Justice Dept set for further consultations in efforts to decriminalise sex work

The department held closed meetings on Wednesday to explore the subject after the South African Law Reform Commission released its report on adult prostitution in 2017.

FILE: Members of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) demand decriminalisation of sex work. Picture: Sweat

JOHANNESBURG - The Justice Department is hoping that its consultations with organisations and representatives that advocate for the decriminalisation of consensual adult sex work will start the process to legitimise the industry.

A commission released its report on adult prostitution in 2017.

Currently, the buying and selling of sexual services is criminalised in South Africa, while those in the sector still have very little protection and few means of support.

Organisations said that getting rid of penalties that criminalised sex work would keep workers safe from violence and discrimination and hopefully guarantee them full human rights as workers in South Africa.

Deputy Minister in the Justice Department John Jeffery is expected to have several more meetings with different sectors of society, including religious organisations and traditional leaders.

The pandemic revealed some of the flaws in criminalising sex work after the sector was unable to work under the lockdown, with workers receiving no government support because they were not recognised as legitimate contributors to the economy.