A Mumbai Sessions Court has recently ruled that sex work can be termed an "offence" when its done in a public place causing nuisance to others, as it set free a 34-year-old commercial sex worker who was shunted to a shelter home against her wishes.
Following a raid on a brothel by the Mumbai Police in suburban Mulund in February, the CSW, along with two others, was arrested and produced before the Mazagaon Magistrate Court on February 19.
The Magistrate had gone through her medical report which proved she was a major, and sent her to the Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruh in Deonar suburb for a year's rehabilitation on March 15, though the other two women nabbed were released.
Challenging the order in the Sessions Court, the woman with two minor children, also denied indulging in any immoral activities as alleged by the police.
Hearing her plea, Additional Sessions Judge C. V. Patil said that the lower court had detained the victim only on the ground of antecedent of indulging in a similar kind of offence, which she has challenged.
Judge Patil ruled that the victim is a major and had the right to work, and there were no allegations that she was indulging in sex work in public.
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"As per the rule, to involve in sex work is not itself an offence, but to do sex work in public place so as to cause annoyance to others can be called as offence," he held.
He noted that the woman had two kids who needed her and if she was being detained against her wishes, then it curtailed her fundamental rights, including the freedom to move freely all over India, and quashed the Magistrate's order to set her free from the shelter home.
In mid-February, the Mumbai police had carried out the raids on a nearby shady hotel with decoy customers where the owner and manager were reportedly keeping women for purposes of prostitution for the customers.
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