Prostitution | YAIF | Definition, types, impact, causes, reasons, law & punishment

What Is Prostitution?

Almost all states have laws making illegal to engage in, promote, or profit from prostitution. The term “prostitution” generally means the approval by a person to any natural or unnatural sexual act, vary sexual intercourse, or sexual contact for monetary consideration or another thing of value.

An escort service is any business, agency or person who, for a fee, commission, hire, reward or profit, furnishes or offers to furnish names of persons, or who introduces, furnishes, or arranges for persons, who may accompany other persons to or about social affairs, entertainments or places of amusement, or who may associate with others about any place of public resort or within any private quarters. Escort services are generally legal, but if they are a cloak for prostitution, they are not.

Besides engaging in, offering, or pleading for acts of prostitution, laws, which vary by state, also make it a crime to do the following:

  • Cause or benefit a person to commit or engage in prostitution.
  • Procure or summon patrons for prostitution.
  • Provide persons or assumptions for prostitution purposes.
  • Receive or accept money or another thing of value pursuant to a prior agreement with any person whereby he or she participates or is to participate in the dividend of any prostitution activity.
  • Operate or assist in the undertaking of a house of prostitution or a prostitution enterprise.

The following is an example of a New Mexico statute defining prostitution:

“Prostitution consists of knowingly engaging in or offering to engage in a sexual act for hire. As used in this section “sexual act” means sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, masturbation of another, anal intercourse, or the causing of penetration to any extent and with any object of the genital or anal opening of another, whether or not there is any emission. Whoever commits prostitution is guilty of a petty misdemeanor, unless such crime is a second or subsequent conviction, in which case such person is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Types Of Prostitution  

Independent Call Girl/Escort

Independent escorts work for themselves in hotels and private buildings like houses, charge high prices, and stay away from the public eye. They likely advertise their services online, and they get to keep their profits since they’re self-employed.

Escort Agency Employee

Like independent call girls, employees of escort agencies work in private locations or hotels and charge relatively high prices.(Weitzer says these employees face “moderate exploitation” since they have to give a cut of their earnings to their agencies.)

Brothel Employee

Brothels are dedicated locations where people pay for sex and can include saunas and massage parlors, Weitzer writes, “The prices they charge are “moderate,” and brothel workers endure “moderate exploitation” since they have to give part of their earnings to the brothel owners.” 

Window Worker

This type of prostitution, entices passersby to enter houses of prostitution by prominently displaying the women in windows. Here’s an excellent portrayal of window work, which pays women a low-to-moderate wage.

Bar or Casino Worker

These sex workers make initial contact with men at a bar or casino and then have sex at a separate location. In bars in Thailand, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic, guys pay “bar fees” to leave a club with a worker and spend several days with her, Weitzer writes, “The guys (often foreigners) pay the women’s expenses during that time, in an arrangement that often confers status on the prostitute. The women earn low-to-moderate salaries.”


Streetwalkers earn relatively little money and are vulnerable to exploitation, Weitzer writes, “Not surprisingly, they report less job satisfaction and get paid less than “indoor prostitutes” (bar workers, brothel workers, or call girls).”

Child Prostitution 

Child prostitution is done when sexual activity is done and it is a form of commercial exploitation. Surveys show there are an estimated 1.2 million children involved in prostitution.

Main reasons for prostitution

There are always different sides to the story. The same way the reasons for prostitution are many. Some are forced to do and some do as having several reasons. Boys as well as girls both are there in this activity. Let’s look at the reasons. 


Nowadays our population is increasing more and more. So poverty is also rising at some point, so to fulfill their regular needs the needy comes into prostitution. For their survival,they come into this thing. Mostly, rural women are involved as they don’t earn much, some people just lure them offering more money for this. 

Lack of proper guidance from parents 

Many youths came into this as they don’t have someone to guide. They got into the touch with this kind of activities and they just dwell deeper into it. As no one was there to hold them. To stop them. 

Forced into prostitution

Women were kidnapped and they are forced to do this thing. Also in some cases, the backward family forced women to do this.

There was a research in which the researchers found from the answer of prostitutes that they do it for their sexual curiosity and money. This was the main conclusion from that survey. 

Difference between consent and forced prostitution

There is a huge difference between consent and forced prostitution. 

Consent prostitution takes place when he/she wants to do this for their sexual curiosity or for money. Like it was in research that up to 70 % are doing it for money and sexual curiosity. 

Child prostitution does not come under consent prostitution as he/she is not mature enough and they are considered as minors.

Forced prostitution takes place when someone deliberately forces someone to get involved in this kind of activity. 

They are not happy to do that and nobody asks for their consent. And if they want to leave this they are just not allowed. They are forced more and more, luring them with money or other things. Child prostitution falls under this one.

Causes of Prostitution 

As it was also in reasons that poverty is also a purpose for it. Therefore, the lack of financial resources forced them to be a prostitute. Every day or another they have to face a lot of criticism from society. 

As child prostitution is also there, they don’t have much education as from smaller age they were just forced to do this all activity. Due to this, their family relationships also suffer. They don’t have a proper person to guide. 

In addition to this, some more points like:- 

o The feeling of abandonment and inferiority, inability to establish satisfying and heterosexual relationships, and mental deficiency.


Many diseases are spread due to unsafe sexual activity and it is dangerous for both males and females. Also, it can lead to bad habits like drugs and alcohol. 

If someone is forced to this then it could be very harmful to one’s mental health. As a prostitute, they have to face much social rejection and also a broken relationship with their families. 

