Web Toolbar by Wibiya
You are here: Home Advocacy SWEAT Press Releases
SWEAT Press Releases

SWEAT Press Releases (22)

Here, you will find all out latest press releases and associated documents. simply click on a press release to view it and download any associated documents

“Time for change is now, because while deliberations are delayed sex workers continue to be arrested, fined, refused health and legal services, and murdered”, urges the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) Director Sally-Jean Shackleton. SWEAT is a non-governmental human rights-based organisation advocating for the rights of adult consenting sex workers in the country.

This week The Presidency’s office released a media statement containing President Jacob Zuma’s responses to written parliamentary questions. Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Deputy Minister of Health Denise Robinson asked the president when he would be appointing members of the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) that’s tabled to deal with the Sexual Offences Act ‘Adult Prostitution’ Law Reform Project (107).

President Zuma is noted as having answered by listing the names of the newly appointed commissioners and Judge Mandisa Maya as Chairperson for the Commission. Zuma went on to assert that the Commission’s research into the various Projects “continues unabated”.

“There is nothing “unabated” about the Law Reform Commission’s progress on sex work legislation.  It has been more than 13 years since the ‘Adult Prostitution’ Law Reform Project was initiated, and the Commission has not even produced draft legislation or one recommendation on sex work. In fact, the Commission was without Law Commissioners for the whole of 2012, thus setting much-needed law reform on all Projects back more than a year. The reality is that Government is neglecting law reform, and the Law Commission is ignoring the urgent need to validate sex worker human rights”, said Dr Marlise Richter, a public health researcher at the University of Cape Town.

As much as Sisonke – the South African movement of sex workers – and SWEAT are encouraged by President Zuma’s response, “we are still concerned about how much longer sex workers will still have to wait until the SALRC releases its report to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development”, said SWEAT Advocacy Officer Ntokozo Yingwana.

The SALRC initiated legislative reform of South Africa’s legal system’s response to sex work in 2000. An ‘Adult Prostitution’ Discussion Paper was issued to deliberate on the implications of options relating to full criminalisation, regulation, legalisation, and decriminalisation of sex work. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is set to table legislation in this regard before Parliament, although there is no indication when this can be anticipated.

“Every day South Africa dithers on law reform, another sex worker gets exploited, raped or beaten to death”, said Sisonke National Coordinator Kholi Buthelezi. Sisonke is advocating for the recognition of sex work as legitimate work in South Africa. 

On the 10th of October Sisonke and SWEAT accompanied to court Eva Khumalo, the mother of Nokuphila Khumalo (23) who was allegedly beat to death by renowned artist Zwelethu Mthethwa in April. Nokuphila is also alleged to have been a sex worker. The Cape Town Magistrates Court (room 16) denied this mother an opportunity to see her daughter’s alleged murderer on the stand when Mthethwa’s case was heard privately during the lunch break. Mthethwa was then escorted out of the building through the back exit, avoiding sex workers and the murdered woman’s mother in front of the court. 

“I just wanted to ask him what happened. What did my daughter do to him that he did this to her?”, Eva Khumalo told Sisonke on Tuesday. Eva remembers her daughter as a respectful and caring child. 

Under the Sexual Offences Act of 1957 (a remnant of the apartheid-era Immorality Act, amended in 2007 to include sex workers’ clients) all aspects of sex work are criminalised in South Africa. This means that the sex worker, their client and anyone who lives off the earnings of a sex worker are criminalised. Strictly interpreted, this law thus even criminalises the children and extended family of sex workers.

Decriminalisation of adult, consensual sex work would see sex work being regarded as ordinary work, which allows the industry to be governed by existing labour and business laws intended to prevent unsafe, exploitative and unfair business practices. However, abusive practices such as under-age and coerced sex work would remain criminal offences under decriminalisation.

Decriminalisation is a widely supported legal model – the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, UN Women, Human Rights Watch and other international agencies support this legal approach, as do local women’s rights and human rights organisations.

