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IS LAW SILENT ON MALE PROSTITUTION?

Today the imaginary figures of ‘incubus’ and ‘succubus’ can frequently be found in real human form, albeit at a price. There is a seller and a buyer, the product is ‘sex’. This is an age-old profession called ‘prostitution’. The term ‘prostitute’ is derived from the Latin word, ‘Prostituta’. Although, the majority of prostitutes are females, there are also gay prostitutes, lesbian prostitutes and hetero-sexual male prostitutes (Gigolos).

Prostitution is the practice of engaging in sexual relations in exchange for money or some other material benefit. Prostitution is often considered as women’s business in every corner of the world. Women are generally involved in prostitution to make a living or out of fun and promiscuity. However, there is a significant emerging market of liberated women who pay for sexual pleasure from men. Around 80% of the estimated 42 million sex workers worldwide are female, that means that rest of the 20% are male escorts. Demand for male escorts from an exclusively female clientele is on the rise, with a quarter of Australia’s 516 male sex workers now catering to women, a survey of websites in 61 countries has found.

Whereas, according to the survey conducted by researchers from QUT’s Crime and Justice Research Centre and the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, in United Kingdom, 50% of the 5,487 male escorts cater to women and couples. In 2008, a scholarly paper revealed 300,000 male prostitutes (serving either sex) were under the age of 16 years.

With women fighting for gender equality, access to economic independence, job status, and yearning for unabated sexual pleasure, there is evidence of growth in this emerging phenomenon of male prostitution market across the globe. New technologies like internet and mobile phones have promoted awareness of male sex work. Internet has also helped in safeguarding the privacy and anonymity for potential male/female clients. There is no need for gigolos to cruise public places, running the risk of arrest or violence.

Professional escorts (indoor sex workers) usually advertise in print media through spa services or else on male escorting websites independently or through an escort agency. However, such websites may face legal problems; as in 2015, a well-known American website, Rentboy.com was shut down by the United States Department of Homeland Security and its operators were charged for facilitating prostitution. However, recent research suggests a substantial growth in numbers of online escorts worldwide.

Generally when we talk about prostitutes, mistresses and concubines, we usually think of women. Royal history across the globe is full of the mention of ‘royal mistresses’. To mention a few, Madame de Pompadour, who was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to 1751; Nell Gwynm, a long-time mistress of King Charles II of England and Scotland. There were hetaerae (prostitute of ancient Greece) like Aspasia, who was the live-in partner of statesman Pericles around 445 BC or Phryne, an ancient Greek courtesan. Marie Du Plessis was the French courtesan and mistress to a number of prominent and wealthy men, or the more recent women like Xaviera Hollander (The Happy Hooker).

On the contrary ‘male prostitution’ is not a new phenomenon. It has been found in almost all modern and ancient cultures, though its prevalence has not been so common and prominent as that of female prostitution. In ancient times, male prostitution alongside female prostitution has been mentioned being practiced in sacred shrines by Pagan cultures in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. Male prostitution is also attested to be practiced in Graeco-Roman culture in New Testament.

One can find the mentions of male prostitutes in novels and cinemas in the West since 1960s. Quite often male prostitutes have been portrayed as tragic figures in films; such as, Oscar-winning film, Midnight Cowboy (1969), is about a tragic gigolo; My own Private Idalo (1991) is about friendship of two young hustlers; Mandragora (1997) is about young runaways who are manipulated in to the dark underground world of prostitution, and Mysterious Skin (2004) in which a hustler has a history of molestation.

Male prostitution is the act or practice of men providing sexual services to women or homosexual men as well, from whom he receives payment. Male prostitutes as of today have varied services to provide with different terminologies on mutually acceptable fee-for-service arrangement.

They may be referred as dancing partners, nude models, masseurs, rent-boy, male escort, gigolos (implying female customers), hustler (more common for those soliciting in public places), etc. A large number of escorts catering to men and women engage in ‘non-tactile’ services such as romance, tenderness, massage therapy and ‘companionship’, suggesting that sex is only part of the holistic service, where intimacy and emotional comfort is equally important to sexual pleasure.

