Taking a step ahead towards decriminalisation of sex as a profession, the Supreme Court had declared that adult sex workers are have right to dignity and equal protection under law.

Constitution of India : Article 21. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Sex workers across the country has welcomed the apex court ruling. The court has given directions to the police to respect the rights of adult sex workers who had take up this as profession with consent. Such a person should not be arrested, penalised or harassed or victimised. They should not be forced to do any sexual activity. Verbal and physcial abuse of sex workers are also illegal.

In Budhadev Karmaskar vs State Of West Bengal 2011, where a sex worker was brutally murdered, the court observed that “sex workers are also human beings and no one has a right to assault or murder them”. In the judgement the court, exercising the powers under Article 142, also directed the Central and the State Governments to prepare schemes for giving technical/vocational training to sex workers and sexually abused women in all cities in India.

Constitution of India : Article 142
(1) The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout theterritory of India in such manner as may be prescribedby or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order1 prescribe
(2) Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself.

IMMORAL TRAFFIC (PREVENTION) ACT, 1956 was enacted in pursuance of the International Convention signed at New York on the 9th day of May, 1950, for the prevention of immoral traffic. The act defines a ‘brothel’ as a place that includes any house, room, conveyance or place, or any portion of any house, room, conveyance or place, which is used for purposes of sexual exploitation or abuse for the gain of another person or for the mutual gain of two or more prostitutes.

The court has directed the Governments to take a survey of such brothels and necessary measures for the rehabilitation of such workers. With the recent court ruling, it is expected that the law enforcing agencies shall consider the sex workers with dignity and with a more humane outlook. The provision shall definitely create a change in the attitude.

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