This mornings Outreach team to Bamjee, a township that is build around a truck stop / bar,  near Ngodwana. 

Catherine and Catherine, Love this lady so much. From early morning they wash, with one tab for the whole village, all this before going to work. #happytohaveajob#ngodwana #bamjee 

Vegetable grow well in this place ..

Everyone builds their own house … themselves 



Two weeks ago I left for Singapore. When I arrived I got a phone call from my dear friend and colleague Tanya. She told me the gate was stolen… which gate? Which house? … No, the gate, the front gate … the big gate? … yes, the top one …. wow, the big, steel, heavy gate which we try to move just a few days ago and needed all our power to slide it closed? … yes … wow incredible. 

Lucky our amazing staff jumped in to fabricate a temporary gate to keep the totsis out. Thank you Stephan, Syabonga and Johan. 

Dignity is part of CESESA

Decriminalised Prostitution Harms Women!

The “Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation SA” (CESESA) hereby submits arguments in support of the facts that a decriminalised sex industry is the worst possible policy for South Africa. We make this submission in consideration of the dire social realities in the nation and the warnings of policy failures on prostitution internationally.

This statement is also released in response to unsubstantiated claims made by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) that “the decriminalisation of sex work is the only viable approach to protecting and promoting the rights and dignity of sex workers.” These claims were made at a one-sided meeting of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus at Parliament this week where members of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development apparently discussed “the possible decriminalisation of sex work.”

International studies reveal the policy of decriminalised or legalised prostitution failed wherever it was implemented. Instead of protecting the human rights and dignity of women trapped in the sex trade, decriminalised prostitution had the exact opposite effect. The policy of legalisation or decriminalisation is a gift to pimps, brothel owners and crime syndicates – the very people who mercilessly exploit women and children for profit.  A decriminalised sex industry also significantly expands prostitution rather than contain it – luring many more vulnerable women and children into a life of unspeakable sexual exploitation, abuse and misery.

Despite the failures of decriminalised prostitution internationally, Amnesty International released a report supporting this failed policy. “The National Centre On Sexual Exploitation” in Washington DC responded, “Amnesty International has developed a policy document supporting full decriminalization of prostitution. Decriminalization of prostitution is one of the world’s most disastrous approaches to the sex trade because it is a gift to pimps and sex buyers allowing them to carry out their activities as mere “sex business operators” and “customers,” and normalizes the sexual violence and exploitation inherent to prostitution as a form of “work.”  If approved, Amnesty’s support of decriminalized prostitution will undermine the human rights of persons in the sex trade (the majority of whom are females), and give impunity to perpetrators of sexploitation.”

South African society suffers high rates of sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children. Domestic abuse of women and children are also at intolerably high rates. Considering these disturbing facts against the backdrop of soaring rates of unemployment and endemic poverty renders decriminalised prostitution in South Africa illogical, unsustainable and untenable.

CESESA affirms that South African policy should move in the direction of exit programs, rehabilitation, education and reintegration of exploited individuals – this in an effort to uphold the dignity of people as enshrined in the South African Constitution. The implementation of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act should remain the focus of government and civil societies attention.

Likewise, the implementation of policies pertaining to the eradication of gender-based violence must remain a top priority. Although CESESA has not managed to reach consensus on comprehensive policy proposals for Prostitution Law Reform, it does however agree unanimously that a decriminalised sex industry would be disastrous for the nation.

In addition to the facts laid out above, CESESA is convinced that decriminalised or legalised prostitution in South Africa is untenable because its assumed effective implementation depends largely on competent policing. The work of the South African Police Service (SAPS) is currently seriously undermined by high rates of corruption and incompetence. Significantly however, even in nations where law-enforcement is effective, decriminalised or legalised prostitution seriously undermines the abilities of police to monitor, regulate and prosecute incidences of criminality in the sex industry.

Research indicates that when the sex industry is decriminalised or legalised – the links between prostitution and organised crime are not broken. This fact coupled with serious shortcomings of effective and competent law enforcement makes it impossible to implement and regulate a decriminalised sex industry in South Africa.

In fact, as is the case in parts of Australia and New Zealand, a larger and more profitable illegal sex industry operates alongside the legal sex industry with many organised crime figures controlling brothels and street prostitutes in both sectors. In all the cases researched, state authorities lost control of the legal sex industry and failed to regulate it. CESESA urges government to declare prostitution an act of violence against women.


Decriminalizing prostitution?

Now that other countries who decriminalized prostitution years ago, have come back saying that is was a total fiasco and even more criminal activities are going on, South Africa wants to try to make the same mistake.

A little history…

This article was originally published by The Conversation.

