“Police Must Respect Sex Workers” – Court’s Order Created Waves In Social Media

Written by Dhiwaharan Published on May 26, 2022 | 19:05 PM IST | 214

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In a significant order, The Supreme court ordered the Police not to interfere or take criminal action against consenting sex workers. The court made it clear that prostitution is a profession and sex workers are entitled to dignity and equal protection under the law. The order created waves in social media with hashtag “Sex Workers” and “Prostitution” trending in the micro blogging social media site with many tweets welcoming the order.

“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. When it is clear that the sex worker is an adult and is participating with consent, the police must refrain from interfering or taking any criminal action” A three judge bench headed by Justice L Nageshwara Rao said.

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“It need not be gainsaid that notwithstanding the profession, every individual in this country has the right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution” the bench added.

Further, the bench ordered that sex workers should not be arrested, penalised, harassed or victimised in raids on brothels since voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful.

In addition, the court also said that the child of a sex worker should not be separated from the mother merely on the ground that she is in the sex trade. “Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children” noted the court.

Further, if a minor is found living in a brothel or with sex workers, it should not be presumed that the child was trafficked. The court also ordered the Police to not discriminate against sex workers who lodge a complaint, especially if the offence committed against them is of sexual nature. Sex workers who are victims of sexual assault should be provided with every facility, including immediate medico-legal care”

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“It has been noticed that the attitude of the police to sex workers is often brutal and violent. It is as if they are a class whose rights are not recognized” said the court and asked media to take utmost care in not revealing the identity of sex workers whether as victim or as accused.

The court also made it clear that the use of condoms should not be construed by the police as evidence of offence by the sex workers and suggested that sex workers who are rescued and produced before a magistrate be sent to correctional homes for no less than two-three years. Next hearing of the case has been moved to July 27 and the court has asked the centre tk give it’s response to these recommendations.

Here’s how internet reacted to the high court’s order  :

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