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Prostitution Not an Offence; Adult Woman Has Right to Choose Her Vocation

On 24th September, 2020, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court set free three sex workers from the corrective institution. Prostitution has not been made an offence under Immoral Traffic (Prevention Act, 1956. It is also stated that a woman has the right to choose her own vocation.

The single bench of Justice Prithviraj k. Chavan was hearing a plea of 3 sex workers challenging the order passed on 19th October 2019. This order was passed by a magistrate in mazgaon challenging section 17 (2) of the said act. The case revolved around how a trap was laid to catch women traffickers. The Victim was then taken into custody for a few days in the “Yatri Guest House.” The magistrate, inter alia, called for a report from the Probation officer for taking their charge. Further, the magistrate declined custody of the victims to their mothers as the victims were found involved in sex work of the age group of 20- 22 years. It was further revealed that the victims belonged to the “bediya” community. There is a belief in this community that when a girl reaches the stage of puberty, is sent for prostitution.

Taking into consideration all the circumstances and facts after going through Sections 17(1), (2), (3), (4) and (6) of the Act, the victims (A), (B) and (C) were detained for a period of one year from 19th October, 2019.

Further it was made clear that it was not the case of the police that setting of the victims free would cause danger to the society.

Lastly, the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 21st September, 2020, directed centre and state governments to provide food and financial aid to sex workers in a plea highlighting the distress faced due to the ongoing pandemic.

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