New Delhi: Supreme Court suggested legalising prostitution as a solution to the rampant sex trade that has flourished despite a raft of laws, a report said on Thursday.
“When you say it is the world’s oldest profession and when you are not able to curb it by laws, why don’t you legalise it?” the PTI quoted the court as telling the country’s solicitor general, without citing a particular judge.
Prostitution is illegal in India but police often turn a blind eye to the trade.
There are around 1.2 million sex workers in the country, according to the National AIDS Control Organisation, many of whom have been pressing for full legalisation for years.
Last year sex workers were granted rights to collect life insurance and they have also been fighting for protection under India’s labour laws.
In July, the Delhi High Court decriminalised gay sex, a move rights activists said would help India combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and encourage those affected by it to come forward and seek treatment and information.
The government estimates that between two million and 3.1 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
The spread of the illness has been in part due to unsafe sexual practices among India’s long-distance truckers who contract the virus after sex with prostitutes.
The court, presided over by a bench of two judges, said no legislation anywhere in the world had successfully managed to stop the sex trade, and legalising it would allow authorities to “monitor the trade, rehabilitate and provide medical aid to those involved”.
PTI said solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam would consider the court’s proposal.