Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Recently Amit Varma had written about Victimless crimes. I agreed with him that prostitution should be legalized coz no victims no crimes. However, I disagreed with the logic of applying the same reasoning on Sucides.

My logic was that if a person attempts suicide his/her close ones and relatives are the victims of the act that’s when Zen Babu corrected me. His logic : If I don’t study for my exams my close ones are affected adversely, therefore not studying should also be a crime.

Going by this logic, my wearing a seat-belt or helmet is also a victimless crime. Can I not decide what is right for me: investing Rs150 in a helmet or risking my life??

Do comment.


zen babu said...


First a correction - your NOT wearing a helmet/seatbelt is a victimeless crime.

As for your point, absolutely - it does quaify as a victimless crime. There are two reasons why one could still support such a rule though

1) "Assumption of intellect" - the public often does not know what is good for it. Even when they know, they are reluctant to follow it. If you want to build up a society/culture where people by themselves wear helmets, you first enforce a rule and the culture will slowly develope - then you can remove the rule.

2) Whenever there is an accident, very often the state has to bear a large part of the cost if the victim is poor and goes to a subsidised govt hospital. Enforcing a rule that reduces the injury in an accident is a good way to deal with this.

The second argument could also be made against suicide. The first argument is argued to be non-true by some, and considered to be non-ethical, even if true by some (libertarians and other assorted "freedom" believers).

The key difference, of course, is that in a suicide, the person WANTS to take his own life. In an accident, in 99 times out of 100, the victim doesn't want to , he/she is simply foolish/unlucky.

Thus, it is possible to make an ethical case for the introduction of the helmet/seatbelt rule. It is also quite possible to rebut this case. I am sitting on the fence on this one.

Criminalizing suicide, however, is in my opinion ethically indefensible. It is nothing but a throwback to christian morality where taking your own life was considered a sin.

Blogger Bhaiyya said...

1. Yes, NOT wearin- thats what I meant.

2. Chiristian morality.... My stand is well known on that front.

3. Suiciding and Not wearing are identical apart from the necessary desire to die.

4.The second point you make is not really the reason for making NOT making wearing of helmets and sealtbelts a legal offense.(Though I get what u r tryin to convey.) Also, not necessarily but Point1 holds for suicides also.

5. Aman is good enough. BB aint necessary.

zen babu said...

It was Milton Friedman who said - "freedom includes the freedom to be foolish". He was of the opinion that the the differences in opinion on the seatbelt rule were a very accurate measure of how strongly you believed in individual freedom. If you truly believ in the supremacy of individual freedom - you'd oppose any such rules. Libertarians thus, should be principally against any such rule. That I'm on the fence on this one is a true indicator of my world-view. I'm a centrist, but I by and large agree with most philosophical premises of libertarianism.

Prateek Singh said...


