Together with Embrace Dignity and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, we held a Roundtable Discussion on Prostitution/Sex Work on 21st June. In May 2017, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Michael Masutha, released the SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC) Report on Project 107 – Adult Prostitution. The Report advocated the complete criminalization of prostitution. Public hearings were held in Parliament in March, and from them it was clear that the debate is highly polarised, with some organisations calling for complete decriminalization and legalisation of prostitution. While total criminalization has failed to regulate prostitution in the context of high unemployment and economic and gender inequality, it is questionable whether decriminalization would provide women with the protection they need, as some people argue. Other alternatives include partial criminalization (where the buyer, but not the seller, of sex would be committing an offence); and total criminalisation with diversion (which would keep prostitutes out of the criminal justice system). This Roundtable brought together a high level panel of experts, activists, leaders and policy makers from various sectors to an open and constructive engagement on the SALRC Report. The Roundtable was addressed by Judge Navanethem Pillay, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice; and Ms Samantha Ferrell-Schweppenstedde of Equality Now. Ms Kholi Buthelezi from Sisonke Gender Justice and Ms Mickey Meji from KWANELE were the Respondents.
L-R: Ms Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (Executive Director, Embrace Dignity); Ms Samantha Ferrell-Schweppenstedde; Ms Lois Law (Project Co-ordinator, CPLO); Ms Mickey Meji; Fr Peter-John Pearson (Director, CPLO); Ms Bernadette Muthien (Director, Engender, and co-facilitator); and Ms Kholi Buthelezi
Judge Navanethem Pillay
Mr John Jeffery