The Delhi Police has decided to not target individual sex workers and their clients from now on and instead go after the operators of prostitution rings and trafficking networks, highly-placed sources told HT.
The move is a complete turnaround from previous attempts to curb prostitution through flash raids and arrests at several GB Road brothels by elite departments like the Delhi crime branch. Several senior Delhi Police officials confirmed that they were issued verbal orders to effect the change, aimed to restrict lower police functionaries from harassing sex workers and their clients.
This doesn’t mean that we will turn a blind eye towards prostitution and the exploitation of sex workers,” explained a senior police official, adding that the police would continue to rescue women forced into the flesh trade if the latter wished to start afresh.
The home and the women and child development ministries have been advocating shifting focus to pimps and traffickers instead of the sex workers, a government official said.
Sex workers will consequently feel less persecuted by the police that many say are notorious for extorting money under the garb of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act. They could then provide valuable inputs that would help uncover major flesh-trade networks, an officer said.
“The only difference between our previous approach and the current one is that we now want to concentrate on the bigger picture without leaving scope for lower police functionaries to extort sex workers and their customers in the garb of law enforcement,” another officer added.