Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalised in South Africa

Human Rights Watch

Selling sex has been illegal in South Africa since at least the early 1900s and buying sex was criminalised in 2007. South African laws also prohibit other aspects of sex work, including running or owning a brothel, living off the earnings of “prostitution,” and enticing a woman into “prostitution.” The criminalisation of sex work has not deterred people from selling sex to make a living. Criminalisation has, however, made sex work less safe. It undermines sex workers’ access to justice for crimes committed against them and exposes them to unchecked abuse and exploitation by law enforcement officials, including police officers. And although the Department of Health’s National Strategic Plan on HIV for Sex Workers is grounded in respect for the human rights of sex workers, outreach, and nondiscrimination, criminalisation hinders sex workers’ efforts to access health care, including HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

April 20, 2020
Year of publication
2019
Tags
decriminalization of sex work, HIV pandemic

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