Supreme Court recognizes sex work as a ‘profession’, and strict instructions issued

Supreme Court considered prostitution as a profession, now police will not be able to harass, and strict instructions were issued.

The Supreme Court said, the police should treat all sex workers with respect and should not abuse them verbally or physically. No one should be forced to do any sexual activity.

  • All states and all union territories have been ordered by the Supreme Court not to interfere with the work of sex workers. According to the court, police should not take criminal actions against adult and consensual sex workers because “sex work is a profession“.

The Supreme Court ruled that sex workers have the right to dignity and equal protection under the law. In the SC, a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gaval, and AS Bopanna issued 6 directions to protect the rights of sex workers. These directions said that sex workers are also entitled to equal protection under the law.

So the police should not act…

The bench said, when it becomes clear that the sex worker is an adult and is doing this work of his own free will, the police should refrain from interfering with her and taking criminal action.

The court said, every person in this country has the right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution. In addition, the court ordered that sex workers should not be arrested or harassed when the police conduct raids. As a result Sex work is not illegal voluntarily, only running a brothel is illegal.

The court said, a woman is a sex worker, and her child should not be separated from her mother just because of her sex worker tag. Sex workers and their children also have the right to fundamental protection and dignified life. If a minor is found to be residing in a brothel or is found to be living with a sex worker, the child should not be deemed to have been trafficked.

Medico-legal care

The court said that if a sex worker is sexually assaulted, she should be provided with all facilities available to the victim of sexual assault. This includes immediate medical aid under the law. The court said, it has been observed that the police adopt a cruel and violent attitude towards sex workers. As a result, there is a section whose rights have not been recognized. The Police and other law enforcement agencies should be sensitive to the rights of sex workers.

The court said, sex workers also have the right to all the basic human rights and other rights stipulated in the constitution for the citizens. The bench said, the police should treat all sex workers with respect and should not abuse them verbally or physically. Nor should they be forced to do any sexual activity.

Strict instructions were issued.

Not only this, the court said that an appeal should be made to the Press Council of India to issue appropriate guidelines so that the identity of sex workers is not revealed during arrest, raid, or any other campaign, whether she is the victim or the accused. Also, no such picture should be broadcast, which would reveal his identity.

The Supreme Court has directed the states to conduct surveys of shelter homes so that adult women who have been detained against their will, are reviewed and action can be taken for their release in a time-bound manner. The court said that the things used by sex workers for their health and safety should not be treated as criminal material nor should they be produced as evidence.

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Hearing on the petition filed regarding the problems of sex workers

The Supreme Court gave these orders on the recommendation of the panel formed for the rehabilitation of sex workers. The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed regarding the problems faced by sex workers during the Pandemic.

SC ordered that governments and legal service authorities organize workshops for sex workers during this time. This is so that they can know about their rights, what is allowed and what is not under the law. Sex workers can also be told how they can prevent harassment at the hands of traffickers and police by reaching out to the judicial system for their rights. The bench said that every person in this country has the right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

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