I generally resist from touching this issue because I really don’t have solutions. I very well know that, in the job arena, an Indian woman has to face many more complications than an Indian male does. The persistent stereotyping, name calling, compromises, family conflicts, inertia and complacency are all hurdles that a woman has to cross even to enter the job market, and, on entering the job market, she faces even further problems: It is a fact that the job markets are dominated by males, and they react in all manners possible ranging from sexual abuse to patronization; however, more often than not, the true status has to be snatched. And, then there is a constant pressure to get married, which I have completely failed to understand, and the pressure is always self-imposed: why the hell every woman wants to get married?
Ok, I need to admit that the trigger for writing this piece is the movie “Laga Chunari Mein Daag” — which, btw, I found pathetic: There are many lacunae in the storyline; the direction is also not good, but, over and above all, it leaves a very wrong message. I want to use the protagonist of the movie “Vibha” to see if some solutions can be found.
Vibha is an unqualified, unsophisticated, naive small-town girl, who, compelled by circumstances, comes to Bombay to find a Job. Luckily enough, she finds at least four breaks. In one of the jobs, she is not aggressive enough thus fails; in another, she is not good at speaking English; in yet another, she is unqualified; and another job, she gets, is temporary. Then, forced by circumstances, she makes a compromise and enters prostitution. First by error, though intuitively aware, and then by choice. The error was in thinking that prostitution is only when money is exchanged.
(The definition of prostitution in law needs to change to start with.)
By choice, she decides to become a high-society prostitute, who has to speak excellent English and behave sophisticated, and, she learns the tricks of the trade!
(I fail to understand why the lady who is so eager to train her for the profession of prostitution was unavailable to teach her skills like computers, English language, etc.)
The lack of skills was the main reason for Vibha not finding a job, and the solution lies in opening skill imparting centers in small towns, especially for women, and this ought to be done by the Government unless it wants to use the women’s commodification as an economic resource.
When in profession, Vibha becomes accustomed to its ways and, in a way, starts enjoying the profession. Being a high-society prostitute, she is lucky to get lots of money, lives in a lavish house in a high-society neighborhood without any raising of eyebrows.
(This wouldn’t be possible for 99.9% of girls joining the profession even if they are highly qualified for it.)
The whole corporate machinery helps her prosper in the profession.
If this is the reality, the law enforcement needs to really get working. What some of the corporates were doing definitely amounts to various offences under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act.
Vibha, after earning money, doesn’t make any attempts to acquire skills for other professions and continues in the prostitution profession by choice. The lucky girl also gets an idiot to marry her.
(I don’t understand how can a person persist in marrying a prostitute whose only qualification is that, when in trouble, she can utter a perfect “Hanuman Chalisa”. Only an idiot can agree to marry a willing prostitute like her.)
Marriage is considered as one of the most idealistic institution, in which trust is the most important consideration, and the expected future infidelities can be big question marks. A willing prostitute who leaves prostitution because she gets a rich guy to marry her or is not ready to leave prostitution even after marriage is not fit for marriage: A prostitute has every right to get married and lead a normal life, but not as a prostitute thereafter. The harsh reality that marriage and prostitution can’t go together, has to be made pretty apparent to all prospective and willing prostitutes (in whatever form and under whatever label). Of course, a woman can make a choice not to get married at all, but I wonder how many women are willing to make such a choice. Last but not the least, prostitution is both the easiest and the worst choice for women: given that the male prostitutes are negligible, prostitution is another name for highly derogatory subordination of women by men. If women have to gain equality in jobs, they will have to become strong enough to say no to part-time and full-time prostitution not because the society doesn’t approve of it or it mars their marriage prospects but because they don’t want to be subordinated by men.
©2007 Ankur Mutreja