Legalising sex work the only option - Women's caucus

2017-05-30 17:55


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Cape Town – The full decriminalisation of sex work is the only way to protect the rights of sex workers and address the country’s HIV/Aids crisis, Parliament's multi-party women's caucus said on Tuesday.

The authors of a South African Law Reform Commission report on adult prostitution were oblivious to the fact that legalising sex work would allow sex workers to access the criminal justice system, caucus chairperson Masefele Morutoa said.

"This has been pivotal to the calls made by many sex workers calling for full decriminalisation."

He was reacting to the SALRC’s report, entitled Sexual Offences: Adult Prostitution, which Justice Minister Michael Masutha released on Friday.

Morutoa said it was disappointing that the report’s authors concluded that changing the existing legislative framework could create an “extremely dangerous cultural shift juxtaposed against the high numbers of sexual crimes already committed”.

The report contains two scenarios for how government could approach the issue. The first is to retain a totally criminalised legal framework. This was the SALRC’s preferred option.

The second favours the partial criminalisation of adult prostitution. It criminalises all role-players, except the person providing the sexual service. This option could, however, lead to exploited women being subjected to further violence and harm.

Morutoa said the report’s authors turn a blind eye to the "vociferous voice of sex workers... and is thus not linked to evidence".

“The full decriminalisation of sex work is the only model that respects the rights of sex workers with the potential to address the HIV crisis facing South Africa."

The caucus would meet on Wednesday to explore its options.

Masutha said it was important, given the varying views on the subject, and the cyclical trap that women providing sexual services found themselves in, that government received public input into the report.

Read more on:    cape town  |  sex workers

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