No job is too small and no job is too menial. The profession of one person defines its strata in society. A person’s profession designates their reputation and dignity in one’s surroundings. If we consider a country like India then a person’s profession has been of great importance since archaic times. Earlier men indulged in the occupation but as the development and industrial revolution took place women also got indulged in the occupation process. They have contributed a lot to our country and helped our country to achieve greater pinnacle.


Since our country is still developing, many women, men, and transgender indulge in professions that are impermissible in our social group. One of the impermissible professions includes prostitution i.e., sex workers. A sex worker is a person who is involved in sexual activity in exchange for money. This profession is mostly concerned with women. Poverty and illiteracy among women are the reason why women are mostly in this profession.


In India, women are associated with the deities of Goddesses and are given great respect by their family members. But sometimes things do not go normally and unfortunately, these women have to indulge in an occupation that is considered unethical in our social environment. They see it as the most convenient way to earn money and way to fulfill their basic necessities. Women who are underprivileged and backward go into this profession. Prostitution should not be considered an immoral profession if there is the consent of the sex worker. This profession also requires reverence and dignity. People should respect their choice. It is woeful that in India if a woman is a rape victim or sex worker it’s always the woman who is boycotted and secluded from society. In both situations, no one wants to see the plight and helplessness of women.


Age and consent play a game changer in converting sex workers into rape victims. The nuances between these two should be acknowledged by society. Earlier in 2020, National Human Rights Commission declared sex workers as “informal workers”. Recently, the Supreme court also recognized sex work as a “profession” and held that its practitioners should also get equal protection and dignity under the law. It highlighted that if the practitioner is an adult and indulging in sex with consent that police authorities should refrain from taking any criminal action. In our constitution article 21 also discusses the right to life and personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of this except according to the procedure established by law. But on the other side of the coin, article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and other similar forced labor and imposes penalties if someone violates it. Forced labor includes women who are sexually exploited for commercial purposes. The Indian Penal code also has provisions regarding prostitution but is mainly concerned with kidnapping and child prostitution. Under sections 372 and 373 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, it is illegal to buy, sell or import minors for the purpose of prostitution. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956 also inflicts punishment on keeping a brothel, living on the earnings of prostitution, and prostitution in the vicinity of a public place. In the case of Budhadev Karmaskar v. West Bengal, SC held that sex workers are also human beings and should be treated humanely and with dignity according to article 21 of the Indian constitution.


These laws and regulations help us to narrow down the stigma that is hovering around this profession. Women’s growing participation is due to a lack of economic opportunities. The children that are born out of commercial sex work also require social security. They also need equal respect and education. They should not be discriminated against for the reason that their mother is a sex worker. Sex workers and children should be given basic medical facilities. An opportunity to change their careers should be provided. Time after time it is found that sex workers have been treated differentially and faced difficulties in a tenement house. It is disheartening that they are harassed by their own family members. Even government officials have been known to harass them rather than protect them.

It’s the sine qua non to drop off the conundrums encircling this occupation and recognize sex work as a job and attributes morals to it. Men, women, and transgender all require life with dignity and free from exploitation. They are also members of society and the human race, so why should they be treated differently?  It’s time to recognize sex work from a viewpoint of labor. The challenge regarding the validity of the sex profession is the moral hazard. The youth of India might engage in this profession for immediate gratification and monetary benefits. In addition to this, it will carry various incurable diseases causing additional burdens on our health sector and government.


All these issues and suggestions should be taken into consideration to remove the stain that is associated with sex work, especially among women sex workers. The misery concerning women sex workers should be narrowed down. Although it’s the choice of women it should not be encouraged.

“A sex worker is worth a billion times more respect than a psychic or a rape suspect in society.”

Author’s Name: Harshita (Army Institute of Law, Mohali)

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