Count Me In! supports the new bill that fully decriminalises sex work in South Africa

1 February 2023 Full decriminalisation of sex work ensures that the workers have access to health, justice, education, and employment opportunities and can enjoy all fundamental human rights.  In South Africa, the Department of Justice has recently published a draft Amendment Bill that intends to decriminalise sex work fully. The Count Me In! consortium (CMI!) and Sex Work Donor Collaborative (SWDC) fully endorse the initiative. 

Full decriminalisation of sex work, as implemented in New Zealand, enables sex workers to enjoy a safer living and working environment and reduces problems such as trafficking, exploitation, HIV/AIDs transmission, and minors in the sex work industry. Criminalisation, on the other hand, exacerbates all these issues and excludes this group further. 

Partial decriminalisation, that is, criminalising only the demand side of sex work, is even more harmful. It’s called Nordic Model. “A recent study of the model’s operation in France found that moving to an End Demand model had detrimental effects on sex workers’ safety, health and overall living conditions – even compared to the previous model of full criminalisation.   

“In addition to the evidence that End Demand laws make sex workers more vulnerable, there is no evidence that it reduces demand. For this reason, organisations such as the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Human Rights Watch and the World Health Organization oppose the End Demand model, as do we.” – the letter says.  

CMI! and SWDC, therefore, fully support the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, 2022, which intends to repeal all the legislation that currently criminalises the sex work industry in South Africa.

Banner photo: Sex workers’ procession in London. Credit: Vera Rodriguez.

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