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Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to start consultative meetings regarding the possible Decriminalisation of Sex Work

08 February 2022

The South African Law Reform Commission released its Report on Adult Prostitution in 2017. Cabinet, at the time, decided not to make a policy choice at that stage and felt that the issue of the possible decriminalisation of sex work should be further debated.

Currently the selling and buying of sexual services are criminalised in our country. The criminalising provisions are contained in two separate laws, namely the Sexual Offences Act, 1957 and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007.  There are also various municipal by-laws which directly or indirectly apply to remove or prosecute sex workers.

Many institutions, such as for example the Commission for Gender Equality and the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) have expressed their views in favour of the decriminalization of sex work.

There are various different policy options. In order to take the debate on the possible decriminalization of adult sex work forward, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery, is starting a series of consultative meetings with various stakeholders and interest groups. 

The Deputy Minister will be meeting with representatives of the pro-decriminalization sex work sector tomorrow in a closed meeting. Thereafter the Deputy Minister will have a series of similar meetings with other stakeholders who are in favour of the so-called Nordic Model. The Deputy Minister will also meet with religious organisations and Traditional Leaders. The dates of these meetings have not yet been confirmed.

“It is important that we fully engage with stakeholders regarding the proposed policy options, as there are many divergent views. We need to further engage with relevant government departments to ascertain the implications of changing the legislative framework and we also engage the public on their views.

The issue of decriminalization may be a contested one, but is also one that needs to be debated and a decision taken, as the issue has been one which has been delayed for far too long,” said Deputy Minister Jeffery. The South African Law Reform Commission Report on Adult Prostitution can be read here: https://www.justice.gov.za/salrc/reports/r-pr107-SXO-AdultProstitution-2017.pdf .

Issued by the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services

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