Immoral Traffic Act comes under critical scrutiny

Activists say its provisions are used disproportionately against sex workers

Published - November 09, 2014 03:10 am IST - NEW DELHI

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.

There 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.

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