Suspecting that government schemes for rehabilitation of sex workers did not exist on the ground, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a panel appointed by it to investigate it.
“We request the panel to investigate whether these schemes exist largely on paper only, or whether they have been actually implemented,” a bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra, which had earlier set up a panel headed by senior advocate Pradip Ghosh for sex workers’ rehabilitation, said.
The order came after the bench perused a report of the panel’s meeting on August 17, in which a representative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development “explained” the significance of Ujwala and Step schemes.
Taking exception to the conditions placed on rescued sex workers under a central scheme for them to become eligible to get technical training, the SC on Wednesday advocated doing away with the conditions to extend the benefit of welfare schemes to maximum number of sex workers.
The court asked why Ujwala scheme was extended only to rescued trafficked women and not to those who voluntarily want to leave sex trade.
“In our opinion, a proper effective scheme should be prepared also for such women who voluntarily give up the profession,” the bench said expressing dissatisfaction over failure of the Centre and most of the states to come up with suitable schemes for sex workers despite its orders.
Commenting on condition in the central government scheme that the rescued sex workers must stay in a corrective home in order to get technical training, the bench said, “…no such condition should be imposed as many sex workers are reluctant to stay in these corrective homes which they consider as virtual prison.”
Maintaining that government cannot compel rescued sex workers to stay in corrective homes for vocational training, it said effective schemes should be prepared by the Centre and states even for those voluntarily giving up the profession.
The court reiterated its appeal to the public, particularly the youth, to contact the members of the panel at the email address email@example.com and give the “valuable suggestions and inputs”.
It regretted that there was no scheme for rehabilitation of sex workers in Delhi.