Human Rights of Sex Workers in India: The Way Forward

Gupta, Shreyas, Human Rights of Sex Workers in India: The Way Forward (July 19, 2013). Available at SSRN: or


Although India has ratified several international covenants on women rights and has a constitution that expressly condemns discrimination and exploitation based on sex and gender, it has not been successful in effectively guarding and promoting the human rights of women, especially sex workers in India. This sad state of affairs is manifested by the intensity and extent of violence that exists in the sex industry, discrimination at the hands of the police and judiciary, exploitation during employment, concerns relating to health, safety and security of the sex workers and their children, presence of minors in the sex industry, issues of lack of consent and consultation, extortion and pimping, abjuration of self-determination and psychological abuse. The paper highlights the plight of sex workers in India and reflects on the challenges that are encountered by them. The existing policy framework for protection of sex workers’ rights through techniques of rescue and rehabilitation is ineffective in safeguarding their interests since it is governed by the principle that sex work is immoral. Therefore, the paper proposes an alternative hypothesis which revolves around the idea of redefining prostitution as sex work and further on, legalising and decriminalising sex work in order to protect the human rights and health of sex workers in India.

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