Sunitha Krishnan writes to NHRC after advisory recognises sex work

Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act very clearly lays down the institution of prostitution is illegal, she said

Sunitha Krishnan
Sunitha Krishnan's NGO Prajwala has been working to eradicate sex trafficking and sexual slavery for over two decades | File Photo: Twitter

Padma Shri awardee social activist Sunitha Krishnan has raised concerns over a recent advisory by the National Human Rights Commission that enlists sex workers as informal sector workers and help them avail welfare schemes of the government.

Krishnan, whose NGO Prajwala has been working to eradicate sex trafficking and sexual slavery for over two decades, termed as “human rights violation” the alleged use of the current COVID-19 situation to legitimise the “illegal institution of prostitution”.

Related news: Bombay HC sets 3 sex workers free, says prostitution not illegal

“Our law, which is the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act very clearly lays down that the institution of prostitution is illegal. There is no concept of “sex work”,” she wrote to the chairperson of the NHRC, with “deep sense of anguish and pain.”


“Sex is either a consensual engagement between two adults or it is rape. Commercial sex, if engaged through any institutional process is illegal and liable for prosecution. Hence, Government of India has never recognised “sex work”,” she wrote.

Krishnan shared her letter on Twitter, stating: “There is a point in your life when u have to take a clear position publicly. It is now! Deeply disturbed & concerned about ‘Human Rights Advisory on Rights of Women in the Context of Covid19’ issued by Hon’ble @India_NHRC.”

This comes in response to an NHRC advisory on the ‘rights of women’ in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to read the NHRC advisory 

In its advisory, based on an impact assessment by an 11-member panel, the NHRC has directed the states to provide immediate relief measures to the sex workers. It further advises that migrant sex workers be included into schemes for migrant workers.

Krishnan further said that it is “shocking that the so called “expert body” has several categories of women and girls who suffer the worst form of human rights violation…”

“Among others in the Section III (B) of Women at Work, the advisory has practically asked the Government to legalise ‘sex work’ in India by giving it legitimate registration status,” her letter read.