Taking into account recommendations of a panel of experts, the Supreme Court has directed the Centre and State Governments to consider providing ration cards and voter identity cards to sex workers as a step towards their rehabilitation.
The SC bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra passed an order to this effect after a Court-appointed panel comprising two senior lawyers Pradip Ghosh and Jayant Bhushan recommended the same to the Court.
Welcoming the judgement, Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working for the welfare of sex-workers, said, “Issuing the sex workers an identity card like a voter or ration card would open channels for the sex workers to integrate in the society and have a decent livelihood”.
“We want them to have an identity of a citizen of India and not of a sex worker. Once the identification process starts we can rescue and rehabilitate girls who are forced into flesh trade”, Rishi Kant added.
The SC bench asked the Centre and States “to ensure that the admission of the children of sex workers in appropriate classes in the Government schools and Government sponsored schools and schools run by the Municipal and District level authorities is not hampered in any way, because of their tainted social status.”
In its third report the panel also recommended an appropriate order directing the State Governments, local authorities and Election Commission to issue Ration Cards and Voter I-cards to the sex workers treating them as persons in special category and relaxing the rigours of the rules/requirements regarding the verification of their address and without mentioning their profession in the card.
On asking about the nationality issues of sex workers who have migrated from countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, the activist from Shakti Vahini said that the government was very clear that their cases would strictly be subjected to their country’s judicial system and not India’s.