Time to scrap laws against victimless crimes?

One of my favourite bloggers, Amit Varma of India Uncut blogs about why its time to scrap laws against victimless crimes. He makes a passionate plea to legalise prostitution, homosexuality, drugs and betting on sports.

Take me, for example: I sell my skills as a writer, limited as they are, to write pieces such as this one. You no doubt have a job that involves selling your skills as well. Many people trade not their intellectual skills but physical labour. Most such trades, made to mutual benefit, are considered respectable. But when a prostitute offers her sexual services, that is somehow considered improper and unethical.

What is even odder is that in most countries, if two consenting adults get together and have sex, the state will not interfere – unless money has changed hands. On one hand, we sanctimoniously frown upon sex; on the other, we frown at commerce. The human race would not exist without either of these two.

Consider also that there would be much less scope for it if betting was legal and respectable business houses ran betting establishments. If HSBC, HDFC, Citibank and ICICI offered betting accounts just as they offer demat accounts, would you really trust your money to the shady underworld types who now run the show?

Our dubious sense of morality is responsible for all these stupid laws. In India, for example, section 377 of the Indian Penal Code effectively penalises homosexuality – a law that is said to have led to policemen running extortion rackets across the country. Even free speech can sometimes be a victimless crime, as a variety of laws make giving offence, especially on religious grounds, a crime.

Exactly my thoughts. I have forever argued that the only people who make money by making prostitution illegal is the underworld and the corrupt police. The police is even more complicit in the way that they take bribes from these brothels to keep them open and force themselves upon those hapless sex workers and ill treat them. Why dont we legalise it and make the sex workers pay taxes for the work that they do. Give them regular healthcare check ups and insist on asking the customer to wear a condom.

Also when two adult males of females want to have sex, why is it that the government wants to clamp down on it and make it a crime? We have the rights to vote at 18 yrs of age, but we would never be given the right to decide on who we should have sex with? Why is it that the governments are so hell bent on ruling us rather than serving us, which is what they are supposed to do in the first place?

Its high time, we climbed down from the stupid moral high grounds that we hold on to and have a scientific and analytical look at all the ills that prevade our society; and break the shackeles of the centuries old prejudices.

Read the full article here. A must read.



  1. Liju, completely agree with this….the laws are outdated, ridiculous and have no logical basis.

    Nice blog, by the way.

  2. Ottayan says:


    I agree with you about the need to bring prostitution and sex workers into the mainstream.

    Drugs and homosexuality or other sexual orientation are personal choices. You, me or the GOI should let them be.

    However, I am against legalizing betting sports or otherwise. Here the GOI and to an extent individuals like you and me have a social responsibility to see the gullible protected.

    You can be sure they will not have an account with the ICICI bank or any other bank. Their meager wages will be swindled and they will fall into the trap of the money usurers.

    I am sure you will agree.


  3. Quirky Indian says:


    The gullible are more vulnerable when it is illegal because there is no way to regulate or control something then.

    As things stand right now, those with meagre wages are still not protected. Perhaps they might have a better chance once there are laws and regulations on how to run this “industry”.

    Banning something has never been the solution.


  4. sagarika says:

    While I agree with his view that many victimless crimes ought to be abolished, I don’t think that “DC madam” was a victim. Considering that she supposedly ran a prostitution racket, who knows whether or not she coerced girls into prostitution?

  5. Sachin says:

    In a country where we have problem with cheer leaders…………how can u expect such a radical idea to be excepted…………
    per se what u are saying makes sense but is it practicable in “todays” India……….where we have MNS, SS, BJP et al……

  6. Liju Philip says:

    @Quirky Indian, thanks for dropping by. Legalising something can bring a business into the mainstream and reduce the incentive for the shady characters to get into it. A good example is making it free for the people to bring in 5kgs of gold into the country without attracting any duties. With one stroke, the govt broke the backs of the underworld who smuggled gold.

    @Ottayan, even i dont totally agree with Amit’s reasoning about drugs and gambling. I have seen enough homes, people getting destroyed because of getting entangled in those vices. But i still believe a fresh perspective can do some trick.

