'Consenting' sex workers should not be arrested: SC panel

According to the panel, women in sex trade should enjoy an equal right to protection.

New Delhi: In a bid to protect the rights of sex workers, a Supreme Court panel said that adults “participating with consent” in prostitution should not face criminal action or interference by the police, according to reports.

“Whenever there is a raid on a brothel, since voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful, the sex workers should not be arrested or penalised or harassed or victimised,” a panel member was quoted as saying.

The panel recommended deleting the offence of “soliciting” Under Section 8 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1956, in which sex workers cannot solicit or seduce and the same is punishable with six months' jail and a fine of Rs 500. It was set up in 2011 and is likely to submit its report next month.

Prostitution is still illegal in India and the existing laws make sex workers vulnerable to police action.

It was also reported that the panel, headed by senior advocate Pradip Ghosh, is expected to come up with measures to rehabilitate sex workers who do not want to continue prostitution in order to help them live with dignity.

According to studies, a majority of sex workers in India are forced into the trade by poverty.

Asserting that women in sex trade enjoy an equal right to protection, the panel recommended that police should register complaints of sex workers and act as per the law.

It also suggests amending the law which has a provision of jail upto 10 years for persons above 18 living on the earnings of prostitution.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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