South Africa may become the first African country to decriminalize sex work. If it does, it will be one of a handful of countries that have fully decriminalized sex work (including New Zealand and New South Wales in Australia), and the first African country to do so. Currently only Senegal makes some provision for legal sex work and subjects it to regulation.

The issue of decriminalization has become hotly contested, with lobby groups on all sides pressing government for action. While moral conservatives call for the status quo to remain, others describe “prostitution” as non-consensual and advocate for partial decriminalization and exit strategies for women. Lined up against them are calls for full decriminalization based on respect for sex worker rights and public health grounds. The balance at present seems to be weighted towards decriminalization, but major differences remain that reflect wider debates within the global feminist movement on sex work and decriminalization.

Under South Africa’s successive colonial and apartheid regimes, sex work was largely tolerated. It was regulated only for its “public nuisance” aspects.  Stricter legal controls were enacted for purposes of public health (fear of contagion) or to impose racial boundaries on sex and sexuality.

It is little surprise to learn that Apartheid’s Sexual Offences Act of 1957 (the successor to the infamous Immorality Act) not only prohibited sex between all races, but also all aspects of sex work and the creation and management of brothels.

On democracy in 1994, sex work was completely criminalized, with some uncertainty about the status of the client. This was clarified in 2007 when clients were explicitly criminalized by an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act. Many find it troubling that in a democracy committed to gender equality and women’s rights, sex workers remain criminalized and generally unable to exercise their constitutional rights.

Legal reviews

Twenty years ago the future seemed different. In the wake of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1994, South Africa’s Department of Justice agreed to review sexual offences laws. This was with a view to decriminalizing sex work so as to address the vulnerability and rights violations experienced by sex workers. This was referred to the South African Law Reform Commission, where it was overtaken by other projects addressing sexual violence.

The commission concluded its investigation with the submission of a report to the Department of Justice in 2014. This report has not yet been made public. There is, however, some speculation that the commission’s depiction of “prostitution” in its annual report suggests a view of sex work that supports some form of criminalization.

The department’s implicit acceptance in the mid-1990s that the criminalization of sex work violates women’s rights has been taken up by gender rights and sex worker organisations who have consistently argued for legal reform. At the heart of this argument is the idea that women choose to engage in the work of sex work to make a living. The criminalization of this work renders them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and to HIV infection. It also denies them access to much-needed services.

Sex work without interference

Decriminalization would help reduce these multiple rights violations. It would enhance the ability of sex workers to work without interference. It will make it easier for them to seek services and redress. This view is advocated by organizations such as the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and Sonke Gender Justice, as well as the Commission for Gender Equality. Even the African National Congress Women’s League has nailed its colours to this mast.

Opposing these views are radical feminist claims that “prostitution” is never a choice, but rather an instance of exploitation of women. Women’s lack of agency in engaging in sex work should be recognized. Proponents of this view argue that women should be assisted to exit sex work.

This has resulted in the so-called Swedish model, which seeks to eliminate demand for sex work by criminalizing clients, but not sex workers.  Prominent among South African advocates of this position is the lobby group, Embrace Dignity.

Call on parliament to act

Recent events have generated new possibilities of law reform on this contested issue. With no movement on the Law Reform Commission Report, Embrace Dignity turned to parliament to present a petition to its select committee on petitions. At a meeting on March 2, Embrace Dignity called for an “end [to] all forms of oppression against women, prostitutes and sex-trafficking”. It asked that a multi-party committee examine the legal options for sex work, with the explicit purpose of eliminating “the oppression of prostitution”, addressing demand and implementing exit programmes.

This call was partly supported by the Commission for Gender Equality, which agreed with an investigation into forced prostitution and sex trafficking, but argued that the Law Reform Commission has already explored the legal options for sex work and called for its report to be released publicly.

In contrast to Embrace Dignity, the Commission for Gender Equality explicitly calls for the decriminalization of adult sex work as “the only viable option to promote and protect the human rights of sex workers.”

Human rights for all

At about the same time as these opposing views on law reform squared up in South Africa’s parliament, further support for decriminalization emerged with the release of another long-awaited document, the National Sex Worker Sector Plan of the South African National AIDS Council.

The plan was introduced by Deputy President Cyril Ramophosa in March, with a clear statement of the humanity and inalienable rights of people who engage in sex work.

Citing research that found “HIV prevalence rates three to four times higher among female sex workers than in women in the general population of their age group,” he pledged an end to discrimination and violence against sex workers. He called for “sound policies and…progressive laws that promote the human rights of all.” The plan itself identifies the negative effects of criminalization and places law reform squarely on the political agenda.

If history is to be our guide, then public health arguments are powerful motivators for reform. Many hope that the combination of public health and human rights in Ramaphosa’s address will underpin progressive law reform in this area to accelerate the decriminalization of sex work.

Cathi Albertyn is Professor of Law at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.