Supreme Court appoints panel for sex workers (Lead)

July 19th, 2011 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday set up a panel to suggest ways for the prevention of human trafficking for sex trade and to conduct a survey of sex workers across the country and rehabilitate them.

The apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra said the panel will be headed by senior counsel Pradeep Ghosh and Jayant Bhushan. It will also include three NGOs engaged in helping sex workers.

The court directed the central and the state governments as well as the union territories’ administrations to carry out a survey of sex workers in their jurisdiction and submit that report to the panel.

Three NGOs on the panel are Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Mahila Society, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Simiti, and Roshni Academy.

While setting up the panel, Justice Katju said that the right to live also included right to live with dignity.

The panel would make suggestions for prevention of human trafficking, for rehabilitation of sex workers who want to leave their trade, and for improving the conditions of those who want to continue with it.

During the hearing, Justice Misra asked Ghosh if the panel could tell the court the names of sex workers willing to opt out of the their trade.

Ghosh told the court that they had 13,000 sex workers on their list but many others may want to leave the trade. But he added it would not be feasible to identify each one of them by name.

The court gave two weeks to state governments to file affidavits stating the steps taken by them for the rehabilitation of sex workers, including imparting vocational training.

The panel’s appointment came in the wake of the hearing on directions issued by the apex court Feb 14 for the rescue and rehabilitation of sex worker and addressing their problems.

The court’s directions came in a case in which it rejected the plea of Budhadev Karmakar who was convicted for beating to death a sex worker in Kolkata Sep 19, 1999.

The court in its earlier hearing described as unfortunate that women were forced to submit to such compulsions (sex trade) because of poverty. “Sex workers are also human beings. They become sex workers not out of enjoyment but out of (needs of the) stomach.”

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