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A People's Constitution$
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Rohit De

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174433

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174433.001.0001

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The Case of the Honest Prostitute

The Case of the Honest Prostitute

Sex, Work, and Freedom in the Indian Constitution

(p.169) 4 The Case of the Honest Prostitute
A People's Constitution

Rohit De

Princeton University Press

This chapter studies the new laws against prostitution, enacted to enforce Article 23 of the Constitution, which sought to end the trafficking of women. For nationalists and leaders of the Indian women's movement, independence meant the achievement of constitutional and legal equality and the emergence of the republican female citizen as a moral, productive member of society. However, legislators and social workers were confronted by a different conception of freedom when sex workers began to file constitutional challenges to the anti-trafficking laws. They asserted their constitutional right to a trade or a profession and to freedom of movement around the country, and they challenged the procedural irregularities in the new statutes. The chapter then demonstrates that despite the sex workers' minimal success in the courts, this litigation prompted mobilization and associational politics outside the court and brought rights language into the everyday life of the sex trade.

Keywords:   prostitution, Indian women's movement, sex workers, anti-trafficking laws, constitutional right, freedom of movement, sex trade

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