Punishment for Selling Minor for Purposes of Prostitution in India
When a female under the age of eighteen years is sold, let for hire, or otherwise disposed of to a prostitute or to any person who keeps or manages a brothel, the person so disposing of such female shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have disposed of her with the intent that she shall be used for the purpose of prostitution.
For the purposes of this section “illicit intercourse” means sexual intercourse between persons not united by marriage, or by any union or tie which, though not amounting to a marriage, is recognised by the personal law or custom of the community to which they belong or, where they belong to different communities, of both such communities, as constituting between them a quasi marital relation.
To sustain a conviction under the section, the essential ingredients to be proved by the prosecution are that:
(i) The person sold or disposed of is under 18 years; and
(ii) The selling, letting to hire or disposal must be with intent or knowledge that the person shall be employed for the purpose of prostitution, illicit intercourse or for any unlawful and immoral purpose.
According to English law, prostitution is proved if it be shown that a woman offers her body for purposes amounting to common lewdness for payment in return.
Making over a minor girl to a person for one act of sexual intercourse with him does amount to disposal for prostitution.
Section 6 of the Sexual Offences Act, 1967 lays down that a premises shall be treated as a brothel if people resort to it for the purpose of lewd homosexual practices in circumstances in which resort thereto for lewd heterosexual practices would have led to its being treated as a brothel for the purpose of those sections.
Under the common law of England, a brothel is described as a place promiscuously resorted to by persons of both sex for the purpose of prostitution.
The expression ‘illicit intercourse’ is different from the word ‘prostitution’. If a minor girl is sold with the intention of giving her in marriage, it cannot be said for the purpose of illicit intercourse, even if the marriage that takes place subsequently is not according to Hindu rites and customs strictly.
Ingredients of offence:
The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 372 are as follows:
(1) Accused sold, hired or otherwise disposed of a person;
(2) The victim was under 18 years of age;
(3) He did it with the intent or knowledge of the likelihood that the victim would be engaged or employed for the purpose of either: —
(a) Prostitution; or
(b) Illicit intercourse; or
(c) The purpose which is unlawful or immoral.