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FOR SA expresses concern over the implications of prostitution law reform

Goodhope Dlangamandla |  goodhope@radioislam.co.za
January 25, 2023, | 14:00 PM CAT
2 min read

Photo Credit: FORSA

Concerns have been expressed regarding the draft Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses and Related Matters) Amendment Bill in South Africa by proponents of religious freedom, FOR SA. The bill was published on December 9, 2022. The “Prostitution Bill,” as it is more often known, aims to decriminalise the purchasing and selling of sex.

In a statement, the legal advocacy group stated that it would not be participating in changing the prostitution laws in South Africa or expressing an opinion on the matter.

The group asserted that even though they must respect the mandate’s restrictions, they are fully aware that many people in religious communities are likely to have strong opinions about prostitution (and how the law should respond to it).

Therefore, FOR SA has emphasised several factors that religious community representatives may find pertinent.

“One of the ways we try to serve the faith community is to assist them in engaging with the public participation process. We, therefore, thought it would be helpful to highlight several considerations that members of the religious sector may find relevant and to comment on this bill, particularly because the time to do so is very short, and this process closes on January 31, 2023.”

According to the group, should the bill be adopted in its current form, the selling and buying of sexual services by adults (i.e., persons older than 18) will become legal activities?

Additionally, it declared that associated practices, including seeking and promoting sexual services, running a pimp or brothel, and living off the proceeds of prostitution, would also be lawful.

It also added that the criminal records of persons involved in prostitution, as far as their convictions concern prostitution and its related activities, would be expunged and withdraw all pending prostitution cases.

The government’s pledge to reduce gender-based violence is directly contradicted by this planned bill to decriminalise prostitution, which is a rather weird about-face, according to a statement released Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

It continued, “The reality is that most people who engage in prostitution are socio-economically disadvantaged women, suggesting that the prostitution industry sexually abuses vulnerable women.”

“It is utterly impossible for the government to suggest legalising prostitution (or any other kind of sexual exploitation) and yet be committed to ending GBV because prostitution is such a horrible form of GBV.”

As a result, the group has urged the religious community to actively participate in changing the prostitution laws. Part and parcel of freely expressing and enjoying fundamental rights to religious freedom include constructively bringing up religious views and concerns in public on issues of public relevance.

The public has until January 31, 2023, to submit comments on the draft Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, which will see the buying and selling of sex decriminalised in South Africa. The driving force behind the bill is a commitment to protecting sex workers and combating gender-based violence.





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