South Africa: The Case for Decriminalising Sex Work


Human Rights Watch has released its report 'Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalised in South Africa'. The report says South African authorities are compromising the safety and well-being of sex workers and leave them open to sexual and physical abuse.

Decriminalising sex work has been a debate since shortly after apartheid. A new Human Rights Watch report mentions the 2009 SA Law Reform Commission discussion paper on "adult prostitution". The 70-page report, 'Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalised in South Africa', released on 7 August 2019, factors in the link between the criminalisation of sex work and poverty, lack of access to proper healthcare services and violence against sex workers by clients, police and others who take advantage of their vulnerability.

The report is based on research conducted between May and June 2018, with 46 sex workers from Gauteng, Western Cape and Limpopo interviewed. The report focused on cisgender females as, according to a 2013 study by the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), 90% of sex workers are female.

"Given that sex workers in South Africa are overwhelmingly female, and also given our research team's focus on women's rights and violence against women, we were specifically interested in...

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