The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sympathy law for sex worker

New Delhi, June 8: Admitting that the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act is being used more against sex workers than traffickers, the Centre is planning to drop the provision that punishes women for “soliciting”, “loitering” and “offending public decency”.

The department of women and child development has come up with this and other changes to the law that aim to provide relief to the victims while tightening the noose around the pimps.

The changes are set to be cleared at the next meeting of the cabinet.

“More and more women are being booked under the anti-trafficking act whereas very few traffickers are brought within its ambit. This is resulting in revictimisation of victims,” says the department.

But there is discord among the states on the proposal to scrap punishment for women found “soliciting” clients.

Most of the states are supporting the move, but Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Delhi are opposing it on the grounds that this will encourage sex trade.

The amendments propose more stringent punishment. A first-time offender will be imprisoned for not less than three years ' the same as now ' and will have to pay a fine of up to Rs 10,000, up from the current Rs 2,000.

Second- and third-time offenders can be imprisoned for seven years and the fine can go up to Rs 2 lakh. At present, the maximum sentence is five years and the maximum fine Rs 10,000.

The amendments come after the government admitted to failure in checking trafficking of women and children.

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