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India recognizes sex work as a 'profession'

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The country’s Supreme Court has ordered police forces to treat sex workers with dignity and not to abuse them, either verbally or physically.

The Supreme Court of India recognized sex work as a ‘profession’ and stressed that the police should not interfere or take criminal action against the workers who practice it, according to local media.

Indian sex workers have “ the right to live with dignity and equal protection of the law,” a three-judge panel announced, adding that “criminal law should be applied equally in all cases, based on age and consent.”

“It goes without saying that, regardless of profession, every person in this country has the right to a dignified life, under article 21 of the Constitution,” observed the court, which drew several guidelines to protect the rights of sex workers and their children, especially focused on the police.

Although prostitution in the country is not illegal, sex workers often suffer abuse, marginalization, violence and police harassment.

Thus, the Supreme Court has sought to eliminate barriers that they are denied their rights and the protection of the law. In particular, he ordered the police forces to treat them with dignity and not abuse them, either verbally or physically. “When it is clear that the sex worker is an adult and is participating with consent , the police must refrain from interfering or taking any [de encausamiento] criminal action” , ruled the court.

In addition, it determined that sex workers should not be “arrested, sanctioned, harassed or victimized” during raids on brothels, “because that voluntary sex work is not illegal and it is only illegal to run the brothel

He also stressed that mothers who work in the sex trade should not be deprived of the custody of their children, nor should it be assumed that children who found living in a brothel are trafficked, as the protection of human decency and dignity “extends to sex workers and their children”.

On the other hand, he warned the media to take “the utmost care of and do not reveal the identity” of these people, nor spread photographs that may give clues in this regard.

The court ordered the Union of India to submit its response to the recommendations made by the panel within a period of six weeks, starting Thursday.

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