Drive to legalize prostitution hits another speed bump

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The drive to legalize prostitution in South Africa encountered another obstacle this week, after parliament’s Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) was forced to reschedule the South African Law Reform Commission’s (SALRC’s) summit on “Adult Prostitution”.

The summit, which is for stakeholders to provide their inputs and responses to the SALRC’s Report 107 on “Adult Prostitution”, will now take place on March 5.

The said summit was supposed to have taken place last year already, however the committee was forced to delay because stakeholders did not feel they had sufficient time to formulate their inputs.

The proposal to decriminalize prostitution has been the subject of discussion within the African National Congress (ANC) since 2009 already, and structures like the ANC Women’s League and the Commission for Gender Equality have all advocated for it.

Decriminalization is now also a policy directive of the ANC and the committee is well aware of it. However, it is also determined to ensure that all stakeholders have sufficient opportunity to lodge their objections.

Committee Chairperson Masefele Story Morutoa said: “We have been inundated with requests for a postponement of the summit due to the short deadline for submissions from organisations.”

“After our initial media statement on the summit was issued, we received huge interest from the public who wished to comment on this matter. In order to make this an open, inclusive and transparent exercise, which are core values of a democratic Parliament, we had to consider these requests and respond positively,” added Morutoa.

However, there is every indication that lawmakers want to achieve this objective sooner rather than later. It is now really a matter of formulating the most suitable framework.

“The Caucus feels it is more relevant to host this engagement in order to enrich the discussions around the best model for decriminalisation. The Department of Justice and Correctional Services will also play a pivotal role in this summit, since it is now tasked with formulating a policy framework and thereafter a Bill in furtherance of the resolution on sex work,” added Morutoa.

The closing date for all interested stakeholders who want to make written submissions is 26 February 2018.

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