Title: Constitutionality of the law on sex work in India

Authors: Saloni Jain

Addresses: National Law University Delhi, Sector 14 Dwarka, New Delhi, 110078, India

Abstract: The Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act is the main statute pertaining to sex work in India. It does not criminalise sex work as such (an individual worker is permitted to sell sex for merely her benefit in a place that is not near any public place in a discrete mode). However, it criminalises activities surrounding sex work, de facto criminalising sex work altogether. The Act punishes the sex worker (majority being women) but not the client (majority being men) unless the client is engaged in the activity in a public place. In this article, I contend that the ITPA violates the fundamental right to equality due to orthodox notions of patriarchal morality, that women are perceived to have certain gender specific roles, and that the judiciary reinforces these stereotypes reflecting an inherent bias towards sex work, indirectly discriminating against women.

Keywords: sex work; indirect discrimination; Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act; prostitution; feminism; gender; equality rights; Indian constitution; India; criminalisation; patriarchal morality; gender specific roles; stereotypes; inherent bias.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2015.074923

International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, 2015 Vol.3 No.4, pp.319 - 325

Received: 25 Aug 2015
Accepted: 27 Aug 2015

Published online: 24 Feb 2016 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article