This article deals with the reform of prostitution laws in India. It begins with an outline of the current legislative framework available in this regard and then critically evaluates the various alternatives to the framework that have been proposed through the 1990s by the Indian government, universities and research institutions, the Indian women's movement and sex-worker organizations. After undertaking an historical examination of prostitution laws in India from colonial times up to the present, the author recommends the decriminalization of prostitution with a strong emphasis on the protection of the civil rights of prostitute women as a matter of policy. More importantly, the author challenges the underlying assumptions of much Indian feminist theory and practice on the issue, critiques the politics of representation in the law reform process and seeks to highlight the agency of Indian prostitute women in the debate on prostitution laws.
Preparing for Civil Disobedience: Indian Sex Workers and the Law,
B.C. Third World L.J.