]. Ibid
[31]. Joseph Gathia: ‘Child prostitution in India’, Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi, pp:10
[32]. Ibid: 10-11
[33]. Ibid: 11
[34]. Ibid:
[35]. K.K. Mukherjee & Deepa Das: ‘Prostitution in Metropolitan cities of India’, A study by: Central Social welfare Board, Samaj Bhavan, New Delhi, pp:13
[36]. Ibid: 14
[37]. Ibid: 15
[38]. Ibid
[39].Ibid: 14-15
[40]. Ibid: 16
[41]. Ibid:
[42]. Ibid:
[43]. Ibid: 16-17
[44]. S. kirson Weinberg: ‘Social Problems inOurTime’, Prentice. Hall, INC. Engkwood Cliffs, N.J. 1960, pp: 245
[45]. Ibid: 246
[46]. Ibid: 246-47
[47].Ibid: 254
[48]. Roger Metthews and Maggie O’ Nill:” Prostitution” (ed.), Published by Bartmouth Publishing Company Ashgate Publishing Ltd. Gower House 2003, pp: Xiii
[49]. S. Kirson Weinberg (44): 255
[50]. Ibid:
[51].Ibid: 255-256
[52].Ibid: 256
[53]. P.K. Singh (4): 25
[54] Kingsley Davis: “Prostitution in Merton and Nisbet(ed.)’ Contemporary social problem’, Narcourt Brace Javanmichlnc; New Yourk. 1971. pp: 345
[55]. P.K. Singh (4): 25
[56]. Ibid: 25-26
[57]. Ibid: 26
[58]. Ibid: 26-27
[59]. Ibid: 27

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