Those who buy and sell adult sex workers should be partially criminalised, while prostitution should remain criminalised, the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) suggested yesterday.
Joined by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha in Pretoria, the SALRC released its report on the legislative framework of prostitution, which would be open for public discussion.
The SALRC compiled the report following extensive research relating to the circumstances around prostitution and the applicable legislation while considering international laws on the issue.
Currently, the buying and selling of sexual services are criminalised in the country in various sections of the Sexual Offences Act and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.
Researcher in the commission Dellene Clark said the report looked at four international legislative models, which include criminalisation, decriminalisation, regulation and partial criminalisation. Topics included whether sexual services were considered as work, access to healthcare, and arrests of third persons for exploitation.
“When looking at different models, we looked at the country’s specific context. For example, in South Africa there are a high numbers of illegal migrants and lots of gender-based violence and unemployment. We are trying to apply a country-specific recommendation in terms of what we have come up with,” she said.
The report, titled the “Report on Sexual Offences: Adult Prostitution”, suggests that prostitution retain a totally criminalised legal framework, giving those in the “business” the opportunity to divert out of the system and have access to supportive resources and systems.
The report continues to suggest partial criminalisation of adult prostitution for all role-players engaging in the act with the exception of the person providing the service.
Masutha, however, said he was hopeful the report proposal would improve the current system to ease some of the complex issues facing the country such as the socio-economic marginalisation of women and the impact of HIV/Aids.
He said the released report was not draft policy of government on the subject, but a report put forward for public engagement and discussions.
“The commission found that despite mounting public and official concern about prostitution, South Africa has no clear strategy for dealing with prostitution, either on a primary and preventative level or on a secondary and intervention level.”