Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Supreme Court Recognises Prostitution as a Profession

The apex court further said that any sex worker who is a “victim of sexual assault” should be provided with all facilities available to a survivor of sexual assault, including immediate medical assistance, in accordance with Section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973
May 27, 2022

In a landmark order, India’s Supreme Court recognised prostitution as a “profession” and ordered police to treat sex workers with respect. The SC further said that they should be given equal protection under the law and the police should refrain from harassing sex workers.

A bench of judges BR Gavai, L Nageswara Rao and AS Bopanna ruled on May 26 that police cannot arrest, punish, harass or victimise sex workers in brothel raids, as voluntary sex work is not illegal in the country. Only running a brothel is illegal.

“Needless to say, this basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children, who, bearing the brunt of social stigma attached to their work, are removed to the fringes of society, deprived of their right to live with dignity and opportunities to provide the same to their children,” the Supreme Court said while dealing with Centre’s reservation on certain recommendations of the panel.

Having noted the indignities and discrimination suffered by sex workers, the order passed said: “Notwithstanding the profession, every individual in this country has the right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The constitutional protection that is given to all individuals in this country shall be kept in mind by the authorities who have a duty under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956.”

Sex workers have also been instructed not to deprive their children of maternal care because of their involvement in prostitution.
The High Court further observed that sex workers charged with sexual offences or any other offence cannot be discriminated against and that the police must take action in accordance with the law. A sexually assaulted sex worker is entitled to benefits for other survivors, including immediate legal medical care.