Prostitution Not a Criminal Offence, Women Have Right to Choose Vocation: Bombay HC
Prostitution is not a criminal offence under law. This was observed by the Bombay High Court on 24th September while setting free three sex workers who were detained from a women's hostel in Uttar Pradesh.
The single bench of Justice Prithviraj K. Chavan observed that prostitution has not been made an offence under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and that an adult woman has the right to choose her vocation.
"There is no provision under the law which m
akes prostitution per se a criminal offence or punishes a person because he/she indulges in prostitution. What is punishable under the Act is sexual exploitation or abuse of a person for commercial purpose and to earn the bread," the court stated.
The three women, aged 20, 22 and 23 respectively, were caught in a trap laid by the social service branch of Mumbai Police on 19th September, 2019 from Chincholi Bunder area in Malad.
Earlier, a metropolitan magistrate detained them in a women's hostel in Uttar Pradesh, as the probation report revealed that they were from a particular community from Kanpur that had a long tradition of prostitution in the community.
The magistrate also refused to hand over custody of the three sex workers to their mothers stating that it was not in their interest to stay with their parents.
The Mumbai High Court on 24th September, struck down the previous orders and said that the women have a right to reside at the place of their choice, and move freely throughout the territory of India, as they were adults. The court further cited that the magistrate should have taken their consent before ordering their detention.
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