Mar 11, 2022

5 things you didn’t know about the law on Sex Workers

The Supreme Court has ordered State governments to provide dry rations to sex workers who are identified by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and government authorities. States will have to provide rations to these sex workers even if the sex workers do not show any proof of identity.

  1. Which law deals with sex work in India?

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act was enacted in 1956. It was enacted following the international Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which India signed on the 9th of May, 1950.

  1. What is prostitution?

Prostitution refers to the sexual exploitation or abuse of people for a commercial purpose, and the people who are exploited in such a manner are termed as prostitutes.

  1. Living on the earnings of prostitution

If you are above 18 years of age, and you knowingly live on earnings coming from the prostitution of another person, you can be punished under the law. It is assumed that you are living on the earnings of prostitution if it is proved that:

  1. a) You are living with a prostitute, or routinely in the company of a prostitute; or
  2. b) You have controlled or influenced the movements of a prostitute in a way that indicates that you are aiding or compelling prostitution; or
  3. c) You are acting as a tout or pimp on behalf of a prostitute.

The punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution is imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine of up to ₹ 1000. If the earnings relate to the prostitution of a child (below 16 years) or a minor (below 18 years), you can be punished with imprisonment for 7 to 10 years.

  1. What is a brothel?

A brothel can mean any house, room or place which is used for purposes of sexual exploitation or abuse. This sexual exploitation can be for the gain of another person or for the mutual gain of two or more prostitutes.

If you keep or manage a brothel, or assist in doing so, you can be punished with imprisonment for 1 to 3 years, and a fine of up to ₹ 2000. If you repeat the offence, you can be punished with imprisonment for 2 to 5 years, and a fine of up to ₹ 2000.

  1. Closing a brothel

Prostitution is not allowed to be carried out in or near public places (places meant to be used or accessed by the public). If a magistrate receives information that any place within 200 metres of a public place is being used as a brothel or for prostitution, the magistrate can issue a notice to the person in charge of the place. The person will have to respond to the notice within 7 days and justify that the place is not being used for any improper activity. After hearing the person, if the magistrate still thinks that the place is being used as a brothel, then the magistrate can pass an order to evict the occupier within 7 days.

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