High Court: “Sex Workers Should Not Be Punished During Raids”
The Madras High Court has ordered that when police raid a brothel home, sex workers shall not be arrested or punished. Justice N Satish Kumar rejected a FIR filed against a brothel house customer, citing a recent Supreme Court decision that stated that when a brothel is raided, sex workers should not be arrested, penalised, harassed, or victimised, and that it is only the operating of the brothel that is illegal.
“In the case at hand, simply because the petitioner was in a location that the respondents (police) allege to be a brothel run by someone, the petitioner cannot be charged with any criminal offence, and the petitioner’s act also cannot be said to be an act of pressuring the sex workers to commit acts in which they were not interested,” the judge said.
A criminal original petition by one Udayakumar, who was arrested from a brothel house in Chintadripet, was granted by the judge. The petitioner was present with the sex workers when the police raided the massage centre, and he was detained and arrayed as Accused No. 5.
Even if the full charges were considered together, according to the petitioner’s counsel, no offence would be committed. It was not illegal to perform sex work, but it was unlawful to maintain a brothel. Because the sex workers entered the profession by their own free will and not as a result of any inducement, force, or coercion, such activities were not punishable under Section 370 of the IPC.
The first accused ran a brothel under the guise of a massage centre, according to the Additional Public Prosecutor. According to the Supreme Court decision, any sex worker who is an adult and is engaging in sexual activity with his or her own consent should not be prosecuted by the police. According to the circumstances, as evidenced by the FIR and the alteration report, there was no hint of coercion on the part of the sex workers to do the act, especially from the petitioner. That being the case, and the petitioner not being accused of coercing the sex worker to do the sexual act, the judge stated that maintaining the FIR against the petitioner was a useless exercise that would serve no purpose, and the case against the petitioner was cancelled.
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