Ok we had a long discussion about whether prostitution should be legalized in India or not. You had your points as usual pertaining to cultural & spiritual aspect of the matter and speaking as usual in an idealist way. Anyways you had your chance and now its mine. So here I go…
Prostitution was, is and will always be there in the society as long as men are there. It can’t be eradicated and can’t be cured. Let’s go through some stats. In Holland prostitutes pay 19% of their income as VAT. In Australia, leading brothel, Daily Planet, is listed on stock exchange for the past two years. According to Italian interior ministry around 45% of its adult male population pays a visit to a prostitute at least once a year. A survey by BBC yielded that Belgium prostitution raises around 50 million euros in revenues annually. So the question arises is whether the oldest trade known to mankind is really bad or not. After all it’s a win – win situation for both the parties. Women gets money and customer gets satisfaction. And above all they’re also human beings and they deserve to live and earn like any other guy out there. They’re also entitled to retirement plans, employment benefits, insurance, medical facilities et al. Why should we subject them to exploitation by pimp, police and so called human activists? Why?
As per last estimate, though not authenticated by govt. as it is illegal; there are around 2.3 million prostitutes in India. They wont be surviving in this world & business had they not be getting enough money. That means they are getting enough money & customers. But since its illegal they are being exploited again & again by various number of elements. Consider this scenario: you approach a pimp for the services and he demands Rs. 300 from you. He then readies the prostitute by saying that her going rate is Rs. 150 after deducting his commission. Little did she know that his commission is almost equal or maybe greater than her own earnings? That’s exploitation by pimp. Now police rounds her up and demand favors in different ways, sexually or economically. That’s exploitation by police. In the meantime they’re also subjected to Sexually Transmitted Diseases like AIDS, Gonorrhea etc. and end up acting as AIDS carriers and transmitters. No wonder India has the largest population of AIDS victims. Another scenario develops when they got pregnant. Now if the offspring is a boy, he takes up crime or starts his pimping and if it’s a gal no prizes for guessing where she’ll end up. Now since its illegal it also gives rises to trafficking of gals from Nepal and other states. Other problems are drug trafficking via prostitutes to customers, since they’ve less source of income or sometimes forced into it by their pimps. Child prostitution also increases as they don’t have much choice. And also their customer base is subjected to imprisonment under government anti-prostitution law. If going by the current conviction rate, it’ll be around 92%. Good rate but in a country like India where the conviction rate for heinous crimes like murder and kidnapping are 35% & 27.4% it’s a pure irony.
Now if only govt. can legalize the whole thing, the prostitutes can earn their money. Regular checkup camps can be set up. Proper infrastructure like schooling for their offspring, brothels et al. can be erected through the revenues generated in the form of tax. If a prostitute earns around Rs. 150 in a day and works 20 days a month then the total revenue thus generated by the prostitutes in India will amount to Rs. 8280 crores. Quite a big figure indeed. Bet this is more than the turnover of many companies in Indian market. So why can’t we legalize the business? Why? Even a more conservative country than us like Bangladesh allows and gives license to prostitutes if they don’t have any other means to earn. We’re way behind and it’s about time we do something about it. After all pleasure can’t be outlawed.

Blogger Bhaiyya said...

@ P Singh:

As far as I can remember, I have always been FOR prostitution and thar I am the last person who would not want reason out the CULTURAL and SPIRITUAL(me and spiritual?????) aspect of anything.

I do doubt "the govt generating revenue by legalising prostitution" aspect, inspite of that AYE for prostituation.

zen babu said...


why do you doubt the "govt generating money through legalising prostitution" bit ? Prateek has presented avery cogent case with ample facts and figures in terms of VAT percentages etc. When you legalize a profession, you make it taxable. This increases the tax net and hence the tax revenue.

P.S : get rid if the word verification. Its irritating and rather unnecessary.

Blogger Bhaiyya said...

I dis agreed for morethan 1 reason

Rs 150 per day
20working days
12 months

Rs 36000 per annum.
This income does not make the prostitutes liable to pay IT.
Though, they can be charged VAT

Again, for paying VAT they must maintain a database of all their customers and must give reciepts to their customers. LOL.

The practical technicalities of implementing the laws is what I think made the law impractical.

Although, just because a law is tough to implement does not mean we do not implement the law at all.

Actually a lil bzy abhi..
will elaboratee in a while.

P.S:- I dint have to worry about the Verification. Though have removed it, now. :)

Nithya N said...

i don't know about others but the insurance company is surely a pitiful victim of your act. ;P

zen babu said...

Aman, database of customers is not needed, only receipts are. It works very simply, the "madame" of the brothel (or anyone who runs the show there) deals with all the money transactions. The sex-workers are like the employees of that organisation and this madame is the manager,etc and are paid salaries, or commissions - depending upon the number of customers. (The internal salary details can be worked out between the madame and the sex-workers, we wouldn't know much about how it actually works), etc. To this day, even after implementing VAT and service tax, many goods and service providers escape the net - some because they don't want to pay up and some because they don't have the requisite infrastruture in place (to enable receipts etc). yet, Vat has led to added revenue. When one implements a law, it need not work to 100% efficiency. Even if one brings 10% of all sex-workers under the tax net, revenues will be increased substantially

Post a Comment