Sex work in South Africa must be decriminalised —in a democratic society, this cannot be put on the back burner any longer.
The decriminalisation of sex work would be a progressive and proactive step forward in supporting the rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. It would limit the risk of HIV infection for sex workers and go a long way towards curbing the abuse that they experience at the hands of customers, employers, and the police.
By Janie Booth and Victoria Wang
Gender-based violence is an injustice affecting many women and girls worldwide. The problem is of significant magnitude and South Africa records some of the highest rates of sexual violence. Violence against sex workers is particularly pronounced.
I was therefore greatly dismayed when the African Law Commission (ALC) released its long-awaited Report on Sexual Offences: Adult Prostitution on 26 May 2017, recommending that sex work should be fully criminalised. The report is not only outdated, having taken over three years to be released, but it completely ignores human rights research supported by recommendations by international instruments such as the CEDAW and Maputo Protocol.