Cape Town – Human rights advocacy group Sonke Gender Justice says it is pleased with progress on calls for the decriminalisation of sex work in the country.
This follows after the Cabinet had announced plans that it wants to pass and publish a bill decriminalising the acquisition and sale of adult sex work for public feedback.
The bill seeks to revoke the Sexual Offences Act and Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
Speaking to CapeTalk, Sonke Gender Justice sex worker’s rights specialist, Jayne Arnott, said that they are welcoming the proposed amendments after decades of fighting and advocating for the rights of sex workers in the country.
“We are happy to know that the bill is coming out and what it is proposing because it is a full decriminalisation of the sex work industry,” she said.
Arnott said that If sex work is legalised, sex workers will benefit from the protection provided by labour laws and health and safety guidelines, and police services could be approached by sex workers without concern for arrest.
“This bill could also help reduce forced sex work and human trafficking as sex workers would be safe to work with police to prevent these situations, and that would be a huge change. For example, if you look at countries like New Zealand, which has fully decriminalised sex work where police sectors are communicating much better in terms of safety in preventing other elements such underage children who are being forced to sell sex.”
She added that decriminalisation means that it will further involve more laws from the government, and as the organisation, they believe that this is a way of protecting human rights and protecting the battling economy.
“For us, the crucial thing is that sex work will no longer be a criminal activity,” she said.