SA: Sex work’s legal status discussed once more at hearings

ERNEST MABUZA Published: 2009/07/01 06:38:04 AM

THE South African Law Reform Commission has received a number of divergent submissions on its discussion paper on adult prostitution, including one from an organisation that has been campaigning for many years for its decriminalisation, and another from a group that wants to restore marriage as the cornerstone of social policy.

Yesterday’s deadline to make submissions on the paper has been extended until mid-July.

The discussion paper aims to identify alternative legislative responses that might regulate, prevent, deter or reduce prostitution.

The commission proposed four options: total criminalisation of adult prostitution, partial criminalisation of some forms of adult prostitution, noncriminalisation of adult prostitution, and regulation of adult prostitution.

The Family Policy Institute made its submissions last Friday and its chairman, Errol Naidoo, said he had received calls from about 100 people who still wanted to make submissions.

In his submission, Naidoo said total criminalisation of the sex industry — with the attention of law enforcement and the prosecuting authorities focused on the procurers and the criminals who sexually exploited women — would significantly reduce prostitution.

“The main drivers of prostitution are the procurers — men who solicit and buy sex — and the human parasites who exploit women and children for financial gain like pimps, brothel and strip-club owners, gangs, crime syndicates and sex traffickers,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo said clamping down on the demand side, coupled with sustainable government-funded exit programmes in partnership with civil society, would significantly reduce prostitution because the overwhelming majority of women who wanted to escape prostitution would have a real choice.

“Prostitution is not labour, it is a violation of human rights and can never be considered work in the conventional sense of the word.”

In its draft paper, the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) recommended the decriminalisation of sex work alongside a new prostitution law that addresses potential harm and risk unique to the industry. It has until Friday to make its submission.

SWEAT said its aim was not to promote sex work as a career option but to enable sex workers to have the same protection as other workers.

The group said it would advocate the safeguarding of sex workers’ human rights, their protection from exploitation, and the promotion of their welfare and occupational health and safety. It would also lobby for “the improvement of social order by creating an environment that is conducive to public health and tackles crime”, and for the protection of children from exploitation.

Original at Business Day

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