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Report No. 64

Chapter 3

Scope of The Act

3.1. Scope of the Act-three broad categories of offences.-

A few observations about the scope of the Act may be made. It is a common misconception amongst laymen-and sometimes even amongst lawyers-that the Act is intended to prohibit prostitution. The Act, in fact, does not go so far. It deals with prohibition only in some of its aspects. In the first place, if a person promotes prostitution by another person, and derives a monetary benefit therefrom, the Act applies.1 Again, if a person exploits women and girls and makes them lead a life of vice, the Act is attracted.2 Finally, if a person solicits customers for prostitution in the specific circumstances, he is punished under the Act.3 Under section 7, for example, prostitution in the vicinity of public places is punished. In short4-

(i) profiting by the prostitution of another person, or

(ii) exploiting another person for prostitution, or

(iii) soliciting in a public place etc., are the broad categories of the main offences created by the Act. But a woman or girl who offers her body for hire, without soliciting or doing any of the other acts mentioned in the penal sections, is not guilty of an offence under the Act. The Act, thus, stops short of banning prostitution absolutely, and deals with only certain specified and concrete forms of immoral conduct. The ultimate object is, no doubt, to check prostitution, but the methods adopted are limited in their scope. The philosophy reflected in the Act is that the law should stop only where the vice either assumes a commercialised form, so that public policy requires its suppression, or appears in a public place, so that it constitutes a public nuisance. In the absence of such special features, the mere immoral conduct which is known as "prostitution"- and which is defined in the Act also5-is not treated as criminal.

1. Sections 3 and 4.

2. Sections 5 and 6.

3. Sections 7 and 8.

4. For detailed analysis of offences see Chapter 5, infra.

5. Section 2(f)-"prostitution".

Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 Back

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