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India Practices Double Standard Regarding Prostitution

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - An Indian state on Friday rejected a proposal by prostitutes to pay tax to the government in return for stopping police raids on brothels and checks on soliciting clients.

Officials in the eastern state of West Bengal said since prostitution was illegal, the government could not tax sex workers.

"Tomorrow, criminals will say we will pay taxes so don't catch us," Raj Kanojia, a top state police officer, said.

On Thursday, the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) -- an umbrella group of 65,000 sex workers in West Bengal -- announced that prostitutes would charge clients extra to help them pay tax.

"Even if we collect one rupee from each client it would boost the exchequer," Smarajit Jana, DMSC's chief adviser, said. "Let the government collect taxes legally, as prostitutes in any case pay the police hefty amounts to get away."

About four million clients visit red light areas under the control of DMSC every month in West Bengal.

Sex workers say they are harassed by police and picked up from brothels, hotels and nightclubs and jailed. They often have to pay bribes to officers to continue working.

Under Indian law, sex workers cannot solicit customers in public. Authorities tolerate brothels in some areas although police often raid them to rescue minors or to prevent women from being forced into the profession.

Prostitutes are already being "taxed" by crooked cops. Either accept their taxes or crack down on crooked cops, India!

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