Immoral Traffic in Persons Act

The Immoral Traffic Persons (Prevention) Act or PITA is a bit of legislation passed in India in 1956 as a result of the India signing the United Nations' declaration in 1950 in New York on the suppression of trafficking. The act was then called the All India Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act (SITA), but was amended in 1986 to the current law.

The laws were intended as a means of limiting and eventually abolishing prostitution in India by gradually criminalizing various aspects of sex work. The law itself is vague in many respects, since it does not make prostitution a crime, but forbids sex workers from publicly soliciting customers. Prostitutes are forbidden to practice their trade within 200 yards of a "public place" or a notified area (a "notified area" is a place that is declared by the government to be "prostitution-free" by the state government under the PITA).

The main points of the PITA are as follows:


A client is guilty of consorting with prostitutes and can be charged if he engages in sex acts with a sex worker within 200 yards of a public place or notified area. The client may also be charged with rape if the sex worker is below sixteen years of age.

Pimps and Babus

Babus or live-in lovers who live off a prostitute's earning are guilty of a crime. Any adult male living with a prostitute is assumed to be guilty unless he can prove otherwise. The same law is applied to pimps and procurers and those who abet prostitution.


Landlords and brothel-keepers are guilty of breaking the law and can be prosecuted, but in practice this rarely occurs unless it is occurring in public view. Hotels can be temporarily or permanently shut down if they or any of their rooms are serving as a brothel of if any of the sex workers are under sixteen years of age. Forcing someone to remain at a brothel for the purpose of sexual exploitation is a violation and can be prosecuted.

Rescued Women

The government is legally obligated to provide rescue and rehabilitation in a protective home for any sex worker requesting assistance.

External Links and References

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