If Unable to Curb Prostitution, Legalize it: SC to Centre

The Supreme Court has asked the central government if it could make prostitution legal if it isn’t possible to contain it.

“When you say it is the world’s oldest profession and when you are not able to curb it by laws, why don’t you legalize it? You can then monitor the trade, rehabilitate and provide medical aid to those involved,” Justices Dalveer Bhandari and AK Patnaik told Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam.

Pointing out that no country of the world curbs it by punitive action, the apex court said that by legalizing sex trades, government can more easily avoid trafficking of women.

Subramaniam said that he would look into the suggestion.

“They (sex workers) have been operating in one way or the other and nowhere in the world have they been able to curb it by legislation. In some cases, they (the trade) is carried out in a sophisticated manner. So, why don’t you legalize it?” the judges asked.

The court made the remarks while hearing a PIL filed by NGOs Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Childline which, complaining large-scale child trafficking in the country, sought directives to it.

Besides, the apex court expressed surprise as to why a bulk of country’s population, 37%, continues to reel below poverty line when there’s much talk of growing GDP rate in the country.

The bench observed that child trafficking and sex trade were flourishing because of poverty which needs to be handled.

“We are talking about growing GDP. I do not know what is the development we are all talking about when the number of BPL families is at 37% which has increased from 30%.

“Growth of GDP does not mean some four or five families have developed. If this is the state of development, we can’t help it,” the bench said while posting the matter for further hearing to January 5.

The contention of the petitioner is that a number of minor children, particularly girls and those of tender age, are being pushed into sex trade.

Childline counsel Nandita Rao alleged several minor girls are being sexually exploited by circus owners and there has to be adequate legal framework to prevent such exploitation.

Responding to her suggestion, the Solicitor General told the bench that government was contemplating a legislation to declare circus as a “hazardous industry” to prevent abuse of child labourers.

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