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India's Supreme Court recognises sex work as a ‘profession’

"Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children," the Supreme court noted.

In a significant order recognizing sex work as a "Profession" whose practitioners are entitled to dignity and equal protection under law, 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 penalized or harassed or victimized" whenever there is a raid on any brothel, "Since voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful". A child of a sex worker should not be separated from the mother merely on the ground that she is in the sex trade, the court held.
"Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children," the court noted. 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.

The court said 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".

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