WOW | Men Speak

Should Prostitution Be Legalised ?

Compiled by: Pabita Dahal
wow photo file © Ram Tandukar/ Gokul Shrees

Rishav Koirala
Psychiatrist and PhD Scholar

Every human being should have the right to do what they wish in their life as long as they are not harming others. I have my own point of view about sex workers which is entirely personal; I am not representing any sector or organisation while saying this. In Nepal, I have talked to many sex workers who are happy with their work.

The prostitution what we see in Nepal is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the news that we receive is about sex workers who are forcefully employed by procurers. We have an image that sex workers are from a low social class and compelled to do the work as it is their only means of living. However, in reality the sex workers in Kathmandu are from a wide range of socioeconomic strata and professions. A huge number of them choose to become sex workers as it is fun and easy money for them. Personally, I think people should have the right to use their capacity. As the physically strong male can go for physical labor, in the same way, a sexually active and attractive female can go for sex work if she enjoys it. But the choice should be theirs, who are we to judge what they should choose?

However, if people are forcefully brought to the prostitution and they are oppressed, misused and compelled, that is a huge problem. Recently I read an article about two females who were threatened and kept captive by a female brothel owner. They were physically and mentally harassed and were kept without the promised payment. Such things should really be addressed. If the prostitution was legalised the sex workers would not have to hide in disgrace in such instances. They would have their own rights, there would be rules for them and they could raise their voice in case of injustice and seek help from the government and police as well as from the civil society. But they are in vulnerable condition right now since prostitution is illegal in Nepal. Another big problem is sexual health and sexually transmitted diseases. Legalisation would also help to address it by setting rules for a regular checkup. Every rule, every policy has its pros and cons, so will legalisation of prostitution. We should be careful about the negative impact too.

Forceful employment and employment of minors are the things to be scared of. So, very strict rules should be applied to that. Prostitution as a profession will never end, people will keep getting involved in it either to earn money or just for pleasure, addressing it in a rational way is the only way out. Before legalising there should be good research about sex organisations and workers, how other countries are handling it, what drawbacks have been faced and so on.