The Discourse on Prostitution in India Essay

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The Discourse on Prostitution in Colonial India The exploitation of prostitution has been considered to be a serious global issue in a majority of the countries around the world. “Prostitution, as we have sought to show, has in India as in every other civilized country a distinct history of its own” (The History of Prostitution in India). Considering this, it can be examined how prostitution, or “social evil”, became a marker in discussion of a civilized society for Indian reformers. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prostitution started to become a topic of debate in many regions, particularly in Europe and its colonies. As the Contagious Diseases Acts was introduced in Britain with thought to regulate prostitutes, the issue took center stage in the late nineteenth century. Once the same Acts were executed in the Empire, the debate then stimulated in India, one of Britain’s most important colonies. The late nineteenth century in India was a period of reform, especially in Bengal, but also a period in which race relations in the Empire became stiff. Following the 1857 Rebellion, India went under direct control of the British government, and the East India Company’s reliance on natives lost prominence. During this time, concern in the health of the British army in India pushed for regulation and medical examinations for prostitutes. Race relations worsened due to the anxiety of inter-racial sex between the colonizer and the colonized. Once British feminists became involved in trying to save their Indian sisters, whom were particularly prostitutes, the discourse on prostitution in India multiplied. Moving into the beginning of the twentieth century, the concern over trafficking women raised political interests internationally in saving the victims. This happened as soon as it was acknowledged that there were ‘white’ women living as

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