Recognition of Sex Work as a Profession- UPSC Current Affairs

Recognized of Sex Work as a Profession- UPSC Current Affairs

Upgrade your UPSC CSE preparation with our Daily dose of Current Affairs. Today’s edition will discuss Recognition of Sex Work as a Profession. Check the topic’s relevance from the UPSC CSE point of view.

Why in the News?

Recently, the Supreme Court recognized sex work as a profession and said that sex workers are entitled to dignity and equal protection under the law.

  • The court invoked its special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

Key Highlights of the Supreme Court Guidelines:

  • Criminal Action: The Supreme Court has directed that police should neither interfere nor take criminal action against adult and consenting sex workers.
    • The Bench ordered that sex workers should not be “arrested or penalised or harassed or victimised” whenever there is a raid on any brothel, “since voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful.
  • Right to a Dignified Life: The court observed that every individual in this country has a right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Right of Sex Worker Child: The court held that a child of a sex worker should not be separated from the mother merely on the ground that she is in the sex trade.
    • ​​Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children.
    • Further, if a minor is found living in a brothel or with sex workers, it should not be presumed that the child was trafficked.
  • Medical-legal care: The court ordered the police to not discriminate against sex workers who lodge a criminal complaint, especially if the offence committed against them is of a sexual nature.
  • Role of Media: Media should take “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.

Also, read about the Assam NRC, a crucial topic from the UPSC exam preparation point of view.

Prostitution in India

  • Currently, as per the Indian Penal Code (IPC), prostitution is not in a broad sense illegal, but several activities under prostitution are punishable by law.
  • As per the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986, sex workers can practice their profession but activities, including pimping and running a brothel are considered a punishable offence.
  • The law also states any person who makes an earning from prostitution is punished. Additionally, it is illegal to procure, induce, or abduct a person for prostitution.
  • The law further mentions that the practice cannot take place within a 200-metre radius of any public place. 
  • To participate in prostitution lawfully, sex-worker must choose an isolated location.
  • This clearly puts the legality of profession of prostitution in ambiguity.

Countries that have legalized prostitution

  • Countries such as Germany, Netherlands, France, and Greece have legalised the profession.
  • In Germany, the profession was legalised in 1927 and there are proper state-run brothels. The workers are provided with health insurance, have to pay taxes and they even receive social benefits like pension.
  • In New Zealand, the profession has been legal since 2003 and the country also has licensed brothels operating under public health and employment laws.
  • In Brazil, sex work is legal, though pimping is punishable by law. Similarly, It is legal to work in the sex industry in Colombia, though pimping isn’t.

Challenges faced by sex workers

  • Sex workers in India face multiple traumas — sexual violence, emotional abuse, and physical assaults from clients.
  • Diseases like cervical cancer, HIV and STD are increasing as no steps have been taken for their betterment.
  • They also face debilitating stigma and discrimination that erodes their ability to protect their health and well-being.

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Significance of Supreme Court Judgement

With the order, the Supreme Court hopes to reduce the stigma that is attached the profession of prostitution.

  • In many cases, sex workers allege that it is the police that victimizes them by arresting them or harassing them. However, the court has directed that this be stopped.
  • The court has also instructed that any sex worker who is a victim of sexual assault will be given all of the same services as a survivor of sexual assault, including immediate medical attention.
  • The court’s direction is a step in the right direction in the battle for equality.

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