The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) wants to decriminalise prostitution in South Africa.
The league has authored a discussion document on gender in preparation for the party’s December conference in Mangaung.
In the document, the league argues that current laws lead to “total criminalisation of the seller” – women who work as prostitutes.
But it argues that the men who pay for sex are not treated with the same heavy-handedness.
“To decriminalise it, that is where we are going,” said ANCWL treasurer and Higher Education Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
“When the new bill is debated, people must understand it is not about women wanting to expose themselves. It is not about approving the behaviour; it is about how else women can position themselves.”
Mkhize said the league expected resistance so they had planned their approach carefully.
“As we move to the policy conference, we want to put the facts before people and build buy-in that way.”
She said the league hoped to pass a resolution decriminalising sex work at Mangaung.
The South African Law Reform Commission is investigating new prostitution laws.
“The ideal approach for the ANC will be to support a position that will embrace the dignity of women,” the league says in its document.
Asked how the country’s churches were expected to react to the proposed change in legislation, Mkhize referred to abortion legislation that government signed into law in 1996.
“Churches were saying no, but we still passed the law. The problem with churches is that churches prepare people for heaven, but not for life on earth. They are not supposed to condemn, they are supposed to educate.”
Former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge addressed the league’s national executive committee on the issue of sex work while preparing the discussion document.
She is the leader of the Embrace Dignity Campaign, which advocates legislation that decriminalises prostitution to deal with human trafficking.
[This news article was sourced from the City Press: ANC will talk about sex at Mangaung]