NCW set to propose legalisation of sex trade, Centre expresses displeasure


New Delhi: The National Commission for Women (NCW) is set to propose legalisation of sex trade to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court but according to sources the Women & Child Development ministry isn’t in favour the idea.

Ever since the news of the National Commission for Women’s deciding to propose legalizing sex trade before a Supreme Court constituted panel, a debate has been raging. In the dark dingy lanes of Delhi’s infamous red light area, GB road, it’s always been business as usual.

It’s unclear how many of these women opt into the flesh trade… and how many are forced into it by others – But an overwhelming majority seemed to back the idea of legalising prostitution.

“If it’s legalised then we won’t get harrased by police..we would have the rights to file a complaint against a customer ,” said a sex worker but there’s also a huge segment against this, “traffickers were get emboldened – rehabilitate us, don’t legalise it,” said another sex worker.

Some members of the SC appointed panel too have their reservations. Making brothels legal will make them vulnerable, we are against any move to legalise prostitution, said president of Shakti Vahini Ravi Kant. .

While the NCW chief who made headlines with her statements supporting legalisation, has suddently gone mum on the issue, “Won’t comment on sex workers issue,” said Laitha.

Women’s groups too are deeply divided, Shabnam Khan said, “It’s a good move provided they get all facilities like helath care etc.”

While women & child ministry hasn’t commented on the issue yet – A delegation of members of women’s groups in India met NCW chairperson and submitted a memorandum urging it to go in for a national-level consultation with all sections on the matter.


Red Light Ko Green Signal

Published in the Navbharat Times63173

Consensus eludes panel on prostitution


NEW DELHI: Sharp differences on the issue of legalizing sex work continued to nettle experts in the Supreme Court appointed panel established to recommend changes in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA). The experts on Saturday held lengthy discussions on issues of rehabilitation of workers, loopholes in the act and its impact on the lives of sex workers. The panel is expected to put forward recommendations on the act soon.

09_11_2014_016_012However the war of words has already spilled out on the street after the National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam advocated legalising sex work to regulate trade and ensure better living conditions for women engaged in commercial sex work. Legalizing the trade, she said, would bring down trafficking in women and lower the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. While sex workers’ unions have expressed their support for this view citing it as a way forward in decriminalizing the trade, women rights activists have opposed it vehemently. They contend that the move will only push up trade and encourage incidence of trafficking.

Sex workers unions—estimated to be 3 million strong—say that this is the only way forward for the community that has long been marginalized. This was also the only way to break the unholy nexus between police-trafficker-pimp in exploiting the poor.

Supreme Court lawyer and Shakti Vahini president Ravi Kant had opposed the move describing trafficking and sexual slavery as the worst form of human rights violation. “No women joins this inhuman trade out of choice. More then 95% of the women have been trafficked and forced into the sex trade,” he said.

Women’s rights organizations including All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) said there was need for more consultations. “Special steps must be taken to ensure that their basic human rights are safeguarded and better livelihood options for women should be provided as a means of preventing their entry into prostitution,” Sudha Sundararaman from AIDWA said.


Immoral Traffic Act comes under critical scrutiny

Activists say its provisions are used disproportionately against sex workers

Various provisions of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, which lays down the legal framework for sex work in India, were discussed with the stakeholders at a consultation of a Supreme Court-appointed panel here on Saturday.

Sex workers and activists have been demanding amendments to the Act, pointing out that its various provisions are being used disproportionately against sex workers.

Saturday’s meeting included representatives from the National Commission for Women (NCW), the National Aids Control Organisation, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, sex workers collectives and non-governmental organisations.

The recommendations put forth at this consultation will now be presented before the Supreme Court.

Hindu ITPAThere is also a demand from several sex workers collectives to legalise the trade, and allow them to work with “dignity”. Organisations such as the All India Network of Sex Workers have maintained that by legalising the trade not only will trafficking of women come down, but will also help in availing benefits of various health and welfare schemes.

Among the provisions that the activist and sex workers want amended is Section 3.1 that forbids owners giving their house on rent. The Supreme Court had constituted a panel on August 24, 2011 after a public interest litigation was filed in 2010 on rehabilitation of sex workers. The court directed the NCW to attend the panel’s meetings.