[Listen to Sara Cohen of 567 Cape Talk Radio interview SWEAT Advocacy Officer Ntokozo Yingwana on this ‘SWEAT reasons why sex work should be decriminalised’ Primedia Broadcasting podcast below or follow this link https://soundcloud.com/primediabroadcasting/sweat-reasons-why-sex-should.]

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Attention: News Editors

For immediate release:

16 April 2013

By Ntokozo Yingwana, SWEAT Advocacy Officer

SISONKE SUPPORT KIDNAPPED SEX WORKER

Media headlines last week rang with the story of a Belhar couple accused of kidnapping and holding a sex worker as a sex slave. David Julies (52) allegedly picked up the 19-year-old woman on Kenilworth Main Road and took her to his home for a threesome with his girlfriend. The couple then refused to let the young woman go, subjecting her to twelve hours of horrific sexual abuse, before she managed to escape and seek help from neighbours.

The couple was subsequently arrested and appeared in the Bellville Magistrate's Court yesterday. Julies has prior convictions of rape and possession of marijuana. His girlfriend and co-accused, Melanie Blomerus (38), has no prior convictions. The case has been postponed to the 15th of May for a formal bail application, which State Prosecutor Vuvu Maneli intends to oppose. The Sex Workers' Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and Sisonke -the only national movement of sex workers - demonstrated outside the court, demanding that the Belhar couple be denied bail and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The women were also present in the court room, carrying the Sisonke flag and wearing t-shirts that read, 'This is what a sex worker looks like'.

"When I saw them again in court I thought back to what they had done to me... My heart felt sore. I just want the court to find them guilty", said Nandipha. "Nandipha is a brave woman who wants to see justice. She was not expected in court, but she insisted on coming. So in order to protect her identity we all wore the Sisonke t-shirts", said SWEAT Advocacy Officer, Ntokozo Yingwana. Sisonke had picked up on the media headlines and reached out to the young woman, offering her counselling and court support. "After she met with a SWEAT counsellor, and a Women's Legal Centre paralegal, we took her shopping for personal items such as toiletries. When we offered to return her back where she was staying, she asked us not to. So we organised alternative shelter for her", said Duduzile Dlamini, Sisonke's Mobiliser.

"SWEAT faced great difficulty placing Nandipha in emergency shelter. We have had to place Nandipha in private accommodation. We do experience a lot of discrimination against sex workers when seeking shelter, which is devastating, especially in such serious situations", explained Merle Mills, a social worker and SWEAT's Human Rights Defence Officer. Civil society organisations under the Shukumisa Campaign today presented to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on weak government response to sexual offences. SWEAT endorses this submission. "He said he didn't need a condom because he was 'clean' " Nandipha was picked up by Julies in a white Tazz on the Main Road, in Kenilworth, Thursday night, the 4th of April, and taken to a house in Belhar. This is her story: When he picked me up I didn't know it was for a threesome. But when I got to his house a woman introduced herself to me as his girlfriend, and I agreed to it.

"I first asked for the money, but he said I would get it once I was done doing my job. So I asked for a condom. He refused, said he didn't need a condom because he was 'clean'. That's when I refused to do business with them, and that's when it started", recalls Nandipha. Nandipha was then locked inside a room with only a chair and mattress on the floor, and repeatedly raped. "I tried fighting him off, but couldn't. He yanked off some of my hair braids in the scuffle. He said he wouldn't let me go until he had come. It felt like he was on top of me the whole time. "All along his girlfriend was fondling my breasts, sucking on my nipples and rubbing my vagina, and pleading with me to stay, saying her boyfriend would come soon.

