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Prostitutes have right to live with dignity: SC

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 14, 2011
First Published: 18:13 IST(14/2/2011) | Last Updated: 02:10 IST(15/2/2011)

Holding that prostitutes have a right to live with dignity, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre and state governments to prepare rehabilitation schemes through social welfare boards to redress the grievances of such ‘physically and sexually abused’ women.


“A woman is compelled to indulge in prostitution not for pleasure but because of abject poverty. If such a woman is granted opportunity to avail technical or vocational training, she would be able to earn her livelihood by such vocational training and skill instead of by selling her body,” said a bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra.

Directing the Centre and state governments to prepare schemes for giving technical/vocational training to sex workers and sexually abused women across India, the bench asked them to respond by May 4 — the next date of hearing.

The court issued the directions while dismissing an appeal of Budhadev Karmaskar, convicted of killing a prostitute in Kolkatta in September 1999.  Upholding the Calcutta high court verdict convicting him to life sentence, the SC said, “Sex workers are also human beings, and no one has a right to assault or murder them.”

Asking the Centre and states to indicate the steps initiated till by them till the next date, the bench also specified what the scheme should consist of.

The schemes, the apex court said, should mention in detail as to who would impart the technical/vocational training. It should also give details on the manner in which they can be rehabilitated and settled by offering employment.

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