Sex Work Decriminalization In South Africa: 5 Things We Should All Expect


Sex Work Decriminalization In South Africa – Those who are against the legalization of prostitution in South Africa have always insisted that sellers of sex ought to be punished by the law for the spread of diseases and other sins that comes with promiscuity.

But increasingly, talks about sex work decriminalization in South Africa is gaining grounds. In fact, the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) in its 54th national conference in Johannesburg, divulge plans to decriminalize sex work in the country.

Speaking on this, Nocawe Noncedo, the chairperson of the Human Settlements Portfolio Committee related that the legalization would be structured to be like New Zealand’s model. Should that happen, here are the things everyone should expect.

1. Sex Workers Will Have Equal Rights As Any Other Worker In The Country 

This means there will be a complete inclusion and acknowledgement of sex workers as valued and respected citizens of South Africa. As expected, the country will have a legal and safe adult sex industry where sex work will be recognized as work.

As such, sex workers would have a strong voice to agitate for all the rights any other worker in the country would claim. As it’s usual for workers to take to the street or embark on strike for several reasons in South Africa, it wouldn’t be long before the country witness the prostitutes asking for better pay and working conditions.

2. They Can Get Clients Arrested For Being An A**holes

Being a prostitute comes with many ugly experiences. You are regarded as the scum of the society, people would talk down to you and those empowered to maintain public order aren’t eager to protect you from those who believe causing you harm is doing God’s works.

With the decriminalization of sex work, you will have the boldness to assert your self and earn you living offering sexual services. Clients and other individuals who treat you inhumanely will be punished by the law.

See Also – Sex Robots Facts: 7 Intriguing Things You Never Knew

3. Sex Trafficking Will Decline

Proponents of sex work decriminalization in South Africa believes that it will go a long way in facilitating a decline in sex trafficking. It is believed that criminalization makes sex workers fear arrest and extralegal abuse from the police. Thus, they are unwilling to have any contact with them and aren’t inspired to report abuse against themselves or other sex workers.

Also, it is said that clients who are often the only outsiders to come in contact with someone who is being trafficked or coerced into selling sex are unwilling to report suspected abuse for fear of being arrested.

You will find more of this sentiment on the Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce’s (SWEAT) fact Sheet on Sex Work, Human Trafficking & The Harm Of Conflating The Two.

4. The Number Of Sex Workers Might Even slightly Reduce

Surprisingly, we can expect that the number of sex workers in the country would reduce. This is based on the findings of New Zealand’s Prostitution Law Review Committee five years after the country decriminalized sex work.  Excerpts from the committee’s report read:

“The sex industry has not increased in size, and many of the social evils predicted by some who opposed the decriminalisation of the sex industry have not been experienced…the vast majority of people involved in the sex industry are better off…”

5. Rape Would Decline

Well, we have long agreed that South Africa is the rape capital of the world. In view of this, it has commonly been assumed that the legalization of prostitution would reduce the rate at which people are being raped.

Though both the buyers and sellers of sex in South Africa are going against the country’s criminal law on sexual offences and related matters, they are hardly been held responsible for the crime. Pimping and brothel-keeping are common and, law enforcement agencies in the country are obviously not interested in acknowledging that anyone who has unlawful carnal intercourse or commits an act of indecency for reward is guilty of an offence.

Among other things, it is expected that the decriminalisation of sex work in the country would among other things, take away the vulnerability of the 182,000 women and men who make a living from selling sexual services and hand them the boldness to seek and get recourse when they are abused or suffer violence.