"I kept asking them to let me go, but they wouldn't. I got so hysterical at one point that I started screaming and yanking off my remaining braids. "I managed to escape when I went to the toilet to pee the next day. They had taken the mattress into the other room, and were laying there. When I came out of the toilet I saw that the kitchen door was opened and decided to run. "The neighbours saw me running down the street naked and asked me what had happened. That's when they helped me", Nandipha concludes her ordeal. The neighbours called the police and had the couple arrested. The Belhar community then marched to the police station and signed a petition demanding that they remain in police custody.

If you are sex worker who is being held against his/her will, please contact the SWEAT/Sisonke toll-free Helpline number, 0800 60 60 60 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            0800 60 60 60      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

*Not her real name

 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

ATTENTION: NEWS EDITORS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 


DECRIMINALISE, OR SEX WORKERS WILL CONTINUE TO BE MURDERED


Nokuphila Khumalo is the young woman (23), believed to have been a sex worker, who was allegedly murdered by renowned Cape Town artist Zwelethu Mthethwa. Earlier this week, Die Burger newspaper reported that Mthethwa was caught on CCTV camera, beating and kicking Khumalo to death in Woodstock on the 13th of April.

Since the story broke, Sisonke - the national movement of sex workers -has been trying to find out more information about her through its members. "We want her to be remembered as a person so we can honour her life", said Duduzile Dlamini, the Sisonke Organiser who has been leading the search. "Now that we have a name, and know she is from Gugulethu, we should be able to find someone who knew her", added Dlamini.

According to comparative studies in the United Kingdom, sex workers are 12 - 18% more likely to be murdered than non-sex workers.

Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) Advocacy Manager, Jenna Praschma said, "While SWEAT and Sisonke strongly condemn the brutal murder of Nokuphila Kumalo, we urge the Department of Justice, the South African Law Reform Commission, and the Presidency to recognise that this is just one incident in the ongoing systematic perpetration of violence against sex workers in South Africa. Sex workers will continue to be beaten to death in broad daylight, or raped in police cells, until law makers heed national and international recommendations to uphold human rights and decriminalise sex work".

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) recently launched its Position Paper on Sex Work, which officially calls for the decriminalisation of sex work. Decriminalisation is the only human rights-based model proven to protect the human rights of sex workers.

Performing arts' director, Delia Meyer, commented, "As an artist, I am horrified that a celebrated man such as Mthethwa could do such a thing. For him to brazenly beat up a woman in public shows the extent of where we are as a society regarding violence against women. And it doesn't matter which woman is murdered".

Last week, the New Africa Theatre in Athlone showcased Meyer's 'Desdemoya's Voice', a patchwork of stories, songs and monologues that gave voice to the reality of women living in an essentially patriarchal society, and the gender-based violence that stems from it. One of the characters was informed by a 54 year old sex worker's life story. "It felt good to have my story up on stage. Finally, someone was taking notice of the stigma and abuse we experience as sex workers", *Patricia said.

Mthethwa is currently out on a R100 000 bail. The case has been postponed to the 26th of August. "We will be there in court, calling for justice to be served. Celebrity or not", said Sisonke Lobbyist Nosipho Vidima.

Any sex worker who needs help, or members of the public who witness violence against a sex worker, please call our 24/7 Helpline on 0800 60 60 60 or send a Please-Call-Me to 071 357 7632.

 

Not real name
Press release by Ntokozo Yingwana, SWEAT Advocacy Officer
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone: (021) 448 7875
Cell: 072 389 1354
Fax: (021) 448 7857

 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Attention: News Editors

For immediate release:

DECRIMINALISE SEX WORK- CGE

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) today launched its Position Paper on Sex Work, calling for the decriminalisation of the oldest profession.

"If sex work is decriminalised, we will deliver on our constitutional and human rights promise for all", said CGE Commissioner Janine Hicks.

A CGE press release states that the correct approach is to regard sex work as ordinary work, and allow the industry to be governed by existing labour and business laws intended to prevent unsafe, exploitative and unfair business practices. Abusive practices such as underage and coerced sex work would remain criminal offences under decriminalisation.

