Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 and aids policy
Apparently the present form of Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 makes it difficult to carry on HIV/AIDS sensitization work. Why is that so? I believe that the legislation doesn't make sex work illegal. What is the hue and cry about?
Sex work ( prostitution) per se is not an offence/illegal but the surrounding activities like brothel keeping (sec.3), living on earnings of the sex work, procuring or inducing for prostitution (sec.5 &6), prostitution in public areas(sec.7), soliciting(sec.8) has been made illegal under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act,1956.
Section 15 (5A) mandates medical examination of persons removed from brothels for, inter alia detection of sexually transmitted diseases. Sex workers are reportedly forcibly tested for HIV & their results disclosed in open Court. This is contrary to national policy, which requires consent, confidentiality & counselling for HIV Testing. Public health experts are worried that such a move of making stringent laws against the sex work would drive sex work underground and will hamper the efforts to control HIV/AIDS in the country. According to S. Jana(NACO) adviser “Penalising clients would not only mean loss of collective bargaining power for sex workers, but their isolation would also jeopardise the outreach of safe sex practice programmes meant for them,”. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006 contains a clause which penalises the clients, which may lead to underground prostitution thus making the sex workers more susceptible to unsafe sex.
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