A decriminalised sex industry would be the worst possible policy for South Africa, says the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation SA (CESESA) in a statement released ahead of a report on prostitution law reform which the SA Law Reform is expected to release soon.
Responding to “several media articles promoting the alleged benefits of a decriminalised sex industry in South Africa”, CESESA says international studies reveal that legalisation of prostitution has failed wherever it was implemented.
Instead of protecting the human rights and dignity of women trapped in the sex trade, decriminalised prostitution had the exact opposite effect and is a gift to pimps, brothel owners and crime syndicates — the very people who mercilessly exploit women and children for profit, says the statement released on behalf of CESESA, which is a broad alliance of organisations actively working to end the sexual exploitation of men, women and children in South Africa.
A decriminalised sex industry also significantly expands prostitution rather than containing it — luring many more vulnerable women and children into a life of unspeakable sexual exploitation, abuse and misery, says the statement.
Internationally decriminalised prostitution failed
Despite the failures of decriminalised prostitution internationally, respected human rights organisation Amnesty International has released a report supporting this failed policy, the statement notes.
The National Centre On Sexual Exploitation in Washington DC has responded: “Amnesty International has developed a policy document supporting full decriminalisation of prostitution. Decriminalisation of prostitution is one of the world’s most disastrous approaches to the sex trade because it is a gift to pimps and sex buyers allowing them to carry out their activities as mere ‘sex business operators’ and ‘customers’, and normalises the sexual violence and exploitation inherent to prostitution as a form of ‘work’.
“If approved, Amnesty’s support of decriminalised prostitution will undermine the human rights of persons in the sex trade (the majority of whom are females), and give impunity to perpetrators of sexploitation.”
Amnesty’s support for legalising prostitution is also criticised in a Huffington Post article entitled, The Framing of Gender Apartheid
South African situation
South African society suffers high rates of sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children, says CESESA. Domestic abuse of women and children are also at intolerably high rates. Considering these disturbing facts — against the backdrop of soaring rates of unemployment and endemic poverty — renders decriminalised prostitution in South Africa illogical, unsustainable and untenable.
Member organisations of CESESA are Crossroads Trauma and Community Centre, Doctors For Life (DFL), Embrace Dignity, EPIC Foundation, Family Policy Institute (FPI), Hope For Women, Jesus4Real, Ladies Arise, National Freedom Network (NFN), PACT (People Against Child Trafficking), Red Light, Robert Octavia Ephraim Foundation, S-Cape, Straatwerk, Save SA, STOP (Stop Trafficking Of People), Tshwane Leadership Foundation, Touch Of Hope, ThyREST (Ekuphumleni Restoration Home), Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre (UCEC), Women Arise Foundation, and Victory Outreach.