The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has welcomed the publication of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill of 2022, which seeks to decriminalise sex work.
The Commission said the Bill, which was approved by Cabinet in November for public comment, marks significant progress towards the decriminalization of sex work in South Africa.
Justice and Constitutional Development Minister, Ronald Lamola, announced on Friday, 9 December, that the Amendment Bill has been published and is now open for public comment.
Responding to the publication of the Amendment of the Bill, the CGE said it has always maintained that the criminalisation of sex work goes against the human rights of sex workers.
“It is our resolve that sex work must be dealt with through economic and social interventions, rather than criminal law. The continued criminalisation of sex work exposes traders to various forms of risks and abuses from the public and members of the police service.
“This, despite section 2 of the Constitution calling for the respect and protection of individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender and race, etc.
“Sex workers have reported various abuses by law enforcement officers, including being raped, blackmailed and being denied the right to access healthcare,” the Commission said in a statement.
The Commission emphasized that any regulation of sex work and sex workers in South Africa must follow a human rights approach that will deliver freedom and right of choice of work.
Some of the interventions being put forward include the freedom for sex workers to form unions and challenge unfair labour practices; freedom from discrimination; and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.