Sex workers in parliament

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24 May

In May, Members of Parliament (MPs) should join other respected local and international groups to push for the decriminalisation of sex work, rights activists told Parliament's joint committee on HIV/Aids. The committee met sex workers to gauge their views on how to prevent the high level of HIV infection.

“The most important thing as MPs is that whatever is done in South Africa (that) doesn't threaten the security of South Africa, prolongs the life of South Africans.

“If everything goes against that, that's where we have to make laws to ensure that doesn't happen,” committee chairman Bevan Goqwana said. He stopped short of supporting a move for decriminalising the profession.

Transgender sex worker Ricardo Saayman told the MPs that, “The stigma and embarrassment we have to go thorough in the health care systems is for no eyes (to see) and no ears to hear.

“Honourable member(s), you are not there when they (health care workers) make you so small and take the last shred of dignity away from you in front of a whole community... from reception to the doctor, there's so much shame and blame put on your name,” Saayman added.

According to the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) 60% of female sex workers in South Africa were HIV positive. It is estimated that 20% of all new HIV infections occurred among sex workers.

Additional resource:

South African Sex Worker Strategy, 2012-2016