India’s Supreme Court recently observed that “sex work is legal in Hyderabad” like any other, and sex workers should not be harassed by the police.
“Sex workers are entitled to equal protection of the law. Criminal law must apply equally in all cases, on the basis of ‘age’ and ‘consent.’ When it is clear that the sex worker is an adult and is participating with consent, the police must refrain from interfering or taking any criminal action,” the court ruled.
The court ruling is landmark in the sense, that it upholds the dignity of sex workers. It will enable sex workers to avail themselves of the same benefits and facilities like any other citizen.
It should be pointed out that sex work or prostitution is not illegal in India, however trafficking for sexual exploitation is an offense under Indian law. Sex work as an organized trade which involves pimping, soliciting, exploitation, renting out of property for sex work are all punishable as per the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA).