Lifestyle & Belief

Indian Supreme Court mulls rules to protect prostitutes

After laying out plans for their rehabilitation, India's Supreme Court is considering rules that would allow sex workers who wish to remain in the trade to live with dignity.

Holding that the right to live with dignity was a constitutional right, the bench constituted a panel comprising senior advocates and NGOs to look into the problems faced by sex workers and give suggestions to protect their fundamental rights, India Today reported.

Under current conditions, Indian sex workers face frequent police harassment and abuse, the court noted.

To ensure effective implementation of rehabilitation and other schemes, the court directed the central and state governments to undertake surveys to ascertain how many sex workers wanted rehabilitation, India Today said. It is estimated that there are over 3 million female commercial sex workers in India.

Though prostitution is not illegal in India, the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 makes certain acts relating to prostitution an offence, the magazine said. The absence of proper provisions for regulating the profession also contributes to harassment of sex workers by the police.

The court had decided to enforce the right of sex workers after it came across a case of a brutal murder of a prostitute in Kolkata in September 1999, India Today said.