On the 16th of May, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) launched its Position Paper on Sex Work, calling for the decriminalisation of the oldest profession. "If sex work is decriminalised, we will deliver on our constitutional and human rights promise for all", said CGE Commissioner Janine Hicks.
The Position Paper states that the correct approach is to regard sex work as ordinary work, and allow the industry to be governed by existing labour and business laws intended to prevent unsafe, exploitative and unfair business practices. Abusive practices such as underage and coerced sex work would remain criminal offences under decriminalisation.
The CGE together with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), convened a consultative dialogue on sex work in 2012 to inform the development of the Commission's position on the decriminalisation debate. The Commission subsequently initiated its own investigation and research, culminating in this official stance in support of decriminalisation of sex work.
Speaking at the launch Snowy Mamba, a transgender female sex worker and Sisonke member said, "This is a good start. Hopefully government will follow, because as Janine mentioned, this is not just about decriminalising sex work, it's about protecting our human rights". Sisonke is the national movement of sex workers in South Africa, advocating for sex workers' rights.