A Supreme Court-appointed panel has moved closer towards recommending measures to ensure better work conditions, including protection under labour laws, for sex workers who wish to continue in their trade as well as steps needed to rehabilitate those who wish to leave prostitution.
The panel on Saturday held a seven-hours long consultation with stakeholders, including sex workers, where they heard their views before finalizing its report.
Sources said the issue of whether prostitution should be legalized did not figure in the consultation. “Prostitution is not illegal. Soliciting prostitution in public places, and procuring or inducing anyone for sex are illegal,” said a source.
Recently, NCW chairperson Lalita Kumaramangalam had raked up a controversy when she gave a statement to a newspaper that prostitution should be legalised.
Set up in 2011, the SC-appointed panel, headed by senior advocate Pradip Ghosh, has been mandated to recommend possible amendments in Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956. It has to submit its report before March 2015.
Last year, a women and child development ministry panel set up to review the proposed amendments to the archaic ITPA had recommended enhancing both penal punishment and fines for not only those running brothels but also those visiting such places.
However, to check further victimization of trafficked woman, the panel has recommended that the court “may direct” that such sex workers who are caught in a brothel are not jailed but instead sent to rehabilitation centres.
The ministry is, however, yet to finalise the amendments to the ITPA.