Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1986 (by Vasundhara Singh)

July 27, 2020, 6:05 p.m. by Vasundhara Singh ( 1207 views)

Share on WhatsApp Share on Facebook

The legal system on sex workers in India is commenced under the Suppression of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (SITA). Later in 1986 it was amended and changed to the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA).

Trafficking doesn't mean prostitution. They are not equal. Incomprehension dealing, one ought to delink it from prostitution. According to the current law, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 (ITPA) prostitution turns into an offense when there is business misuse of an individual. On the off chance that a lady or kid is explicitly abused and any individual increases out of the equivalent, it adds up to Commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), which is a legitimately culpable offense wherein the culpability lies against all exploiters. Dealing is the way toward selecting, contracting, getting, or recruiting an individual for CSE. Hence, dealing is a procedure and CSE is the outcome. The 'request' in CSE produces, advances, and propagates dealing. This is an endless loop. Dealing could likewise be a method for different sorts of infringement, for example, for creating obscene material, for advancing sex the travel industry, for sexual misuse under the veneer of bartending, knead parlors and so on, or in any event, for exploitative work where sexual maltreatment might exist together.

ITPA visualizes just dealing with CSE. Business action need not be in a whorehouse, however could likewise happen in places including a private dwelling, a vehicle, and so forth. In this manner, a cop who is acting under ITPA has forced to make strides in every single such circumstance where dealing prompts or is probably going to prompt CSE in any structure, including those under the veneer of back rub parlors, bartending, 'vacationer circuit', 'escort administrations', 'companionship clubs', and so on.

This act does not proscribe with sex work per se but it deals with specific activities related to prostitution. It also provides for liberation and rehabilitation of persons in this line of work.

The act is applied through Police and Magistracy. ITPA includes various kinds of punishment under it:

I. Prohibition of Brothels: Section 2(a) defines “brothel” as “any house, room, conveyance or place or any portion of any house, room, conveyance or place which is used for purposes of sexual exploitation or abuse for the gain of another person or the mutual gain of two or more prostitutes‟.” Section 3 provides punishment for keeping, running & managing a brothel. The term “mutual gain of two or more sex workers”, eases premises shared by sex workers illegal, including their residence. There have been several occasions where sex workers have lost their homes & earnings under the pretext of “closing down brothels”. As long as brothels remain illegal, widespread condom use cannot be achieved.

II. Criminalization of Earnings of Sex Work: Section 4 punishes adult persons being economically supported by sex workers including those living with sex workers. Therefore, aged parents, siblings, partner(s), and offspring over 18 years, who are reliant on sex workers are treated as criminals. In reality, a significant majority of persons, particularly women, turn to sex work to upkeep their families including children & parents. Ironically, these very persons are punishable by law.

III. Penalties for Soliciting: Section 8 punishes a sex worker drawing the attention of potential customers from a visible, noticeable site, whether in a street or private dwelling. The criminalization of soliciting is one of the most apparent legal problems for sex workers, who are faced with arrests, court hearings & convictions on a repetitive basis. Sex workers are arrested even when they are not soliciting. A number of them plead guilty finding themselves in a vicious cycle of criminalization. Though this provision does nothing to prevent or halt trafficking, it is “most-used”, with maximum arrests & convictions being reported under Section 8, Immoral Traffic Prevention Act.

IV. Statutory Powers & Procedures: Immoral Traffic Prevention Act confers wide-ranging powers on Police to conduct & Magistrates to order:

Raid Police can enter and search any properties on suspicion. Raids are often carried out in breach of legal procedure for public witness, female Police, etc. Violence, abuse & humiliation of sex workers are days today phenomena. Raids impair sex workers‟ ability & result in greater than before harm. Medical examination Section 15 (5A) mandates a medical examination of persons removed from brothels for, inter alia detection of sexually transmitted diseases. Sex workers are reportedly against their will are tested for HIV & their results are revealed in open Court. This is opposing to national policy, which requires consent, secrecy & counseling for HIV Testing. Rescue &Rehabilitation Police can remove any person found in premises where sex work is carried out irrespective of age & Dynamic Views theme. Consent. Rehabilitation is synonymous with detention in State-run homes for unspecified periods. Viable economic substitutes are either non-existent or inaccessible to sex workers on account of stigma.

V.Expulsion of sex workers: Section 18 & Section 20 authorizes Magistrates to close down brothels & oust persons from premises where sex work is being carried out, including their residence. Vulnerable with eviction, sex workers are forced to relocate with no access to health & HIV services. Over the last 50 years, the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act has failed to prevent & stop trafficking. On the contrary, it has become a source of cruelty on sex workers, who face routine harassment & repeated arrests.

If a person found with a child it is presumed that he has imprisoned that child there for sexual intercourse and hence shall be punishable to seven-year in prison or up to life imprisonment, or a term which may extend to ten years and also a maximum fine of one lakh rupees. If a child is found in a brothel and after the medical examination has been found to have been sexually abused, it is presumed that the child has been detained for prostitution.


-Vasundhara Singh

-LLM in Media and Entertainment Law from Amity University Noida in the year 2018-19.

-Completed my B.B.A.LLB (H) from Amity University, Lucknow in the year 2018.

Comments (0)