In India prostitution is not illegal. Brothels, pimping and soliciting sex are.
By 2007, according to Human Rights Watch, there were 15 million sex workers in India. The city of Mumbai is home to 100 000 of them, making it the largest sex industry centre in Asia.
Alarmingly, over 35 percent of these sex workers enter the trade under the age of 18.
Many sex workers are either sold into the industry by impoverished families or a part of what is called the Chakri system – forced into prostitution to pay off family debts. Unfortunately, many are children.
The current law in India allows the industry to thrive yet hides it from the public. At the same time the Indian government is obliged to provide rescue and rehabilitation.
In 1996 it was reported over 40 percent of 484 girls rescued were from the neighboring country of Nepal.
Sex slavery is alive and well, and whilst over 50 percent of sex workers in India are HIV positive today there are reportedly 28,4 million slaves in the world. That’s according to a Columbia University report.
When walking through the red light district of Mumbai, often called the Street of the Commons, one is confronted by row after row of cages “pinjara” which are essentially barred windows one floor up. From them the faces of young women stare blankly.
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