Professor John Scott in his survey report has quoted Maxime Durocher, a male sex worker since 2011, as saying, “Many of our clients come to see us saying (sometimes in tears) that they love their partner and they want to stay with them, but they are missing something that needs to be addressed. They can’t continue living like this. They might need more tenderness, understanding, somebody to talk to, satisfying sex, certain sexual acts, or simply variety, diversity, novelty, something new.”

Durocher continues, “Whatever they need, there are only two solutions: getting it or leaving their partner. So by satisfying their missing desires, we provide them the opportunity of not breaking-up relationships. We are most of the time, the glue that keeps them together with spouses.”

Ian Daly in January, 2010, had written about a 25 year old gigolo, ‘Markus’ (his working name), who had been registered as the first legal male prostitute of America. Expressing his views, Markus had said that to become successful in this type of venture, you have to act not as a prostitute but as a surrogate lover, encompassing everything that’s required of you, not only physically but emotionally and psychologically too. “You can’t necessarily say, oh, it’s just a job. You actually have to say it’s a passion.

This actually isn’t about selling my body. This is about changing social norms. I view myself as an artist, a performer. It’s a craft. Whichever woman may walk through my door, she is appreciated. A surrogate lover will love that woman for a whole hour and she will be leaving much more empowered, and much more confident in herself. My sphincter isn’t for sale, but what is for sale is companionship. A gigolo must have the heart of a saint, the mind of a philosopher and the skills of a devil. I have the mentality and the emotions and the gumption to make them feel the way they want to feel and if I complete that through sex too, which I am a very good performer in that respect, too, my mission is accomplished.”

There are reports of increasing ‘inverted sex tourism’, where wealthy foreign women are heading to poor Caribbean and African countries to purchase sexual pleasure and find temporary boyfriends, who will fill the roles of sexual partner, dancing, dining and tour companion, etc.

Women on sex tourism may be of any age, but generally they are middle-aged women searching for younger (surrogate) lovers, for satisfying their biological, emotional and psychological needs, thereby making their fantastic fantasies come true. However, decade back, a BBC report on Kolkata in India had revealed that in a traditionally conservative society, Indian women of substance are too getting into the act of buying sex.

In the absence of male brothels, gigolos usually operate through Internet or walk down certain selective locations of metropolitan cities including Delhi and Bangalore, where the sex -starved rich and upper-middle class honey bee in female human form keep humming around the muscular men, endowed with overly visible traits of masculinity. Women coming in costly cars first pick up the boy who attracts them to have sex and then they bargain. However, for the most desirable handsome and strong gigolo, price hardly matters. In case the level of attraction exceeds the desired limits, women fall in ‘real love’ for them and offer costly gifts besides the agreed amount.

Brothels of female prostitutes are common all over the world. Even men-to-men brothels exist. For example, in January, 2010, a brothel of gay men in Switzerland was opened in an industrial area of Zurich.

Julie Bindel, in an article, ‘The myth of the male brothel’ wrote in The Guardian, on August 22, 2010, “Women ever wondered how you could attract scintillating company from any number of hunky men who will focus entirely on you and your needs? Simple, just get out your credit card, a male brothel will soon be opening near you, or at least that is the impression from blogs and news outlets.”

In January, 2010, the International media had jumped on a story of a Nevada brothel hiring Markus, a former marine and porn star, for its female punters, claiming that he would be the first legal male prostitute in the United States, but weeks after he left having received fever then 10 customers. One male escort who had been selling sex for 14 years in New Zealand said that women would not feel comfortable in a brothel.

As such, like female prostitutes, pimps are not generally involved with gigolos. Most of the gigolos operate independently. However, certain agencies are playing the roles of a pimp. They give attractive advertisements on their websites which reads as, “Lucrative jobs for young, handsome men in Bangalore”, “Live life king size. Give pleasure and earn money, call now to join.”
These agencies work like a broker, taking their cut, out of the deals.

