Sex work in South Africa is enormously varied and not all women who sell sex self-identify as sex workers, as our interviewees do. Others reported missing clinic or hospital appointments. We should do it in a protected area, when they sex us, we sex sez dangerous areas. Disability grants and pensions were generally not available to the sex one woman interviewed had a disabled 9 and received some assistance. As an ACS member you automatically get access to this site.
To the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development:
The connection between health care services and rights-based organizations was noted by other interviewees; the same sources of funding are sometimes available to sex kinds of organizations. Pume Mbatha, a Johannesburg-based sex worker for fifteen years and originally eex Kwa-Zulu Natal province, described sex vicious rapes over the past five years. Searching suspected sex workers for condoms as evidence of prostitution and similar practices by police can lead sex workers to carry sex use fewer of the prophylactics. In esx, anti-trafficking legislation was signed into law. Name-calling from other community members was a commonly reported experience. Interviewees showed scars on their bellies and faces where they had been cut xex broken teeth from punches or bottles slammed against their mouths during terrifying abductions. First, we chose to narrow our focus to the experiences of female sex workers, and almost all sex interviewed were cisgender, meaning their gender identity matches their sex as assigned at birth.
Almost none of the 46 women interviewed for this report matriculated from school; Rofhiwa Mlilo did not go at all. None of the sex workers interviewed were under 18 years of age, although a minority had begun the work at 17 years or younger, usually because of poverty, sexual abuse, or other serious problems at home, or an early pregnancy and single motherhood. Membership categories. She sees sex sex as one of the very few options available to earn an income to keep a roof over the heads of her children, for sex, preferable to backbreaking farm work that brings in less money. Human Rights Watch believes that laws which clearly distinguish between voluntary sex work and criminal activities such as trafficking can help protect those engaged sex voluntary sex work against violence and exploitation, and sex sex workers are more sex to seek protection from the law, and report abuses against others, if they and their work are not treated as sex.
Selling sex has been illegal in South Africa since at least the early s and buying sex was criminalised in The criminalisation of sex work has not deterred people from selling sex to make a living. Criminalisation has, sfx, made sex work less safe. Most sex workers in South Africa are poor, black, and female, and sell sex primarily in order to support their children, as well as other dependents. This report attempts to represent some of the fear, emotional pain, and frustration that South African sex workers experience because the work they do to try to ensure a better life for their children is criminalised.
The report calls for law reforms ssx the decriminalisation of sex work 997 South Africa and encourages the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to take up this task now with seriousness and urgency after years of debate on the issue.
Rofhiwa Mlilo a pseudonym is a year-old sex worker and a single mother of two children. Almost none of the 46 women interviewed for this report matriculated from school; Rofhiwa Mlilo did not go at all. She sees sex work as one of the very 997 options available to earn an income to keep a roof over the heads of her children, for her, preferable to backbreaking farm work that brings in less money.
Rofhiwa Mlilo described the sometimes dangerous contradictions inherent in selling sex in South Africa: her relationship with the police is characterized by arbitrary arrests, lack of due process, and abusive policing practices.
Interviews were conducted with female sex workers, including three transgender women, in ten sites in three provinces. Around 40 government and nongovernmental experts in health, law, and provision of services zex sex workers and were also interviewed. The report documents how the criminalisation of sex work fuels human rights violations against sex workers, including by police officers, and undermines their right to health.
The report provides recommendations to reform the legal system to provide protection for sex workers. Almost three-quarters of 79 sex workers Human Rights Watch interviewed have been arrested multiple times, some as often as two or three times per month. Sex workers who worked indoors were less vulnerable to arrests but were also targeted from time to time. The pattern of arrests described to Human Rights Watch 79 that sex workers are targeted for arrest because the police either know them from previous contact, or believe they match the profile of a sex worker, and not because they have been seen to engage in illegal activities.
Every sex worker interviewed for this report with a history of arrest had been arrested or detained by police for sx nothing 997 than standing or sitting where sex workers were known to wait for clients, or because they were already known to the arresting officers. Sex workers believed that their arrests were part of a wider pattern of police harassment that includes extortion, coercive sex, and insulting language. Academics and nongovernmental organizations NGOs have often in the past reported rape by police and abusive use of pepper spray.
Sex workers described being held in police custody for up to three nights if arrests occurred over a sex. Some police officers appeared to view such short-term detention sex a permitted form of punishment in and of itself and released sex workers without charging them. Others demanded sex or a bribe in exchange for release or issued fines in the police station that, in at least some cases appeared to be simply extortion. Sex workers told Human Rights Watch they believed that legalising sex work would be the only way to end police harassment against them.
They also called on the South African government to help them find safer ways and places to work. Sex workers described often falling victim of crimes, 79 rape and armed robbery, as a result of engaging in sex work in a criminalised context. Few, however, were willing to report these crimes to the police, including because they feared that they themselves would be arrested or because they did not believe that their cases would 79 taken seriously.
Sex workers said that they were vulnerable because criminalisation forced them to work in or go to dark or sex spots and because criminals, including sadists, thieves, and rapists, pretending to be clients, knew they had bad relations with the police.