Impact on society

The reasons behind prostitution are mainly lack of financial assistance. The impact of prostitution can be classified into four parts as physical and psychological, social, economic, and financial.

Physical and Psychological impact- The sex workers often suffered major and sometimes incurable diseases, like HIV/AIDS, etc. Even their kids to face such health issues.

Social impact: Women’s sex workers and their kids face hurdles in society. Dignity is inherent to human life and a fundamental right too under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution,1950. But this is not the same in their case, from the perspective of a narrow society. The children of the sex workers do not, unfortunately, get equal lifestyles like other children. And they are refrained from getting mingled with other children in society.

Legal issues: The complicated legal system frequently places these sex workers to get exploited and punished. If a woman gets arrested, she faces problems in getting legal assistance due to her identity as a sex service provider.

Economical issues: Sex workers also face an economic problem. If anyone tries to come out from prostitution, to get rehabilitatedafter this she needs financial assistance. But they are denied any other jobs due to their past.


The governments of many Indian grand states had regulated prostitution in India prior to the 1860s. The British Raj enacted the Cantonment Act of 1864 to regulate Prostitution in colonial India. At present, the primary law dealing with the status of sex workers is the  Immoral Traffic (Suppression) Act, 1956 (SITA). But the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is often used to charge sex workers with vague crimes such as “public indecency” or being a “public nuisance”. In 1986 the old law of 1956 was amended as the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act or ITPA, also called the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA). It was amended as a result of the signing by India of the United Nation’s declaration in 1950 in New York on the suppression of trafficking.

The ITPA’s scope is limited to commercial sexual exploitation or prostitution and penalizes those who facilitate and abet commercial sexual exploitation, including clients and those who live off on the earnings of prostitutes. It also provides for welfare measures towards the rehabilitation of victims in the form of protective homes to be set up and managed by state governments.

The Act was enacted in order to limit and abolish prostitution in India. Under the Act, sex workers are free to practice their profession ‘privately’. But the law provides punishment for conducting sexual activities in public places. Also pimping, brothels, procuring, and trafficking of women and minors is punishable.

Therefore, if a sex worker tries to solicit or seduce client in the public domain, or through their phone numbers may be punished with imprisonment up to 6 months.

A client if seeks the services of a sex worker within 200 yards in public places, he may be punished with imprisonment for up to 3 months.

Pimps and Babus: Those that are earning a living from a sex worker are guilty under this Act. He may be imprisoned up to 2 years with a fine.

An adult male who permanently lives with a sex worker may be charged unless he proves otherwise.

Brothel: Owning and managing a brothel is illegal. Offenders shall be charged under this Act. Imprisonment may last up to 3 years in some cases. 

Landlords and brothel-keepers can be prosecuted, maintaining a brothel is illegal (From 1 to 3 yearsimprisonment with fine for the first offense), Detaining someone at a brothel for the purpose of sexual exploitation can lead to prosecution (Imprisonment of more than 7 years).

Prostitution in a hotel is also a criminal offense.

Procuring and trafficking: A person procures or attempts to procure anybody is liable to be punished. Also, a person who moves a person from one place to another (human trafficking), can be prosecuted similarly with 7 years of imprisonment with a fine for the first conviction, and up to life imprisonment.

Rescued Women: The government is legally obligated to provide rescue and rehabilitation in a “protective home” for any sex worker requesting assistance.

Public place in the context of this law includes places of public religious worship, educational institutions, hostels, hospitals, etc. A “notified area” is a place that is declared to be “prostitution-free” by the state government under the PITA. A brothel in the context of this law is a place that has two or more sex workers.

In 2006 the Ministry of Women and Child Development put forward a bill aimed at reducing human trafficking. The bill proposed criminalizing the clients of trafficked prostitutes. However, it stalled during the legislative process, and legislation against human trafficking was subsequently effected by amendments to the Indian Penal Code.

In 2009 the Supreme Court ruled that prostitution should be legalized and convened a panel to consider amending the law. In 2011 the Supreme Court held that the “right to live with dignity” is a Constitutional right and issued an order relating to “creating conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity”. The court directed the Central Government, States, and Union Territories to carry out a survey to determine the number of sex workers in the country willing to be rehabilitated.

Punishment For prostitution 

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act was passed in 1986 and is an amendment to the SITA. As per this law prostitutes will be arrested for doing the wrong activity. Call girls are not allowed to make their phone numbers public. They can be imprisoned for a maximum of 6 months along with financial penalties if they are caught doing so.

Clients who consort with prostitutes can be imprisoned for a maximum of 3 months and they need to pay fines for the same as well. If someone is found indulged in activity with someone who is under the age of 18 then he or she can be jailed for 7-10 years.

Those who run business or brothel-keepers and landlords in the first offense they will be imprisoned for a maximum of 3 years. And if they are found to keep the prostitute forcefully then they will get 7 years of imprisonment. 


Prostitution is not a crime in India. But it is considered as an evil and a curse on women. The existing laws regulating prostitution are not enough to cure the problem. By these provisions as we discussed in the article, we are unable to stop the menace in our society. Also, there is no law recognizing and regulating male prostitution in our country. And the rehabilitation process to sex workers is also not impactful. To change the present condition we need stricter laws plus proper education. And there should be equal concern about the employment opportunity of these workers and side by side education of their children.

A better tomorrow for women who provide sexual assistance seemsa dream indeed but not impossible.