The CGE together with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), convened a consultative dialogue on sex work in 2012 to inform the development of the Commission's position on the decriminalisation debate. The Commission subsequently initiated its own investigation and research, culminating in this official stance in support of decriminalisation of sex work.

"We applaud the CGE for listening to sex workers, and taking an evidence-based response. We would now like to see the policy brief implemented", said Sally-Jean Shackleton, Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) director.

Speaking at the launch Snowy Mamba, a transgender female sex worker and Sisonke member said, "This is a good start. Hopefully government will follow, because as Janine mentioned, this is not just about decriminalising sex work, it's about protecting our human rights". Sisonke is the national movement of sex workers in South Africa, advocating for sex workers' rights.

WISH Associates Coordinator, Marion Stevens argues that given the poor sexual and reproductive health status within the country including HIV, with some 59% of sex workers being HIV positive, decriminalisation will enable sex workers increased access to health services they need.

"The CGE's position is a welcomed contribution towards building gender equality in South Africa in that it addresses the key abuse and injustices faced by sex workers under criminalisation", added Stevens.

CGE chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi said its position would now be taken to Parliament, where it would be debated by various committees.

Background:

As a Chapter 9 state institution the CGE's obligation to strengthen constitutional democracy is focused on the protection, promotion and attainment of gender equality.

The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) initiated legislative reform of South Africa's legal system's response to sex work in 2000. A Discussion Paper (107) was issued to deliberate on the implications of options relating to full criminalisation, regulation, legalisation and decriminalisation of sex work. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is set to table legislation in this regard before Parliament, although it is not clear when this can be anticipated.

By Ntokozo Yingwana, SWEAT Advocacy Officer
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone: (021) 448 7875
Fax: (021) 448 7857

 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

SISONKE MARCHES AGAINST POLICE ABUSE

Sisonke, the only national movement of sex workers, will march to police stations in five provinces this week, to protest the continued abuse sex workers experience at the hands of the police, and the criminal justice system's failure to prosecute the perpetrators.

The marches are in commemoration of International Sex Worker Rights Day. This day was first celebrated on the 3rd of March in 2001 when over 25 000 sex workers gathered in India for a sex worker festival. Since then sex worker groups across the world have used the day to call for sex workers' rights to be recognised as human rights.

"Johannesburg is marching today, but Cape Town, Louis Trichardt, Durban and East London will be demonstrating tomorrow on International Women's Day, the 8th of March. This is because the majority of sex workers are women. And it's time that their abuse was recognised as a form of gender-based violence", said the Sex Workers' Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) Advocacy Officer, Ntokozo Yingwana.

SWEAT is a human rights-based non-profit organisation that advocates for the recognition of sex workers' rights as human rights.

See below for more details about Sisonke's national demonstrations this
week, and provincial media contacts:

Region/ City

Date and starting time

From

To

Contact person

Cape Town

Friday, 8th March
12:00

Gathering at SWEAT, 19 Anson Street, Observatory

Woodstock Park on Victoria Road

Kholi Buthelezi
Sisonke National Coordinator
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(021) 448 7875/ 073 2479 623

Constance Mathe
SWEAT Paralegal, and Sisonke Member
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(021) 448 7875/ 078 004 2241

JOHANNESBURG
Thursday, 7th March
11:00

Outside the Workers' Library, on Miriam Makeba Street

Johannesburg Central Police Station

Pamela Chakuvinga
TLAC Paralegal, and Sisonke Johannesburg Coordinator
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
078 240 2651

Louis Trichardt

Friday, 8th March
10:00

Makhado Municipality Park, on Krogh Street
Makhado Police Station

Linda Dumba
Sisonke Limpopo Media Liaison
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
079 162 7731

Durban

Friday, 8th March

Corner of Stanger Street and Victoria Embankment Street
Point Police Station

Mbali (not real name)
Sisonke Durban Coordinator, and Media Liaison
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
073 767 9922

