SC Recognises Sex Work as ‘Profession’

Recently, the Supreme Court passed an order recognizing sex work as a “profession” and said that its practitioners across the country are entitled to equal protection as well as dignity under the law of the nation.

What judgments were passed by the Supreme Court regarding sex workers?

  • Criminal Law: Under this law, the sex workers of the country are entitled to equal protection of the nation’s law and criminal law must be applied in all cases related to them on the basis of consent and age. If a sex worker is an adult and participating with consent, the police must not interfere or take any criminal action against them. The court has said that sex workers must not be penalized, arrested, victimized, or harassed whenever the police conduct a raid on any brothel, as voluntary sex work is not illegal, only the running of the brothel is unlawful.
  • Medical Care: Sex workers who are sexually assaulted must be provided every facility which includes immediate legal and medical care. The court has also instructed the cops not to discriminate against those sex workers who have lodged a complaint against sexual offences against the workers.
  • Right of Child of a Sex Worker: The children of a sex worker must not be separated from their mother merely on the basis of profession. Basic protection of dignity and human decency must be provided to the sex workers and their children. Also, if a minor is found living with a sex worker or in a brothel, the presumption should not be made that the child was trafficked. In case the sex worker claims a child to be their own, then tests can be done to determine the truth of the claim and in case it is true, the minor must not be forcibly separated.
  • Role of Media: The media must not reveal the identities of sex workers, during raids, arrests, and rescue operations, whether as accused or as victims. The media must not also telecast or publish any photos due to which their identities can be disclosed.
  • Issuance of Aadhar Cards: The Supreme Court has ordered that the sex workers must be issued Aadhar Cards.

The Supreme Court invoked its special powers under which article to pass this order?

Under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court (SC) invoked its special powers. Under Article 142, the SC is given discretionary powers and the apex court can exercise its jurisdiction and pass such order or decree whenever necessary for providing complete justice in any matter. In the year 2020, sex workers had been recognized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as informal workers.

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