India’s Supreme Court recognizes sex work as profession

India’s Supreme Court recognizes sex work as profession


Published: 15:59 27 May 2022  



Sex work is no longer illegal in India. The country’s top court on Thursday ruled in favor of the profession. According to the Indian Supreme Court, sex work is a profession like any other profession and sex workers have equal “rights and dignity”. In other words, prostitution has been recognized as a “profession” like the other five common jobs.

At the same time, the apex court of India has directed the police not to interfere in the work of sex workers or take any legal action against them, NDTV reported the information on Friday. 

According to media reports, a three-member bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao on Thursday issued a total of six directives on sex work and sex workers. The Supreme Court has said that the rights of sex workers can be protected through this directive. The other two judges of the bench were Justice BR Gowai and Justice AS Bopanna.

“Sex workers had equal rights under the law. If a sex worker is an adult and engages in sex work with his or her consent, the police cannot intervene without a reason. No criminal action can be taken against sex workers,” said the three-member bench judge.

Referring to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the apex court further said that all citizens of the country have the right to lead a “dignified life”. And that is why sex workers should not be harassed or arrested during search operations in brothels. However, the Supreme Court of the neighboring country also reminded that “it is illegal to run a brothel even though the sex profession is legal”.

Meanwhile, the Indian court has kept a special eye on those sex workers who are the mother of the child. The three-judge bench ruled that “the child should be taken from his mother by showing the logic that she was only involved in sex work”.  

The court said the children could not be removed from the mother without any special reason.

At the same time, if any sex worker goes to the police station with a complaint of harassment or sexual abuse, it has been instructed to listen to it seriously and take appropriate action. In particular, if a sex worker complains of physical abuse or any other crime, a quick physical examination should be arranged. The Indian Supreme Court has also ordered that the identities of sex workers must be kept secret.

The court also sought the opinion of the central government of India on the whole issue. The next hearing of the case will be held on July 26. The apex court will hear the views of the central government on that day.

According to media reports, the new guidelines of the country’s apex court will benefit about 9 lakh sex workers in India. Although prostitution is not illegal in India, running a brothel or inciting prostitution is considered a crime.

Due to this law, many sex workers have to suffer harassment while providing services. As a result, the media thinks that they will get some relief from the new guideline of the apex court.