The Supreme Court, in a historical order, told police that they should refrain from interfering and taking criminal action against consenting sex workers, according to indiatoday.in.
The apex court added that “prostitution is a profession and sex workers are entitled to dignity and equal protection under the law.”
The bench added that sex workers should not be arrested, penalised, harassed, or victimised through raids on brothels because voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful.
A sex worker’s child should not be deprived of her mother’s care “on the ground that she is in the sex trade,” the court held. “Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children,” the it said
The court also instructed cops not to discriminate against sex workers who lodge a complaint, if the offence 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.
The court added media should take “utmost care to not reveal the identities of sex workers, during arrest, raid and rescue operations, whether as victims or accused and not publish or telecast any photo that would result in disclosure of such identities”.
The bench observed that use of condoms “should not be construed by the police as evidence of offence by sex workers. Sex workers rescued and produced before a magistrate shoiuld be sent to correctional homes for not less than two-three years.”
“In the interim, the sex workers could be kept in these homes and if the magistrate decides that the sex worker had consented, they could be let out,” the order stated.
The court has asked the Union govcernmemnt to respond to these recommendations on the next date of hearing which is July 27.
The apex court also added that “utmost care not to reveal the identities of sex workers, during arrest, raid and rescue operations, whether as victims or accused and not to publish or telecast any photos that would result in disclosure of such identities”.
Voyeurism is a criminal offence, the court said.
Both the Centre and States must involve sex workers or their representatives in the process of reformation of laws, the court pointed out.