By Preeti Malhotra, India Syndicate, 07/12/2009Yes, legalise sex trade, but then also legitimise graft Few years back as a practicing advocate, I made a suggestion to a senior bureaucrat in the Delhi Development Authority. I asked him to display 'bribe rate cards' behind each table in his office. Back then I was speaking on behalf of my clients who would come back to me cribbing about how converting their lease hold properties to free hold came with an 'unspecified' price tag. Nobody knew how much the clerk, the officer, the department head would ask for, unless they actually quoted a price. And no two clients would report the same price for the same job. Imagine the returns to the state exchequer by way of income tax, if my suggestion was adhered to. Decriminalizing crime is actually a major leap in ensuring a crime free society. The courts have already set a trend by decriminalising same sex marriages. To me the Supreme Court of India's suggestion on legalising prostitution sounds somewhat similar. The apex court is batting for over 3 million sex workers. As per 2003-04 figures 26 per cent of sex workers come from the two states of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. The Court said, "...nowhere in the world have they been able to curb it by legislation." For a minute one would think that the court is taking a dig at yet another failed legislation, but then Justice Dalveer Bhandari was only citing precedent. Sex trade is legal in Brazil, Philippines, Thailand, Canada, England, France, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia. May be we should look at the rate of sex crimes in these nations to appreciate the point made by the honourable court. And this is not to say that the health issues involved in the matter are any less significant. A study conducted by Kirby R Cundiff way back in 2004 tested sex crimes versus prostitution hypothesis against data from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The scholar argued that availability of sex outlets can drastically bring down sex crimes. He said if prostitution was legalised in the United States, the rape rate would come down by 25 percent - a decrease of approximately 25,000 rapes per year.