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The Supreme Court today opined that rehabilitation of sex workers should be gender-neutral so as to include male sex workers and transgenders.

“What about male sex workers and transgenders? Rehabilitation should also include male sex workers and transgenders. Transgenders are totally marginalised nobody looks after them,” the apex court said.

A bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, while making the oral observations, directed the states to file their responses on the steps taken for rehabilitation of sex workers.

It also directed the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) to ensure that free condoms are supplied to areas inhabited by sex workers.

The bench asked the Chief Secretary of NCT government and Secretary of the Social Welfare Department to be present at the next hearing to assist the court on the issue as it wanted Delhi to take the lead in launching the rehabilation project which could be a role model for other states.

The apex court said states could also consider the “Prabhat” rehabilitation project launched by the Goa government under which educational needs of sex workers are taken care of.

The bench passed the order while examining the sixth and seventh report submitted by a committee appointed by the apex court last year for evolving rehabilitation measures for sex workers.

The apex court had at the last hearing clarified that it should not be seen as giving its seal of approval to prostitution. A special bench of Justices modified its earlier order.

Modifying its earlier order, the bench clarified that it would only examine the “conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity in accordance with provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.”

It added it was keen that sex workers should be given opportunity to avail rehabilitation measures of the government and other agencies for them.

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