Indian sex workers are “You are entitled to the same protection under the law,” a three-judge Supreme Court panel led by Justice L Nageswara Rao announced on Thursday, adding that “Criminal law applies equally to all instances regardless of consent or age.”
Judges ruled that police can not intervene or prosecute sex workers so long as they consent to be sex. While voluntary sex is legal, it’s not illegal. Those who run a brothel are still a criminal offense, but they won’t be taken into custody or victimized by police during raids of such places.
“Every citizen of this country, regardless of their profession, has Article 21 rights to live a dignified and decent life.,” the judges wrote. It is wrong to deny mothers working in the sex business custody or give children living in brothels or with a prostitute the right of access to their children.
Police must also not discriminate against victims of sexual assault who work as sex workers. The judges specifically commented on the police’s “Violent and brutal” attitude toward sex workers, lamenting “It is almost as though they were a group whose rights have not been recognized.” Justice Rao insisted that authorities refrain from forcing sex workers into shelters or correctional facilities against their will.
The court also warned the media to take the “It is important to not reveal the identity of sex workers during raid, arrest and rescue operations. [the]Disclosure of these identities.” While prostitution may no longer be prosecutable as a criminal offense, voyeurism remains so.
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A hearing was held by the court on July 27 to hear from them about their recommendations.
India’s prostitution laws ban solicitation and public prostitution, as well as brothel ownership, without explicitly banning the practice of sex work itself.
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