SC asks Centre, States to rehabilitate prostitutes

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New Delhi, Feb 14(PTI) Observing that sex workers arealso entitled to the protection of Article 21(Liberty), theSupreme Court today directed the Centre and states/UnionTerritoriess to prepare suitable rehabilitation schemes fortheir welfare.

"We direct the central and state governments to prepareschemes for giving technical/vocational training to sexworkers and sexually abused women in all cities in India. Theschemes should mention in detail who will give thetechnical/vocational training and in what manner they can berehabilitated and settled by offering them employment.

"For instance, if a technical training is for some craftlike sewing garments etc, then some arrangements should alsobe made for providing a market for such garments, otherwisethey will remain unsold and unused, and consequently the womenwill not be able to feed themselves," a bench of justicesMarkandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said in an order.

The apex court said the Centre and state governmentsthrough Social Welfare Boards should prepare schemes forrehabilitation for prostitutes.

"We are of the view that the prostitutes also have aright to live with dignity under Article 21 of theConstitution of India since they are also human beings andtheir problems also need to be addressed.

"As already observed by us, a woman is compelled toindulge in prostitution not for pleasure but because of abjectpoverty. If such a woman is granted opportunity to avail sometechnical or vocational training, she would be able to earnher livelihood by such vocational training and skill insteadof by selling her body," the bench said.

The apex court passed the order while dismissing theappeal filed by Budhadev Karmaskar challenging the lifeimprisonment imposed by a sessions court in Kolkata for themurder of a sex worker in 1999. The Calcutta High Court hadconfirmed the penalty, following which he appealed in the apexcourt.

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