Health Department to release sex work plan on Friday

But it is unlikely to include provision to decriminalise the trade

| By
Photo of woman next to poster calling for decriminalisation of sex work
Photo and copyright: Eric Miller

The Department of Health is expected to launch an HIV plan aimed at sex workers on Friday. Titled, The South African National Sex Worker HIV Plan, 2016 – 2019, it will be described by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaeldi. It will address sex worker rights and safety.

The Department of Health says there are many programmes which assist sex workers in South Africa. Spokesperson Joe Maila says government programmes largely focus on health issues and mobile reach.

Maila told GroundUp that the new plan provides for more health services for sex workers and includes the building of new facilities. He said the Department of Health used a “prevalence survey” to gather more information on the challenges sex workers face.

“Details of the expanded programme will be unveiled at the launch,” he said.

The call to decriminalise sex work intensified after several assaults last month, allegedly by clients, left three sex workers dead and another fighting for her life.

In the Eastern Cape, three sex workers were shot. Two died and the third is reportedly in a critical condition. In Nelspruit, a female sex worker was found strangled and stabbed to death.

In a joint press statement, Sonke Gender Justice, Sex Worker Education & Advocacy Taskforce, Women’s Legal Centre and Sisonke National Sex Worker Movement said the release of the South African Law Reform Commission report on ‘Adult Prostitution’ (Project 107) has been delayed for more than 15 years.

The group said the report is supposed to contain government’s recommendations on how the laws on sex work should be reformed to afford more protection to workers in this area.

It said recognising sex worker rights and safety is now more important than ever.

Sex workers face exceptionally high levels of violence and gender based violence. They suffer risk of rape, abuse and murder.

“This is largely due to the on-going criminalisation of sex work, which makes sex workers easy targets of abuse. All aspects of sex work are criminalised in South Africa, and drive sex workers away from social services, health care and police protection.”

The coalition said attention needs to be drawn to sex worker-friendly and non-discriminatory health care, including non-judgemental health-care workers and police officers.

Maila did not respond to questions put to him about Project 107.

TOPICS:  Sex work

Next:  School transport: Why we are going to court

Previous:  Artist finds inspiration in streets of Mitchells Plain

© 2016 GroundUp. Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.