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Significant changes are coming to South Africa, and much attention is being paid to decriminalising sex work.
The Newcastillian – Online News reported in June 2021 on the KZN Legislature’s Sex Workers Symposium, which brought together sex workers, municipal and legislature officials, and sex work advocates. This also included Sisonke, Asijiki, and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat), to discuss the realities of sex workers in KZN.
During the event, the group stressed that Gender-Based Violence could not be separated from the abuse that sex workers were subjected to. It was also stated that prostitutes are frequently stigmatised, with few people willing to advocate for their rights.
Among the difficulties sex workers encountered, police brutality and discrimination by healthcare workers at specific clinics when collecting their HIV medication were mentioned.
At the time, the KZN Legislature decided to expedite decriminalising and regulating sex work to provide much-needed freedom to sex workers across the country.
Newcastle prostitutes welcomed the symposium with open arms, explaining that they had suffered atrocities at the hands of police and other clients.
To read the entire article, click here.
In addition, in 2017, the South African Law Reform Commission published its Report on Adult Prostitution. Cabinet decided not to make a policy decision at the time, believing that the issue of possible decriminalisation of sex work should be discussed further.
Currently, our country criminalises the sale and purchase of sexual services. The criminalising provisions are found in two separate statutes: the Sexual Offences Act of 1957 and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007.
There are also several municipal bylaws that, directly or indirectly, apply to the removal or prosecution of sex workers.
It is strange to think that sexual services are illegal, yet if people consent to film themselves engaging in a sexual act, they can sell the footage legally. (Food for thought).
And now, according to the Department of Justice, various policy options exist. To move the debate on possible adult sex decriminalisation forward, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery is convening a series of consultative meetings with various stakeholders and interest groups.
In a closed meeting, the Deputy Minister recently met with representatives of the pro-decriminalisation sex work sector.
Following the meeting, Jeffery plans to hold a series of similar discussions with other stakeholders who support the so-called Nordic Model.
In addition, Jeffery will meet with religious organisations and traditional leaders. The dates of these meetings have yet to be determined.
“It is important that we fully engage with stakeholders regarding the proposed policy options, as there are many divergent views. We need to further engage with relevant government departments to ascertain the implications of changing the legislative framework and we also engage the public on their views. The issue of decriminalisation may be a contested one, but is also one that needs to be debated and a decision taken, as the issue has been one which has been delayed for far too long,” said Deputy Minister Jeffery.
What are your thoughts now that steps are being taken to decriminalise sex work? Share your views in the comment section below.