East London
Friday, 8th March
Corner of AVBOB and Trinity Methodist Church on Oxford Street
Fleet Street Police Station

Ayanda Kwinana
Sisonke East London Coordinator, and Media Liaison
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(043) 742 2651/ 071 036 8217

Dolly (not real name)
Sisonke East London Media Liaison
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(043) 742 2651/ 079 862 3330

For more information on these events you can contact either the
provincial contacts above, or:
Sally-Jean Shackleton - SWEAT Director (021) 448 7875/ 082 330 4113
Ntokozo Yingwana - SWEAT Advocacy Officer (021) 448 7875/ 072 389 1354

Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)

Ntokozo Yingwana, Advocacy Officer Cell: 072 389 1354 skype:
ntokozoyingwana
19 Anson Street, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa, 7925
T 021-448 7875 Help Line: 0800 60 60 60 Web: www.sweat.org.za
<www.sweat.org.za>

SMS 'sweat' to 32759 for our contact details, SMS 'tips' to 32759 to
subscribe to our human rights tips

Thursday, 07 March 2013

 

SEX WORKERS MARCH TO CALL AN END TO POLICE ABUSE

In commemoration of International Sex Worker Rights Day, sex workers and human rights activists will once again take to the streets to protest the continued abuse sex workers experience at the hands of the police, and the criminal justice system's failure to prosecute the perpetrators.

"Johannesburg is marching tomorrow, but the other four cities will be demonstrating on International Women's Day, the 8th of March. This is because the majority of sex workers are women. And it's time that their abuse was recognised as a form of gender-based violence", said the Sex Workers' Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) Advocacy Officer, Ntokozo Yingwana.

SWEAT is a human rights-based non-profit organisation that advocates for the recognition of sex workers' rights as human rights.

These marches take place on the same day that the eight Daveyton South African Police Service (SAPS) officers will be appearing in court for the first time after being captured on camera dragging a handcuffed 27 year old taxi driver, Mido Macia, behind a police van for nearly 500 meters. Macia later died in police custody.

"As Sisonke we feel for the Macia family, and call on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to implement the law. We are still looking for the body of a Rustenburg sex worker, only known as Lerato, who was reported to have died in police custody in September last year. It is a shame that sex workers' deaths are barely investigated by the IPID, and hardly mentioned in the news. It is as if our lives do not count", said Sisonke National Coordinator, Kholi Buthelezi.

Sisonke is the only South African movement of sex workers, led by sex workers. The movement is calling for the decriminalisation of sex work.

According to the IPID's 2011/2012 annual report, 720 complaints of deaths at the hands of police were reported. However, in the same period, only 18 officers were convicted on charges related to these deaths.

Approximately 70% of sex workers experienced abuse at the hands of police according to a study by the Women's Legal Centre (WLC), published in August 2012.

"In order to address this human rights crisis, and the human rights violations that sex workers experience, South Africa should decriminalise the selling and buying of sex, and the system should be reformed to bring the treatment of sex workers in line with our constitutional and international obligations to reduce this type of abuse", said WLC lawyer, Stacey-Leigh Manoek.

Zandie (not her real name), a 27 year old street-based sex worker and Sisonke member was raped by a Khayelitsha police officer, in August last year.

"I was working in Parow, and a man in a white Chevrolet stopped next to me. When I saw he was a police officer I tried to run away, but he threatened to call back-up if I did not get into his car. Once inside he asked what my prices were. I refused to tell him, so he said he would just take one of them then. He said if I did not give him my services he would arrest me. He then proceeded to do whatever he wanted with me in the car", recalls Zandie.

After reporting the case to SWEAT and WLC the "police officer started following me and I couldn't sleep at night", added Zandie.

A departmental hearing with the IPID was held, at which Zandie testified. However, a couple of days later the charges were unceremoniously dropped.

"I am not happy that the justice system failed me; they are supposed to protect us and not cause more harm", concluded Zandie.