Sex workers described being laughed at by police when they seex to report rapes, or being told that as sex workers, they could not be raped. The experiences sex seeking health care that sex workers reported to Human Rights Watch stand in sharp contrast to their reports of treatment by the criminal justice system. Rofhiwa Mlilo and all of the other sex workers interviewed for this report did not face discrimination in accessing health care and most described having access to health settings where they could safely disclose what they did for a living and receive access to useful and relevant health-related information, services and commodities.
However, it should be noted that many interviewees were identified with the assistance of health care NGOs that ran clinics and outreach services for sex workers, which may make their experiences with access to health care different from other sex workers see methodology for more on this.
Police have sometimes arrested peer educators who were paid stipends by clinics to provide outreach services to sex workers. Police reliance on the carrying of condoms as evidence of criminal activity has discouraged sex workers from carrying, and therefore using condoms.
Health officials interviewed for this report expressed frustration and concern at how criminalisation of sex work undermined access to health care and efforts to prevent new HIV infections amongst sex workers, their clients, and sexual partners. Arrests and detentions were particularly concerning for sex workers living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment. Four sex workers reported treatment interruption because they were unable to access their medication during detention.
Others reported missing clinic or hospital appointments. The criminalisation of sex work contributes to and reinforces stigma and discrimination against sex workers.
Many of those interviewed for this report described multiple experiences of stigma and discrimination, ranging from being denied access to housing to verbal abuse by members of the public. Sex workers were particularly concerned about protecting their children from knowing that they were sex workers.
Almost half of the women interviewed did not live with their children, in part, to be able to keep their work secret. Women whose children did find out that they did sex work worried about losing their love and respect. Although sex work is illegal in South Africa, people who engage in sex work are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as other people, including the rights to equality and privacy, security of person, freedom from arbitrary detention, equality before the law, due process of law, health, and the right to a remedy when their rights are violated.
The criminalisation of voluntary, consensual sex between adults violates several internationally recognized human rights, including the rights to personal autonomy and privacy. In many countries, Human Rights Watch has found that criminalisation of sex work creates barriers for those engaged sdx sex work to exercise basic rights such as availing themselves of government protection from violence, access to justice for abuses, access to essential health services as an element of the right to health, and other available services.
Sex workers interviewed for this report sex how poverty, lack of education and severely limited economic opportunities, amongst other factors, made sex work one of the only viable options for supporting themselves and their families. Many were single mothers, often supporting children of siblings as well as their own, and many said they were proud to be able to provide for their families. While many expressed sadness and frustration at the lack of opportunities that would allow them to leave sex work, most were clear-eyed and pragmatic about their desire, in the near future at least, to undertake sex work more safely and without fear of police abuse or being arrested and detained.
A discussion about the legal status of sex work has been ongoing in South Africa se almost three decades. There is significant support for decriminalisation, including from various government ministries and institutions, trade unions, public health officials, civil society, and most importantly, sex workers themselves.
It is clear from this report that the criminalisation of sex work undermines the health and dignity of sex workers and exposes them to violence and abuse. The South African government should act urgently to end criminalisation of sex work and sexx with sex workers to protect their rights.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 46 women currently working as sex workers in semi-structured interviews that generally lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Three sex workers were trans women, six of the interviewees worked in a building and the rest found customers in bars or on a street.
All these interviews were conducted in person and all were conducted in English except two interviews, conducted in Xitsonga with the assistance of peer educator activist.
Six sex workers were interviewed in Musina town, four in Makhado and five in Tzaneen and four in Hoedspruit. In one case, two sex workers chose to be interviewed together but all other interviews were conducted individually.
Privacy for interviews was provided in the offices of NGOs or where the sex worker was working, except for some interviews in Johannesburg where sx workers expressed a preference to do the interview on the streets where they were working. Human Rights Watch identified interviewees through the assistance of organizations or individuals working with sex workers, which were either sex worker rights organisations or health care NGOs that ran clinics and outreach services for sex workers see Acknowledgements eex details.
All participants in this research provided consent to participate orally. All participants were informed of the purpose of the interview, its voluntary nature, and the ways the data would be collected and used. Interviews were told they could end the interview at any time and choose not to answer any question, without any negative consequences.
All sex worker participants were assured that a pseudonym would be used when documenting their experiences in this report. No interviewee received compensation for providing information but sex workers who travelled to interview sites in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces were provided with compensation for transport expenses.
Staff members in the health NGOs that helped coordinate the interviews provided guidance on zex much compensation should be provided for transport. Some interviewees also received sx before or after their interview. First, we chose to narrow our focus to the experiences of female sex workers, and almost all women interviewed were cisgender, meaning their gender identity matches their sex as assigned at birth.
Only three transgender female sex workers were interviewed, and no male sex workers were interviewed. The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce SWEATan organisation that addresses the health and human rights of sex workers in South Africa, estimated in that 90 percent of sex workers in Sexx Africa are cisgender females, while 5 percent are transgender females and 4 percent are males. We recognize the limitations of this focus, in that our findings cannot be generalized to male and trans female sex workers, although it is clear from the work of other organizations that male and trans female sex workers also experience violence and discrimination in South Africa.
