The Centre has taken exception to the Supreme Court asking an expert panel to make suitable suggestions for creating a conducive condition for sex workers, so they could continue in the flesh trade with dignity. This move would imply legalising prostitution, it said.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre said, “(It)… implies recognising sex work as a legal occupation. This implies legalisation of prostitution, which goes against the law of the land,” the affidavit noted. Creating a conducive environment for sex workers would perpetuate prostitution and trafficking, it added.
In July 2011, a bench headed by Justice Markandey Katju (since retired) constituted a panel of senior advocates and sought reports on issues related to prevention of trafficking, rehabilitation of prostitutes who wished to leave the flesh trade, and creation of conducive conditions for those who did not want to leave it. The court observed that prostitutes also have the right to live and work with dignity.
The Centre also opposed the expert panel’s recommendation to provide day and night shelters, besides crèche facilities, to the children of prostitutes. The panel had suggested that such shelters be set up in red light areas.
The government expressed its inability to relax the rigorous procedure followed for verifying residential addresses to issue ration cards to sex workers. Such an action would have economic and security implications because 5% of the 30 lakh prostitutes in India are from Bangladesh and Nepal, it said.