Fri, 11 Jun 2004

Teenage prostitution

Your June 5 editorial, The power of money, raised an oft- repeated issue. Prostitution has been called the world's oldest profession because the rich have always exploited the womenfolk of the poor. This will continue as long as the gulf between the rich and poor remains wide. The present day consumerist economy is making this gulf wider, hence, the pressure on youngsters to go for easy money. In one night they can make more than they could (or their parents could) in one month of "honest" work.

While it is a fortune to them, it is a pittance to the rich. This practice has now become less risky with the availability of condoms. This has also made the business of pimps more lucrative. Whatever you have unearthed is only the tip of the iceberg.

Women are exploited for men's pleasure in all societies. Some countries have even legalized prostitution. You will find teenage girls at conventional brothels also who -- like the school girls in question, who were tricked -- suffer there much against their will.

Then what to do? You cannot bridge the gulf between the rich and poor, you cannot provide employment -- decent employment -- for all, you cannot eliminate corruption, you cannot make the police or judiciary more "clean". It is no surprise that this case was uncovered in the capital city. Such things are more likely to happen in big cities, where the number of rich people is higher, and where the poor have easy access to "seductive" television programs.

The only thing that you can, and must do, in the present scenario is: print the photographs and full particulars of the accused, threaten to give those of the victims too, and chase such cases on a monthly basis till the culprits are punished. Lastly, start a weekly column on spiritual and religious teachings to strengthen the moral fiber of the people.

DEEPAK NARAIN, Bogor, West Java