25 May 2014

South Africa: GroundUp - Why South Africa Should Decriminalise Sex Work


The question of decriminalisation of sex work has recently been brought back into the public eye, firstly by the leaking of a draft policy document developed by Amnesty International, advocating for decriminalisation of both the buying and selling of sex. By Ayesha Krige and Marlise Richter for GROUNDUP.

This received strong criticism from those opposed to sex work, such as Nicholas Kristof, who writes opinion pieces for the New York Times.

The second event that raised the issue was the vote by European Parliament earlier this year in favour of adopting the Swedish model of decriminalisation of sex work. This model criminalises the purchase of sex, prosecuting clients only.

For those committed to policy reform for sex work in South Africa, these events are significant and will influence the debate on what legal model South Africa should adopt.

The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) has previously considered four policy models on sex work in South Africa: full criminalisation, partial criminalisation (the Swedish model would fall under this), legalisation and full decriminalisation. Although supporters of the Swedish model have hailed it as a great success, and as a more 'woman-friendly' policy approach to sex work, research has shown that the...

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