Decriminalisation of sex work

The decriminalisation of sex work is essential for sexual and reproductive justice to be realised in South Africa. For as long as sex work is criminalised, sex workers will continue to be confronted by barriers to access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, and remain unprotected from violence.

The decriminalisation of sex work would enable sex workers to operate within a human rights framework, and would entail:

  • the removal of criminal charges against sex workers
  • the operation of brothels and individual sex workers as ordinary businesses
  • the ability to implement laws protecting sex workers from special risks
  • the minimising of discrimination and stigma around sex work, which will in turn enable sex workers to access basic services more easily
  • the potential reduction of abuse, together with increased reporting to the police

In South Africa, we have a long history of activism for the decriminalisation of sex work. Get an update of the advocacy being done in recent years. There are also a number of resources available for sex workers and sex workers allies, produced by SRJC members and partner organisations.

SRJC members and partner organisations working on sex worker rights and the decriminalisation of sex work include: