Whether prostitution should be legalised or not in India has been a long standing debate, but actress Gauahar Khan, who has just featured as a sex worker in Begum Jaan, feels at least the issue has to be addressed if not legalised.
There are umpteen number of films made on the ordeals of sex workers.
Asked about her views on if prostitution should be legalised in India, Gauahar told, "Who am I to make that decision? I think, each to their own. It is very much here… So, to shut your eyes about it and say it doesn't exist is not helping the situation. So, don't legalise it but at least address it, at least know that it exists and kind of make it know for the society also."
In Srinit Mukherji's the actress essays the role of a sex worker named Rubina in a brothel whose madam is portrayed by Vidya Balan.
Elaborating on her views, Gauahar said: "It is not like you don't see prostitutes in cities like Mumbai or Delhi or anywhere else. They are there. The normal people know that they exist. So how about reaching out to that in a better way?
"There should be a channel of how you can protect them and their rights. It is a choice, it is a catch 22 situation though. I am no one to endorse it, I am no one to say it is right, I am just saying that it exists. It just needs to be dealt with."
Talking about the plight of sex workers in a country where poverty is not hidden, many get into the business to fend for themselves and their children. Gauahar believes education could make a difference.
"Prostitution is not exactly profession. It is there, it is looked down upon, which could be an ideology of people… But it is what they do to survive at the end of the day.
"I have not known a sex worker who has lived in a mansion. I know that they do that for survival and their children. They do these things to fend for themselves.
"They don't even have the medical support, they don't even have the knowledge of how to go about things. So it is a sorry state.
"Education is something that we need to give to them and make sure it reaches out to them when they can again empower themselves to lead a better life," said the actress, who also played a sex worker named Chand Bibi in the Parineeti Chopra-Arjun Kapoor starrer Ishaqzaade.
Gauahar says a film like Begum Jaan goes to say a lot about freedom of choice that people can exercise regarding their life.
"The reference point (from Begum Jaan) can be in any one's life… Everyone's life when it comes to a choice or a decision making.
"I want to specifically say that I would extend the concept to my life in terms of the career I want to take, the life I want to lead, the life partner I want to chose, the choices I want to make. Do I want to pursue a career or do I just want to get married… It is my choice.
"When you are able to take that with absolutely no regrets and with a fire in you… That is what we talked about in Begum Jaan," Gauhar said.