"As a country, we cannot sustain a situation in which the most vulnerable are preyed upon by those meant to protect them, and that those who abuse women who are sex workers can do so with impunity. As we have seen, this impunity leaves no one safe", said SWEAT Director, Sally-Jean Shackleton.

Demonstrators will be demanding that the SAPS meet with representatives of Sisonke by the end of the month to review how they deal with sex work.

International Sex Worker Rights Day was first celebrated on the 3rd of March in 2001 when over 25 000 sex workers gathered in India for a sex worker festival. Since then sex worker groups across the world have used the day to call for sex workers' rights to be recognised as human rights.

In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations (UN) began celebrating the 8th of March as International Women's Day. The UN has declared this year's theme to be: "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women".

See below for more details about Sisonke's national demonstrations this
week.

Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)
Ntokozo Yingwana, Advocacy Officer Cell: 072 389 1354 skype: ntokozoyingwana
19 Anson Street, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa, 7925
T 021-448 7875 Help Line: 0800 60 60 60 Web: www.sweat.org.za <www.sweat.org.za

Wednesday, 06 March 2013
Court drops prostitution charges

By Dianne Massawe, Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre

Earlier this week (on Tuesday the 9th October 2012) five women appearing at the Germiston Court since March 2011 on charges of prostitution in terms of the Sexual Offences Act were found not guilty.

Sex work in South Africa is currently criminalised under the Sexual Offences Act of 1957 and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amended Act of 2007. The Act has proven to be unenforceable often leading to the abuse of power by police and waste of public resources. In this case, the women were arrested while in their own room, no clients were present and there was no evidence that sex work was taking place. This was one of the reasons that the magistrate stated in the ruling that, “there is a lack of evidence to prove that a sexual offence has occurred”.

Felicia asked, “Why are we being arrested while we are sitting in our rooms doing nothing?” The officer pushed her outside her room and started throwing her against the wall. He explained to the other officers that “this one is asking too many questions. She is a hard knock and does not want to be arrested”.

The effect of the criminalisation is that sex workers are subjected to gross human rights violations at the hands of, not only their clients, but also the police who are obligated to serve and protect them. The police act with impunity when it comes to policing sex work.

With this ruling the magistrate also noted that when the plain-clothed police officers did not have a search warrant.

Once at the police station Felicia was singled out and the same officer said that, “she knows her rights too much”. She was locked up separately in a small open room with no bench or blanket to cover her. Her hands were cuffed behind her back and she spent the night in the cell, sitting upright on a tyre.

The Deputy Minister of Police has pledged her support in addressing these issues earlier this year, but so far training of police officers has only taken place in Cape Town. We urge that all relevant policing bodies are well trained on all Acts, policies and legislation as well as sensitisation reduction. In addition, police misconduct must be monitored, investigated and prosecuted accordingly. The Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, together with the Sisonke Sex Workers movement, will be monitoring and documenting police misconduct in Johannesburg to ensure that sex workers rights are not violated.

The main reason for police misconduct is the criminalisation of sex work. It is for this reason that we urge the Department of Justice to speed up the law reform process and support the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa. Under a decriminalised model for sex work, sex workers will have more safe spaces to work in and also access to legal reform. They will be able to demand their rights and know they do not have to live in fear of police or clients who wish to harm or take advantage of them due to the work they engage in.

Pamela Chakuvinga – Sisonke Paralegal - 011 403 4267 Dianne Massawe – Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre - 011 403 4267 or 082 341 5436 Sally Shackleton – SWEAT – 021 448 7875 or 082 330 4113

Thursday, 11 October 2012

By Jenna Praschma, SWEAT Acting Advocacy Manager

A recent Eyewitness News (EWN) article online, entitled "CT Cops raid 'human trafficking' den," has once again highlighted the misconceptions surrounding sex work and the damage that such inaccurate reporting can cause to related human rights issues.

