Hyderabad: In a first, Andhra Pradesh is exploring the option to criminalise sex buyers in order to address the core of the problem of sex trafficking.
According to reports, the AP government on Friday appointed a panel of legal experts and campaigners to study anti-trafficking laws that could be applied to buyers of sex, and to make recommendations within 60 days.
"The sex buyer, who generates the demand and is at the core of the problem of sex trafficking, often escapes the law," Times of India reported citing a government order issued by the department of Women and Child Welfare Department.
"AP becomes the first state to explore the option of criminalizing demand for flesh trade," said anti-trafficking activist Sunita Krishnan, who will be on the seven-member advisory group.
"Girls will continue to be sold until buyers are criminalised", she added.
She also appreciated Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu for "thinking bold" and standing up for the safety of women and children.
Of an estimated 20 million sex workers in India, 16 million women and girls are victims of trafficking, according to a 2013 report called by four non-profit groups, including Dunya and the Omidyar Network, according to Reuters.
Public calls to criminalise those paying to have sex with children have increased recently, and BJP leader Shaina NC set up a change.org petition last month to seek tougher action.
"Children are being preyed upon by men who sometimes pay as little as Rs.100 to have sex with a minor", Shaina says in her petition which so far has been signed by more than 123,000 supporters.
"And these are the men, the customers, who sustain the organised crime of pushing children into prostitution.
"From red light areas to online portals and even private guest houses and apartments, the places where this exploitation takes place keep changing but what has remains constant is the demand.
"As long as there is demands from the customers, this horrific illegal trade will continue.
"I want these men to be arrested so that the society knows their true face and we can safeguard our children against these predators", Shaina NC says in the petition.
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