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ALAKA RAJEEV, 1930317, 1PSEng.

CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru.



The relevant social issue that I have chosen for this essay is ‘prostitution’. I chose this topic after

seeing ‘15-year-old girl forced into prostitution by 3 women in Chennai escapes’ on the

news. Prostitution has been prevalent since a long time and is said to be the oldest occupation to

exist till date. I will be focusing on ‘prostitution’ in the Indian context primarily.

After analysing the issue, the field of counselling psychology seems to be the most suitable field

in psychology that can address this problem and try to provide solutions for the same. Most of

the sex-workers in India are forced into this life and even when they do manage to get away from

this life, face serious emotional and adjustment problems since they’re ostracised by society.

I will be looking at various interventions that can be made to bring a change in the lives of

people who are forced to sell their bodies to sustain themselves and their families.



Prostitution in India can be said to have its origins in the ‘devadasi system’ that existed in ancient

India. Devadasis danced in temples and were used as entertainment for the ruling elites. From

this, the practice acquired an institutional status wherein pre-pubescent girls were dedicated to

the gods in temples, but were actually used as prostitutes that served the elites during those


The ‘devadasi belt’ which is on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border have several trafficking

structures. The women found here are forced into this profession because of desertion by

husband, fraud, force or because of their economic and social background.

‘’There are more than 100,000 female commercial sex workers in Bombay, “Asia’s largest sex

bazaar.” (Robert I. Friedman, 1996). There are several red-light areas in several metropolitan

cities that have continued to function despite laws and interventions. There is also a whole nexus

between the institutions of government and the people who run such trafficking rings. There are

people who handle payoffs and some who procure women and children for this trade. It is a very

organized institution that continues to grow since the demand for it doesn’t diminish and it in a

very objective sense can be said to be a profitable business. Child trafficking also exists and the

children that become part of this life usually never see or have a normal life after that.

The amount of physical and mental abuse and trauma that the sex-workers have to face as a

result of their profession is massive. Added to this is them being shunned from society, inability

to change to other professions because of lack of education , always being reminded of what they

did, all of which cause major psychological problem



Counselling psychology is a field where the psychologist will have the aim to improve the daily

functioning of his/her client by helping the client solve whatever problems they face on an

everyday basis and the psychologist will also try to empower the client to cope effectively with

challenges that one encounters. It will address all the spheres in a person’s life: emotional, social,

mental etc. They deal with individuals, groups or organisations. They help people to overcome

stressful conditions. They look at all the factors that could possibly influence a person’s behavior

from gender, ethnicity, race to culture, etc. Some of the areas that counselling psychologists

focus on are: how to cope with negative life events, personal and social adjustment, to establish

one’s identity, etc. Some of the procedures that they employ are: interventions, assessing the

prevalence of disorders, managing trauma, workshops that spread awareness about mental health

problems, rehabilitation and training programmes etc.



Prostitution has been present in India since a long time. Although there are several laws in place

that try to address the issue, there needs to be change that will tackle the problem at its roots.

From a psychological perspective, the steps that can be taken are as follows:

1) Workshops and Seminars.

The objective behind these is to spread awareness in society about prostitution and to

inititate discussions regarding the same, which will hopefully lead to the development of


Mostly, the steps that a counselling psychologist would take won’t lead to the end of the

problem, as their interaction with people who are sex-workers would mostly be on a one-on-one

basis, and therefore they’re only able to help a limited set of people.

2) Rehabilitation centres: Such centres should be established by and under governmental

supervision where women who have left this occupation are taught ways so as to deal

with the discrimination that they may face. Such centres should also teach them essential

life skills and provide job-training, so that they can work in another occupation and not

be forced to go back to prostitution again.

3) Guidance and counselling sessions.

Often, the people who are victims of this human trafficking or even sex-workers go

through a lot of physical trauma, which has to be worked through so that they can move

ahead in life. Also, because of unprotected sex, a lot of such workers end up contracting

HIV-AIDS and other such diseases which further lead to their ostracization.

4) Access to free mental health resources.

This is important as a lot of mental health resources are often restricted to the privileged

classes, who are able to afford psychological services.


In this essay, I first talked about prostitution in India so as to understand its origin and why and

how it continues today. From there, I then talked about what counselling psychology is and then I

moved on to providing solutions to tackle prostitution using the field of counselling psychology.

For this essay, I referred mainly to websites and have given references wherever possible for the



1. Aggarwal, A.A (2019,July 11). 15-year-old girl forced into prostitution by 3 women in

Chennai escapes. India today.

Retrieved from https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/15-year-old-girl-forced-into-


2. Prostitution and Psychology.



3. Counselling psychology.


4. NCERT Class 11 Psychology Textbook.

5. Prostitution in India.