Indian sex workers are “entitled to equal protection of the law,” a three-judge Supreme Court panel led by Justice L Nageswara Rao announced on Thursday, adding that “criminal law must apply equally in all cases on the basis of age and consent.”
So long as sex workers are consenting adults, the judges ruled, police may not interfere or take criminal action against them. Voluntary sex work is not illegal, and while running a brothel remains a crime, those plying their trade within one are not to be arrested or otherwise victimized during raids on such facilities.
“Notwithstanding the profession, every individual in this country has the right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the judges wrote. Mothers who work in the sex trade should not be deprived of custody of their children, nor should children found living in a brothel or with a sex worker be assumed to be trafficked.