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Is Red Light Area Legal In India?

To put it in the simplest words possible, there are no such laws in India stating that red light areas are illegal in India. But still, you may have heard in the news that police regularly raid red-light areas and brothels. The thing is, selling sex isn’t illegal in India, but maintaining a brothel is, so keep that in mind. Now let’s take a look at the specific laws regarding this topic, and the debate that goes on when it comes to red light areas being legal or illegal in India. Here we go.

Red Light Area

Legal Framework Governing Prostitution

The main law dealing with prostitution in India is Section 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, or ITPA. This Act aims to prevent trafficking and interestingly enough, it does not make prostitution a crime. However, it criminalizes some acts like the keeping aka management of brothels, living on earnings of prostitution, and solicitation in public places. Furthermore, the Indian Penal Code includes human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and minors as specific provisions.

The Reality of Red Light Areas In India

Red light areas are those districts in a city or town that host a large number of brothels and commercial sex workers. Though selling sex per law is not considered illegal in India, related activities like running a brothel and public solicitation are. This brings to light the vague legal framework under which a lot of cases exist, oftentimes leading to police raids and arrests with no explicit law against such areas.

And yes, the Supreme Court of India has issued several significant decisions concerning the rights of sex workers. These pronouncements reiterated that sex workers be given dignity and protection under the Constitution. The Court set the ground that punishing consensual adult sex work with a jail term was unwarranted and thereby reached further to acknowledge the rights of sex workers.

Yes, the debate of whether to legalize or regulate the red light districts is never-ending. That is going to ensure the protection of sex workers and bring out a change from social ostracism, while the critics have it that this could increase trafficking and exploitation on another level is not paid attention to. This debate goes further into international approaches, where some countries have legalized and regulated prostitution as a way of protecting sex workers, while others still maintain firm prohibitions.


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