Poverty, not pleasure, forces women into prostitution: Court

The Supreme Court Monday said it was because of ‘abject poverty’ and not for ‘pleasure’ that a woman is compelled to indulge in prostitution. It also ordered formulation of rehabilitation schemes for sex workers.

‘If such a woman is granted opportunity to avail some technical and vocational training, she would be able to earn her livelihood by such vocational training and skill instead by selling her body,’ said the apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra.

While dismissing an appeal by Budhadev Karmaskar against his life sentence for killing a sex worker, the court said: ‘Sex workers are also human beings and no one has a right to assault or murder them.’

Karmaskar ‘committed the murder in a brutal manner of a helpless woman and deserves no sympathy from this court’, the bench said.

The ‘society must have sympathy towards the sex workers and must not look down upon them. They are also entitled to life of dignity in view of the Article 21 of the constitution and their problems also need to be addressed,’ the judges said.

The court order referred to noted writers, including Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Russian novelist Dostoevsky’s novel ‘Crime and Punishment’, Urdu poet Sahir Ludhianvi and also referred to Amrapali, the legendary courtesan who was a contemporary of Lord Buddha.

In the novels of these writers, the court said, sex workers were shown to be of very high character who sacrificed their body to earn some bread for their improvised families.

The court directed the central and state governments to prepare schemes for giving technical and vocational training to sex workers and sexually abused women.

The court said the schemes should also include the marketing of the products that would be produced by the rehabilitated sex workers. In the absence of such an arrangement, things would get back to the square one as they would not be able to feed themselves.

The schemes, the court said, should mention in detail who would give technical and vocational training and in what manner they would be rehabilitated and settled by offering them employment.

The court issued notice to the central and state governments asking them to file response stating the steps taken by them on its directions.

The case would come up for hearing May 4.

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