Law reform in South Africa
A recent article on Health24.com deals with decriminalising sex work in South Africa and how it relates to public health.
Some of the arguments contained in the article relate to a policy brief ‘Sex work, HIV/AIDS and the socio-legal context in South Africa’, prepared by Marlise Richter, commissioned by the Reproductive Health & HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand in October 2008.
The article states:
A recent study conducted in Cape Town found approximately 1 500 sex workers, according to Jankelowitz. “In the 1990’s it was estimated that there were 10 000 sex workers in Johannesburg, but it is unclear where this estimation comes from.”
The lack of reliable figures seems to be typical of a wider lack of engagement with the issue of sex work among policy-makers and researchers. Apart from some non-government organisations and research units there is still very little being done – both in terms of research and health interventions tailored to the needs of sex workers.
The issue of the decriminalisation of sex work for the 2010 Fifa World Cup has grabbed the headlines, not always for positive reasons. Some have argued that it would lead to an increase in human trafficking. These fears were also expressed in the lead up to the World Cup in Germany although there is research from the International Organisation for Migration commissioned by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to show that this was not the case.
It appears policy reforms towards decriminalisation in South Africa have stalled due to bureaucratic red-tape.