Trafficked girl, who was held hostage, escapes


A 20-year-old girl from West Bengal was allegedly trafficked to the Capital on the pretext of providing job, but was sold off to three persons and forced into prostitution around a week ago.

The incident came to light on Tuesday night, when the victim, who was confined and held hostage by the accused, managed to flee and approached the police.

According to the police, the victim, used to live with her family in Guwahati. “She told us that on January 25, one of her distant relatives took her to New Delhi on the pretext of finding a job that pays well,” said a police officer.

The relative, however, sold her off to three persons. They have been identified as Naresh (40), his wife Archana (35) and Raju (26), who live near Liberty Cinema Hall, New Rohtak Road in Central Delhi.

The trio then held the victim captive and forced her into prostitution. They would beat her up whenever she refused. Naresh and Raju even attempted to rape her on a few occasions. They used to keep a close watch to prevent her from escaping.

On Tuesday night, she managed to flee from the room and approached a nearby police control room van. She told the policemen that she was kept confined in a nearby house.

They then took her to the nearby Deshbandhu Gupta Road police station and a case was registered on the basis on her statement.

“We registered a case under provisions of rape and confinement. Subsequently, a raid was carried at the hideout and Naresh and his wife were arrested. Raju was also arrested later,” said a senior police officer.

“We are mulling to slap charges of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act against the accused. Once the girl’s statement under Section 164 CrPC is recorded, further Sections would be added into the case accordingly,” he added. The police are now looking for the girl’s distant relative who brought her to the Capital and sold her.

She was brought to Delhi by a relative on the pretext of getting her a job

We are not encouraging sex workers, Supreme Court clarifies


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today modified one of its order on welfare and rehabilitation of sex workers on the Centre’s submissions that the last year’s order gave an impression that it seeks to legalize prostitution. Allaying the Centre’s fears that it was giving its seal of approval to prostitution, a special bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra modified its earlier order, saying “the modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution.”

Modifying its earlier order, the bench clarified that it would only examine the “conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity in accordance with provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.” It added it was keen that sex workers should be given opportunity to avail rehabilitation measures of the government and other agencies for them.While adjudicating a petition for rehabilitation of former sex workers, the apex court had on July 19, 2011 framed three terms of reference.

Appointing a broad-based panel to look into the matter, the apex court by its July 2011 order had formulated three questions related to prevention of trafficking, rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave the sex work and “conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity.”On the Centre’s submission that the third term gave an impression that prostitution has been sought to be legalised, the apex court modified it to read as “conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution”.

“The above modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution,” the bench added. Justice Sudha also observed, “While we do not wish to encourage sex trade we would emphasise rehabilitation of sex workers for which we had taken the issue. “We wish to add although the sex workers have right to live with dignity. There has to be collective endeavours by courts and sex workers to give up flesh trade in case they are given alternative platform on employment.”

Review of Rape Law


The Union Cabinet today approved the proposal for introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment ) Bill, 2012 in the Parliament.

The Law Commission of India in its 172nd Report on `Review of Rape Laws` as well the National Commission for Women have recommended for stringent punishment for the offence of rape. The High Powered Committee (HPC) constituted under the Chairmanship of Union Home Secretary examined the recommendations of Law Commission, NCW and suggestions various quarters on the subject submitted its Report along with the draft Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011 and recommended to the Government for its enactment. The draft was further examined in consultation with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Ministry of Law & Justice and the draft Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was prepared.

The highlights of the Bill include substituting sections 375, 376, 376A and 376B by replacing the existing sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C and 376D of the Indian Penal Code,1860, replacing the word `rape’ wherever it occurs by the words `sexual assault`, to make the offence of sexual assault gender neutral, and also widening the scope of the offence sexual assault.

The punishment for sexual assault will be for a minimum of seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine for aggravated sexual assault, i.e., by a police officer within his jurisdiction or a public servant / manager or person talking advantage of his position of authority etc. The punishment will be rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than ten years which may extend to life imprisonment and also fine.

The age of consent has been raised from 16 years to 18 years in sexual assault. However, it is proposed that the sexual intercourse by a man with own wife being under sixteen years of age is not sexual assault. Provision for enhancement of punishment under sections 354 and 509 of IPC and insertion of sections 326A and 326B in the IPC for making acid attack a specific offence have been made.