“Sex work is a profession,” says SC; See 7 countries where sex work is legal

The Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling ordering police not to interfere with or prosecute consensual sex workers. He affirmed that sex work is a profession and that sex workers are entitled to equal legal protection and respect. A panel comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and AS Bopanna issued a series of orders, noting that authorities enforcing the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 must bear in mind the constitutional protection granted to all the inhabitants of the country.

According to the court, sex workers are entitled to equal legal protection. The criminal law should be applied consistently in all cases based on age and consent. The court added that under Article 21 of the Constitution, everyone in the country, regardless of profession, has the right to a dignified existence. The court also held that sex workers should not be imprisoned, penalized, harassed or victimized during brothel raids, as voluntary sex work is not illegal; only running brothels is.

The court also told cops not to treat sex workers unfairly who file a complaint, especially if the crime is sexual in nature. Victims of sexual assault working in the sex industry should be provided with all amenities, including prompt medical and legal assistance.

Although sex work in India has had legal sanction, the societal perspective and stigma of the profession has been detrimental. With India’s Supreme Court’s significant verdict to recognize sex work as a ‘profession’, this is a welcome change in the right direction. How many of us even knew that sex work was legal in India?

There are many other countries where sex work has been legalized for several years. We have compiled a list of a handful of these countries below.

Countries where sex work is legal

New Zealand

Prostitution, running brothels, living off the earnings of someone else’s prostitution and street soliciting have all become legal in New Zealand since the prostitution reform. The legalization of brothels, escort agencies and solicitation in 2003, as well as the replacement of a minimal regulatory approach, attracted international interest; New Zealand sex work regulations are currently among the most liberal in the world.

Australia

Since the implementation of the Sex Work Act 1992, also known as “Anna’s Law”, sex work has been legal in the territory. The Office of Regulatory Services requires former employees to register. In addition, owners of brothels or escort businesses must register with the authorities. But the legality of sex work may differ in each region because states have different laws. For example, in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia, independent sex work is legal, but brothels and pimping are illegal.

Bangladesh

Although male sex work is prohibited, all other activities related to sex work are permitted. Bangladesh has a serious human trafficking problem, which is exacerbated by corruption. It is also legal to pimp and own a brothel. sex workers must register and sign an affidavit stating that they voluntarily enter prostitution and are unable to find other employment.

Belgium

Although sex work is legal in Belgium, some related actions, including soliciting and pimping, are not. Belgian municipalities can also enact additional bans or regulations. Human trafficking or exploitation of persons engaged in prostitution is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.


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Colombia

In Colombia, sex work is legal, controlled and limited to brothels located in designated “tolerance zones”. Regular health checks are necessary for sex workers. However, due to poverty and internal displacement, the rules are rarely enforced. Moreover, similar to the plight of sex workers in India, Colombian sex workers face continued discrimination, violence and denial of rights. rights of sex workers, one NGO said in its 2016 report.

Netherlands

Sex work is legal and controlled in the Netherlands. It is also legal to keep a brothel. Amsterdam’s largest and best-known red light district is a popular sex tourism destination all over the world. In the Netherlands, customers are penalized if the authorities strongly suspect them of having coerced, exploited or are suspected of human trafficking. The law has been applied since January 2022.

Greece

Sex work is legal and regulated in Greece after the age of 18. Many poor women have turned to sex work due to the economic crisis. Greece has adopted the approach of treating prostitution as a legitimate occupation. Sex workers enjoy the same rights and are required to undergo regular health checks.

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