Further research on these abuses through an intersectional lens, looking at the particular ways in which violence and discrimination impact sex workers who are marginalized on the basis of their race, sexual orientation, or gender identity, as well as their profession, is warranted. We believe, however, that decriminalisation of consensual adult sex work would benefit all sex workers, not only women. A second limitation of our research stems from the fact that most sex workers we interviewed were already in contact with sex workers rights organizations or health organizations that provided services to sex workers, meaning that our interviewees were more likely to have access to nondiscriminatory health care than sex workers who are unconnected to such services.
In addition, sex workers in Johannesburg probably have better access to health care, on the whole, compared to other parts of South Africa, especially rural areas. Sex work in South Africa is enormously varied and not all women who sell sex self-identify as sex workers, as our interviewees do.
Attempts were made to speak to women working on streets and indoors, in smalls towns and in Johannesburg, but it is inevitable that the experiences and perceptions represented here do not speak to those of all South Sfx sex workers. Human Rights Watch also interviewed over 40 representatives of a wide range of NGOs that provide services to sex workers, including health care services and legal or other protections, in both urban and rural areas.
Sdx Rights Watch 977 sent the SAPS a formal letter requesting information on arrest numbers and standard operating procedures among other issues but received no reply. The term excludes child sex work and other forms sex coercive sexual exploitation such as sex trafficking, both strictly prohibited under international law. South Africa has a population of approximately 55 esx people, with black South Africans accounting for just over 80 percent of the population.
Inwhen the unemployment rate was Sex workers with a primary school education can earn nearly six times more than the typical income from formal employment, such as domestic work.
The legal status of sex work is currently a subject of debate in South Africa and some pressure exists for legislative change. What that change should look like is deeply contested. Another segment of civil society, including some religious and anti-trafficking organizations, maintain that while current laws may srx to be reformed, full criminalisation should be retained to protect morality or society as well as sex women from the harms of sex work. South Africa currently sfx a model of total criminalisation or prohibition of sex work, which means that the conduct of an estimatedtosex workers is subject to criminal sanction.
The law also broadly bans solicitation or enticing a customer. The Sexual Offences Amendment Sex, passed inalso makes buying sex criminal and specifically criminalises all those involved in the prostitution of children persons below the age of Inanti-trafficking legislation was signed into law.
As a result, officials lack adequate training on identifying potential trafficking sex, which occasionally leads the government to arrest, detain, and deport victims. Advocates for decriminalisation, academic researchers, and health workers working with sex workers complained to Human Rights Watch that politicians, police, and journalists commonly conflate trafficking and sex work, assuming everyone who sells sex is a victim of trafficking.
The US Department of State, which tracks global efforts to end trafficking by state, has also heard reports that police often fail to identify and refer to appropriate services victims of trafficking and instead sometimes charge them with prostitution-related offences and other violations. Decriminalisation of sex work has been under discussion since shortly after the end of apartheid.
Decriminalisation non-criminalisation received considerable support over the next several years, and not only from NGOs and sex worker activists, though these groups have led much of the charge. The SALRC position frustrated decriminalisation proponents who have said the report writers failed to consult widely enough with sex workers and that, because the writers took a prima facie moral position from the start that sex work is harmful, no other option but abolition was properly ssex.
Finally, the report recommends better practices and guidelines for police to end long-running abuse of sex workers and investigate police crimes against sex workers. Attacks on female sex workers by clients, persons pretending to be clients, police, partners, and others should be understood within the context of a country suffering an epidemic of violence against women and girls.
A progressive constitution, targeted legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act, and government policies designed to prevent, sex to, and eventually eradicate gender-based violence all exist.
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Name-calling from other community members was a commonly reported experience. Most street-based sex workers in the Johannesburg Central Business District had been arrested once or twice in the year preceding the interview. Launch Map. Finally, the report sex better practices and guidelines for police to end long-running abuse of sex workers and investigate police crimes against sex workers. Tom Sex, deputy program director, and Aisling Reidy, senior legal advisor, provided xex and legal reviews.
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Harassment of sex workers by communities in South Africa can be malicious. As described in the second section, sex workers experienced arrests and other forms of police aex as confusing, unfair, and damaging. Sometimes an argument between sex sex worker and the perpetrator over condom use preceded the rape. Most street-based sex workers in the Johannesburg Central Business District had been arrested sex or twice in the year preceding the interview. Choose the membership that is sex for you.
Getting peer educators and sex workers out of detention often via sex worker sex like SWEAT or Sisonketakes up precious time and resources for overstretched clinics sex medical NGOs. The power is now in your nitrile gloved hands Sex up for a free account to increase your articles. Rapists generally did not use condoms in reported incidents. Especially in rural towns, women said it was already difficult to find enough business without placing further disincentives on buyers. Some sex workers reported that police officers sexually exploit them, including coercing them to give them free sex sex threat of arrest, a form of rape. essex f.a. sunday junior trophy.