If the proposed amendments to the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956 are passed, prostitutes would no longer be treated as criminals.
However their profession would still continue to be treated as an illegal one.
Fifty years after India enacted a legal framework to check prostitution, Government has finally decided to go for a radical change in the law.
The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956 is being amended and sex workers will now be treated as victims and not as offenders. They cannot even be asked to vacate the property they reside in.
“It’s not legalising, it’s decriminalising of the prostitutes. Most of them are in it not by choice,” says Chairman, Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari.
The oldest profession in the world still continues to be illegal in India, depriving prostitutes of their legal rights, and thus making them vulnerable to exploitation.
Given the socio-cultural impediments, legalizing prostitution might be suicidal for the administration at this juncture.
But with this creative middle ground adopted by the Goverment through the proposed amendment, the prostitutes, particularly those who have been pushed into this profession against their will, might get some legal rights.
Women who have entered the profession voluntarily, or those who wish to stay, might have to wait a little longer.
One step at a time, I guess.
India Together article on the issue