File picture: Christian Hartmann/Reuters
File picture: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Recommendations made to decriminalise prostitution

By Yolisa Tswanya Time of article published Nov 30, 2017

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Cape Town - Prostitution might become legal, should recommendations proposed in a report be passed in Parliament.

The report of the high level panel on the assessment of key legislation and the

acceleration of fundamental change

said South Africa’s current legislative framework regarded prostitution as


“Parliament should use its powers to introduce the following legislative changes to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act 32 of 2007 with regard to protecting those who sell sex; the act should be amended to decriminalise prostitution in order to remove the unintended consequences arising from

the criminalisation of prostitution for those who sell sex; and other legislative provisions contained in national, provincial and municipal legislation criminalising prostitution for those who sell sex or making it an offence should also be amended.”

The move has been welcomed by NGOs focused on challenging gendered power inequalities that continue to oppress women and girls through prostitution.

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, executive director of Embrace Dignity, said they welcomed the recommendation and said the report reflected their submissions where they argued that “the sex trade is inherently exploitative”.

“There is no choice or safety in prostitution for women and marginalised people who are sold for sex. It can never be made safe.

“We hope that the South African government responds immediately to both this report and also the recent in-depth analysis by the South African Law Reform Commission, which recommended decriminalising those selling sex while criminalising pimping, brothel-keeping and buying sex as a preferred option.

“The aim of this approach is to arrest the demand and address the structural oppression that drives prostitution.

“The equality model law, also referred to as the ‘third way’, is informed by the lived reality of those who are bought, sold and exploited in the sex trade and has been seen to work in countries which rank high for gender equality including Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada, France and the Republic of Ireland.”

Madlala-Routledge said she hoped South Africa could be the first African country to adopt the equality model law by enacting a South African version that takes into account the country’s unique circumstances.

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Cape Argus

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