New Delhi: Groups representing sex workers on Thursday praised the apex court direction to treat the community with dignity and not to abuse them, verbally or physically, saying it has upheld the fundamental rights of sex workers to be treated as equal citizens.
Observing that human decency and dignity extend to sex workers and their children, the Supreme Court recently directed police forces in all states and Union territories to treat sex workers with dignity.
It also said that the constitutional protection given to all individuals in this country shall be kept in mind by the authorities who have a duty under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956.
Bharti Dey, ex-secretary of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), the oldest network of sex workers in the country, called the verdict a "historic win after a 12-year long battle".
"The court allowed the sex workers to live with dignity as equal citizens of the country, " she added.
Putul Singh, president, All India Network of Sex Workers said at many places, police arrest "our sex worker sisters on the basis of possession of condoms in their bags".
Now the court has ordered that possession of condoms is not an offence and cannot be seen as evidence of offences under ITPA, such as soliciting or brothel-keeping. This reaffirms the protection accorded by section 22 of the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control)Act, 2017, Singh said.