By Samantha Rina, Monday, June 06, 2011, Fiji Times online
CRIMINALISING sex work is a waste of time and money, says an advocate for sex workers rights.
Survival Advocacy Network project co-ordinator Rani Ravudi made the comment at a dialogue with stakeholders to mark International Sex Workers Day last Friday. She said sex work was the oldest profession globally and was not going to stop or disappear regardless of laws passed to make it illegal.
"Therefore it is a waste of police and court time and money making it a crime. By making sex work illegal, the State is creating an environment where sex workers are beaten, verbally abused, and sexually abused with no support or help," she said.
Ms Ravudi said women, children or young people forced into prostitution by family or friends had no avenue to seek help because of the law.
"So the best thing a country can do is to assist sex workers to take control of their lives, work in a safe environment, prevent underage sex workers and the spread of HIV by decriminalising sex work or at least stop police and community abuse of sex workers now," she said.
More than 70 people attended the dialogue including former High Court judge Nazhat Shameem, Legal Aid Director Sunil Sharma, a police representative and a senior officer from the Attorney-General's office. The dialogue was organised for discussions on the impact of the law, legal aid services, sex workers right while been detained, Police policies regarding sex workers and the issue of sex workers health and violence.
The dialogue was closed to the media for the protection of the identities of sex workers who attended