Calls for legalisation intensify after murder of 3 sex workers
Johannesburg - The call to decriminalise prostitution has intensified after the death of three sex workers and brutal assualt of one in February.
In a joint press statement, Sonke Gender Justice, Sex Worker Education & Advocacy Taskforce, Women’s Legal Centre and Sisonke National Sex Worker Movement said the release of the South African Law Reform Commission report on ‘Adult Prostitution’ (Project 107) has been delayed for more than 15 years and they want answers.
The group said the report is supposed to contain government's recommendations on how the laws on sex work should be reformed to afford more protection to workers in this area.
It said recognising sex worker rights and safety is now more important than ever.
Last month (February 2016), three sex workers were shot in the Eastern Cape, allegedly by a client. Two tragically passed away, and the third is in a critical condition. In Nelspruit, a female sex worker was found strangled and stabbed to death, also, allegedly by a client.
Sex workers face exceptionally high levels of violence and gender based violence. They suffer risk of rape, abuse and murder.
"This is largely due to the on-going criminalisation of sex work, which makes sex workers easy targets of abuse. All aspects of sex work are criminalised in South Africa, and drive sex workers away from social services, health care and police protection."
The coalition said attention needs to be drawn to sex worker-friendly and non-discriminatory health care, including non-judgemental health care workers and police officers.
Later this month, the Department of Health is expected to launch the “The South African National Sex Worker HIV Plan, 2016 – 2019”. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaeldi are expected to outlay plans to safeguard sex worker rights and public health & safety.
Spokesperson Joe Maila did not respond to questions put to him by Newsful about what issues the plan would resolve or on the coalition's claims that it has taken over a decade and a half for government to respond Project 107.
March 3rd is International Sex Worker Rights Day.