Religious Practices and Tribal Customs, Not Just Economics, are to Blame for Child Prostitution in India
Child prostitution and civilizations have gone hand in hand all over the world for over 4,000 years. Ancient religious beliefs and social customs provide the earliest accounts of child prostitution's origin, in the form of both scripture and surviving social systems that have been practiced for thousands of years. It is rather difficult to enumerate or identify all the factors conducive to prostitution, because it is often argued that prostitution has its roots deep in the fabric of society. India is no exception. It is important to trace the history of prostitution within the region, as this is essential to see how practices in the past may account not only for the negative and unequal position of women in present day society, but also the reinforcement of toleration for violent assaults and forced prostitution. While economic deficiency is often attributed as a main factor in the continuity and durability of the trade in areas such as Africa and Eastern Europe, India defies this wide-held belief. Over the past few decades, India has made great progress in terms of economic growth. In less than twenty years, India's per capita income has increased by more than 40% ("Despite Growing Wealth...", 2013). However, despite rapid the economic growth in India over the past several decades, child prostitution is still an extremely prevalent industry due to Hindu practices, Christian and Islamic scriptural precedents, historical and tribal customs, and Indian caste expectations. In the sacred books of the Hindu religion, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, there are frequent references to prostitution (Acharya, 2011). In these texts, dancing girls and all other unmarried women in the palace of the Kings were referred to as "Raja Veshyas", which means "Royal Prostitutes" in English (Acharya, 2011). This attitude towards women reflected the belief that all females, no matter what status, profession, or even age, could be used as objects of sexual pleasure at any time. However, the Hindu religion is not alone in its acceptance of child prostitution within sacred texts. The Old Testament references marriage of older males to significantly younger females, and the sexual intercourse or "consummation" that occurs between them. Laws found in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 also condone the rape of all virgin girls, with no reference to age minimums. Paired with that excerpt, an ancient Jewish scripture called the Mishnah decrees that “a girl three years and a day is betrothed by intercourse." This law allows men to marry girls as young as three, as long as sexual intercourse between the girl and man take place (Kappur, 2013). Also, and perhaps most blatantly, "... the Prophet [Muhammed] married her when she was six years old, and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old..." (Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64).
He was 54 at the time.
Hinduism and Islam are the two most prevalent religions in India, with Hindus making up 80.5 % of the population, and Islam making up 13.4% ("Indian Child Prostitution Statistics", 2008). Due to the high percentage of a faithful population that has its focus on religions that accept, and even promote, child sexual abuse and pedophilia, it is no shock that child prostitution has a long history in India. In early history, prostitutes were referred to as "Ganikas" in Hindi. The great epics, besides giving an account of the high status and privileges that Ganikas and courtesans enjoyed at that time, also relate that abuses had set in. Prostitutes in the possession of early Kings and Sultans were historically brought to war in order to serve...
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