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After invoking special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has recognised sex work as a “profession”. Thus, the practitioners are entitled to dignity and equal protection under the law.
What are the key highlights of the Supreme Court’s direction?
Every individual in this country has a right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution. This also includes sex workers.
Directions to Police: “Sex workers are entitled to equal protection of the law. Criminal law must apply equally in all cases, on the basis of ‘age’ and ‘consent’.”
If the sex worker is an adult and is participating with consent, the police must refrain from interfering or taking any criminal action.
Held brotherly unlawful: But the court also observed that “voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful.
Protection for sex worker’s child: A child of a sex worker should not be separated from the mother merely on the ground that she is in the sex trade. The court also observed, “Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children.”
Further, if a minor is found living in a brothel or with sex workers, it should not be presumed that the child was trafficked. In such cases, if the sex worker claims that he/she is her son/daughter, tests can be done to determine if the claim is correct and if so, the minor should not be forcibly separated.
Legal protection to sex workers against abuse: The court ordered the police to not discriminate against sex workers who lodge a criminal complaint, especially if the offence committed against them is of a sexual nature. The court held that the Sex workers who are victims of sexual assault should be provided with every facility including immediate medico-legal care.
Directions to media: The media should not to reveal the identities of sex workers, during arrest, raid and rescue operations, whether as victims or accused. Similarly, they should not publish or telecast any photos that would result in disclosure of such identities.
|Read more: Amending Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act to provide labour rights for sex workers|
Source: The post is based on the article “Supreme Court recognises sex work as a ‘profession” published in The Hindu on 26th May 2022.