ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley today in the National Assembly reminded MP's that, the SA Law Commission has been weighing the attitude of South Africans on the issue of decriminalizing prostitution as pressure is being exerted to do so before 2010. Not even two years after Germany was announced as the host nation for the 2006 Fifa Football World Cup final, prostitution was legalized in preparation for the tournament. Now South Africa is in danger of following suit.
The ACDP believes that decriminalizing prostitution has less to do with the human rights of women trapped in slavery and more to do with the multibillion dollar industry that it is globally.
The ACDP supports the view that the entire sex industry must remain criminalized and the relatively new laws in SA, which target the user, including clients, p imps, procurers and traffickers must be enforced.
In addition, a mechanism is needed whereby prostitutes can be diverted into an exit programme to help victims of prostitution to rebuild their lives. Provision for the criminal offence to be expunged on completion of the programme should be an incentive.
Countries which have experimented with decriminalising the practice have found trafficking in women increases to meet the demand created by a legalized sex industry. It also makes it difficult to hold traffickers and pimps accountable as they evade prosecution by using the legality as a cover claiming women knew what they were getting into.
In 1999 as the Netherlands opted for legalisation, Sweden introduced a policy of abolition which focused on the user and on helping women to exit prostitution. Street prostitution was reduced and a barrier was formed against trafficking. Traffickers and pimps experiencing diminished profits naturally relocate to more lucrative markets and now Norway has now opted for the Swedish legal approach and Iceland has also introduced a Bill to criminalise the purchase of sexual acts and to prohibit strip clubs.
Public sentiment in South Africa is clearly opposed to legalising prostitution but the multi-billion dollar industry concerned, is looking for friendly territory to ply their lucrative trade.
An overwhelming body of International evidence shows that the terrible abuse and exploitation of women and children trapped in prostitution does not decline where there is decriminalisation, and in fact the opposite is true.
The ACDP rejects COSATU's confused statements regarding decriminalizing and unionizing prostitution. While they acknowledge the "devastating impact" of prostitution on families and communities they are prepared to further facilitate the abuse".