Quite often factors like differences in age, social status and economic status are cited between the sex worker and his client, but the same is not a consideration as what matters is money for work and pleasure for client. The same formula applies in amorous relationships that do not involve direct payment for sexual services, and therefore do not fit the definition of prostitution, but which may be viewed socially as quasi-prostitution (in that there is a benefactor and beneficiary) for companionship or sex. The older partner in such relationships may be referred as ‘sugar daddy’ or ‘sugar mummy’, the younger lover may be called a ‘kept boy’, ‘boy toy’ or ‘rent boy’.

The ghost of prostitution did not spare India from its curse. To deal with the issue laws were enacted from time to time. Renowned advocate Navin Jaggi and his associate Sarahna Ekka said, “The Parliament of India enacted the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 (herein referred as SITA), as India was signatory to the United Nations International Convention for the ‘Suppression of Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of Others’ of 1950. The SITA was amended twice in 1978 and 1986. The 1978 amendment enhanced the punishments for certain offences in the Act. The 1986 amendment changed the nomenclature of the Act as “The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956” (herein referred as ITPA).

One of the major significant changes in the Act was that the phrase “women and girls” was replaced with “person” throughout the Act. This was done to include all persons, regardless of whether male or female, who were abused sexually for commercial purposes.” Section 2 (f) of the ITPA specifically says that the term ‘prostitute’ is to be construed accordingly – which is to say that the word is to be interpreted as per the facts and circumstances of each individual case. The key is to interpret the statute with the legislative intent in mind, i.e. what was the intention of the Parliament when it first drafted the statute. Surely, the Parliament had no intention that it would protect the female prostitutes but leave aside male prostitutes. The phrase ‘female prostitutes’ was used only because in those days, female prostitution was more common, and now as times have changed, males have also entered into this field as a means of livelihood. Just because male prostitution has not been explicitly mentioned, the Indian Judiciary to incorporate the rules of natural justice and utilise the dynamic methods of statutory interpretation and give meaning to the word as per its best judgement.

Giving his views, Major General (Retd.) Nilendra Kumar, former Judge Advocate General said, “Male prostitution as a phenomenon is not unknown in India. The practice is derogatory and is linked to poverty, stigma, exploitation and vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases. Further it may give rise to social exclusion, loss of esteem and strain of family cohesiveness apart from drug and alcoholic dependence. It is therefore vital that this malpractice be legally equated with and attract sanctions and restrictions like female prostitution.

Prerna Kumari, leading Supreme Court lawyer, expressing anguish on male prostitution said, “India is known for its cultural values and rich social traditions. Prostitution of any kind is a curse for our society. This emerging trend had never been heard earlier by us. This type of vulgarity will never be acceptable to one and all.”

Prerna lamented and criticised those female folk who out of frustration and nymphomaniac attitude are misusing their rights and throwing their dignity in the dustbin in the name of liberalism. Male sex workers and their clients should be prosecuted under ITP Act and the police should swing into action to nab them.

Yawer Qazalbash, a noted lawyer having 60 years of practice and author of many books said, “Prostitution was said to be the oldest profession, but the conceived view was related to females only. Lately the perception gradually changed and became generally gender neutral, as gigolos, escorts, companions or transgenders, etc; were included. Earlier the ‘inverted sex tourism’ came in vogue in the West, but it has been reported by BBC that now Indian women of means in the changing mores are ready to pay for buying sex. Indian media has occasionally reported many ‘hen parties’ or the likes to collectively gratify their libidos employee male prostitutes. Individual cases of women buying sex have become not uncommon.

Section 2 (f) of the Immoral Traffic(Prevention) Act, 1956, was amended twice through Act 46 of 1978 and then Act 44 of 1986(wef 1987) defined ‘prostitution’, wherein phrase ‘sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes’ was substituted.”

Qazalbash further said, that the phrase of ‘women and girls’ was also substituted by ‘person’ in ITP Act. As such, all types of prostitutes and their clients should be prosecuted at par, failing of which it will be the violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

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