    @Sagarika, i havent read up about the DC madam, so cant comment on her. If the whole sex business was legal and men/women were free to pursue their choice of vocation, there wouldnt have been a character like the DC madam in the first instance. And there would have been no coercion into the business of any girl.

    @Sachin, morons like BJP, Shiv Sena, SS, BSP, SP, Commies etc will always be there. But we need to chart a different path. The same politician who objects to the cheerleaders shags to sleep every night thinking of them 😉

  7. Chintam says:

    If we can agree that marriage is the system that legally exists to serve the society in more than one way(that incldues sex), where comes the question of prostitution needing to be made legal and such a thing even to exist in our society. Yes, sex is very important and it is also a great thing that should be happening between 2 consenting adults but what’s wrong in waiting until getting married.

    Police and the rest of the things used in the argument is a problem on its own even outside of this prostitution and so cannot see that to being used to justify something else.

    With regards to prostitutes saying they do that willingly and even they prefer it to some other profession is to me like beggars saying that they prefer to beg which is easy. I think people who are questioning others still to possess age old prejudices and seeing things through middle-class prism must be wondering that is a bad comparison. But to me that is exactly what it is and sometimes, when going gets tough and also due to the circumstances. Then in such case, even stealing can be justified and we have to draw the line some where. I know, in stealing there is a victim but only ‘just’ if we consider the theive’s circumstances and the thing he/she is stealing. We should draw the line some where and devise systems in helping people in those circumstances.

    On the other hand, (looking at outside of the prism), i have great respect to those prostitutes who are brave enough to admit when put in spotlight. They may say they do it willingly but do they do that lovingly (Some might think, ‘yes’ better than what goes on in married couple sometimes) but what if they are acting. I wouldn’t risk it and behave like an animal. Otherwise, what’s the problem with the good old masturbration?:-) I would greatly believe in each and everybody doing lot better than selling their body, but with some help/guidance and that is where focus should be.

    The book ‘Maidanam’ in Telugu by Chalam written in the early 1900s actually talks in favour of prostitution but only when compared with what goes on in a married family which is a shame. But he also goes to the extent of a woman running away from her husband and madly in love with somebody that she also accepts her new found man (that she still loves )to go and have sex with someone else he fancies. Are those who are questioning the high moral ground taken by some opposing such things, are ready to buy into such view. I think that is GREAT in my view to be accepting to such levels but can it happen? Only then we should be talking about making all this legal or even encouraging such a thing is my view. Divorce is another legal route. This may have existed all these generations in some form or the other, it may be just me but i cannot imagine that being a profession.

    Sex and commerce are important but not to an extent that we degrade the society to such levels for future generations to inherit.

  8. I agree with Amit Varma. As you have already said, the very fact the Underworld prospers through drug laundering and prostitution proves that bans don’t work. It’s about time we changed our mindset.

  9. Liju Philip says:

    @Chintam, why should we wait till getting married for having sex? Just because there was a pattern earlier doesnt mean that we should follow it till eternity, rite? We have graduated from walking to cycles to bikes to cars, but when it comes to something as basic necessity as life and sex, why do we still hark back to the dark ages?

    At the end of the day, one cant stop a person from selling their skills and earning money. A driver driving the car has a good chance of dying in an accident one day, so that doesnt mean that we ban all cars from the road?

    The moot point here is that when i can sell my brains and expertise and make money, why cant a woman / man sell her/his body and make money? A worker laying the roads is also putting in physical work as is a sex worker. So who are we to draw the lines? India was always an open society with liberal values till the British imposed their strict victorian values on us. No wonder, we have some decades old rules criminalising homosexuality too. Those laws are a legacy of the british.

    Its time we looked at things from a new perspective and move towards a better future. Btw, have heard a lot about Chalam, but never got to read his books. Unfortunately, i cant read telugu. Wish i could get some English translation of his books somewhere.

    @Krishna, true, its time we discarded our old thinking and made some drastic changes.

  10. chintam says:

    I think i had submitted my comment here. Either it was lost some how or has been blocked 🙂

  11. Liju Philip says:

    @Chintam, I have checked thru the spam control, cant find it there either. maybe you can repost.

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