India’s Supreme Court has ruled sex workers, like people in any other profession, deserve equal protection and to live with dignity under the law.
Prior to the ruling, sex workers were prone to police violence, exploitation and lacked basic health and labor protection.
The May 19 ruling noted “the attitude of the police to sex workers is often brutal and violent. It is as if they are a class whose rights are not recognized.”
It states law enforcement authorities should not abuse sexual workers and coerce them into any sexual activity.
Seeking health and safety protection, such as buying condoms, should no longer be seen as suspicious activity and grounds for arrest.
Additionally, authorities can no longer separate the child of a sex worker from their mother simply because of her occupation.
Aside from equal protection under the law, judges have ordered local and state governments to provide sex workers who suffer from sexual assault with proper medical assistance.
Judges have also requested the Press Council of India to issue guidelines for media companies to prevent revealing sex workers’ identities.
The Indian Government must set a plan to take proper action to support sex workers by July, according to the Washington Post.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, sex worker’s struggles became more visible as many were unable to make a living and were left out from governmental relief programs.