Criminalising Sex Work Is Ineffective Says A Disappointed Women’s Legal Centre

The long awaited South African Law Reform Commission has recommended that sex work should be fully criminalised.
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The Women's Legal Centre on Friday voiced its disappointment at the long awaited South African Law Reform Commission which has recommended that sex work should be fully criminalised.

WLC's spokesperson, Angie Richardson, said the organisation worked on behalf of the Asijiki partners in engaging the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to compel the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to release the report which had been in their possession for the past three years.

"The delay has resulted in the continuation of abduction, rape, murder and unlawful arrests of sex workers," said Richardson.

The long awaited report was released on Friday.

Richardson said the report was based on outdated research and it did not talk to harm reduction.

"It completely ignores human rights research supported by recommendations by international instruments such as the Cedaw and Maputo Protocol."

Police brutality

She said partial decriminalisation as a secondary recommendation in the report is not an effective solution.

"Sex workers will still be forced to work in secluded areas where it is unsafe, putting them at risk. Added to this, sex workers will continue to experience high levels of police brutality."

Attorney at WLC, Mosima Kekana, said the organisation was in full support of the decriminalisation of sex work.

"This is the only system which will reduce human rights violations against these women... It will also reduce arbitrary and unlawful arrests of sex workers, and allow sex workers to freely report cases of trafficking without fear of being arrested themselves.

"It will promote women to exercise autonomous bodily integrity, thus enabling sex workers to negotiate condom usage culminating to reduction of the spread of HIV."

Kekana said: "The criminalisation of sex work is ineffective as a deterrent, and this leads to the increased abuse of sex workers, and an inefficient allocation of the State's resources in the fight against crime.

"Thus, sex workers are stigmatised in society, which has a negative impact on their ability to access everyday services and enjoy family life, and undermines any interventions to fight the spread of HIV." -- News24