Sex workers demand legalization of prostitution

Sex workers demand legalization of prostitution

New Delhi: Buoyed over Supreme Court’s observation on legalizing prostitution, a number of sex workers and associations working for their uplift have demanded that the world’s oldest profession be brought under the purview of law.

Workers at the city’s prominent redlight area, Garstin Bastion (GB) Road, feel that legalizing the trade will put an end to their problems such as exploitation by criminal elements and help them live a better life.

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Welfare groups working for their uplift are also planning to submit a memorandum to the government in support of their demands.

“There are lots of problems faced by sex workers. If it is legalized, they would have proper health cards and a valid licence. This will help them in living a humble social life. We will soon meet the official and give them a memorandum to inform them about our demands," Iqbal, head of Delhi unit, Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha, an NGO working for the welfare of sex workers said.

India is among one of the nations where prostitution is banned.

In its significant remarks, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A.K. Patnaik on December nine had asked the Centre whether it can legalise prostitution if it is not practically possible to curb the world’s oldest profession with punitive measures.

“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 legalize it? You can then monitor the trade, rehabilitate and provide medical aid to those involved in the trade," the bench had told Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam.

“We are often arrested by police personnel and deprive of legal aid. Also, people consider us as criminal. Our children have difficulty in going to school. We even face bias in getting medical treatment and getting our rights," said Kanta, a brothel owner.

There are about 116 brothels in which about 5,000 women from across the country and some from neighbouring nations work as a sexworker at the G B road.

“It will be better if government gives licence to both the brothel owners and sexworkers. This will help us in getting our identity," said Renu, a sex worker.

Another worker, Soumya said: “We can never get back to the civic society. People will not be able to accept us. It will be better if government gives us licence."

The apex court has said that sex trade has been operating in one way or the other and nowhere in the world have they been able to curb it by legislation. In some cases, they are carried out in a sophisticated manner. So why don’t you legalize it?.

The apex court’s remarks came while hearing a PIL filed by an NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan and the intervention application moved by Childline complaining about largescale child trafficking in the country.