Johannesburg - ANC members should lobby for the decriminalisation of prostitution because some of the party's officials used prostitutes' services, the Sisonke Sex Workers Movement said.
“It's unfortunate that we are good enough for the ANC politicians to make use of our services, but they are afraid to come out in support of decriminalisation of sex work, and the protection of our human rights,” Sisonke national lobbyist Nosipho Vidima said.
She was responding to media reports that prostitutes made good money during the African National Congress's election manifesto weekend in Mbombela.
Vidima said prostitutes were generally too professional to expose their clients in public, but would appreciate some support towards securing their rights, a Sapa correspondent reported.
“Actually, sometimes when we go to Parliament to lobby for decriminalisation we recognise some of the MPs as our clients.”
Sisonke, which works with the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce, is a prostitute-led movement launched in October 2003 in Worcester during a meeting of 70 prostitutes from across South Africa.
Based in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, the organisation wants adult prostitutes to be free of exploitation by police officers and shrewd pimps.
“We understand that with the elections looming no one wants to rock the boat and risk not being re-elected into their seat,” Vidima said.
“But the least they could do is to help us put pressure on the SA Law Reform Commission to speed up the Sexual Offences Act 'Adult Prostitution' Law Reform Project (107),” she said.
Prostitution's criminalised status and the perception that prostitutes were too powerless to enforce their rights made them easy targets for economic exploitation.
“When an offence is committed under such laws, the proper procedure is for a warning and then (for a) fine to be given, with the opportunity for the person fined to contest the charge in a court of law,” Vidima said.
Mpumalanga police spokesman Colonel Leonard Hlathi warned prostitutes not to be proud of illegal activities.
“That they made money during the ANC event is nothing we can comment on. They should not be proud of such activities because selling sex is a crime,” he said.
“Police arrest them when they find them working in the streets and they are fined because it is a crime.” - Sapax