The raid on a Cape Town brothel last week - the result of a Hawks 'sting' operation - resulted in two arrests, one of whom was reported to be a victim of human trafficking. The woman in question, however, gave no indication to her legal representative that she was trafficked, and is in fact in South Africa on a valid asylum seeker permit.

In addition, if the woman was trafficked, then arrest and detention for four days is no way to rescue someone already in distress.

Stacey-Leigh Manoek of the Women's Legal Centre, who provided legal assistance to the two women, said, “The police officers detained both women in the police cells. If indeed she was trafficked, surely detention should not be regarded as being rescued. This is a clear indication of how the conflation between trafficking and sex work has violated fundamental human rights. It will only result in further victimising of marginalised communities.”

Issues of human trafficking, asylum seekers and other human rights situations are often conflated with sex work. In reality, such issues are only exacerbated by the current legal system in which voluntary adult sex work is criminalised.

It is for this reason that SWEAT calls for the decriminalisation of adult sex work. In a decriminalised system, regulated by laws similar to those governing other professions, brothels would be a safer environment for all involved. Working hours, working conditions, age restrictions, occupational health standards, access to sexual and reproductive health facilities and rights would all be supported by a legal framework and a right to access justice without fear of reprisal or stigma.

Decriminalising sex work would make sex work visible and thus accessible by civil society organisations and state players, safeguarding all involved from the abuses that are occurring currently.

Accurate and sensitive reporting would also go a long way to ensuring that these diverse human rights issues are addressed individually and appropriately.

The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) offers all journalists reporting on sex work a Media Pack covering the legal and social facts surrounding sex work. Please contact 021 448 7875 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

Tuesday, 02 October 2012
Police lined up to face a colleague during a sensitisation exercise that asked them to role-play being  a sex worker and police officer at the point of arrest.

More than 60 police officers took part in a human rights training session with sex workers and advocacy organisations in Cape Town yesterday.

Police officers from Bellville, Parow and Goodwood police stations took part in the three-hour workshop, together with the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), Sisonke - the only national movement of sex workers, Triangle Project, Gender Dynamix and the Womens Legal Centre (WLC).

This training follows a visit by Deputy Minister of Police Makhotso Maggie Sotyu to SWEAT last month where she heard first-hand from sex workers the harassment and abuse they experience in the hands of police.

The objective of this three-hour training was to sensitise police on the vulnerability of transgender people, and to inform members on the legal rights of sex workers. It is the first in a series of trainings working with local police stations where complaints against some of the stations’ officers have been reported by sex workers to SWEAT and WLC. The training was designed to encourage participation and involved much discussion.

In a recent study conducted by the WLC: ‘Stop Harassing Us! Tackle Real Crime! A report on Human Rights Violations By Police Against Sex Workers In South Africa’, 70% of the 308 sex workers interviewed had experienced some form of abuse by police.

Some of the concerns raised by the police officers included drug dealing by pimps, pressure to respond to complaints from residents where sex workers operate, and the frustration of trying to enforce an inapplicable law. The Director of SWEAT, Sally-Jean Shackleton, encouraged members to use the 24-hour toll-free sex worker Help Line (0800 60 60 60) if they felt someone needed assistance.

"The government has left this for so long. It’s just too big for us. It’s like during apartheid. During that time we had to run around arresting everyone without a card [dom pass]. As soon as the government sorts itself out we will then know what to do”, said a female police officer at this training.

Colonel Cloete, an attorney of the Provincial Commissioners Office, reminded the police officers what they can and cannot do when arresting sex workers. “Just treat everyone with dignity, and there will be no problems", Cloete told the police officers.

"Although there are still many issues regarding searching procedures, and gender segregated facilities to protect transgender people from being sexually assaulted by fellow inmates that remain unresolved, we are optimistic about this initiative, and are committed to working with SAPS and other stakeholders to deal with these challenges", said Sibusiso Kheswa of Gender Dynamix.

“In order to address this human rights crisis and the human rights violations that sex workers experience, South Africa should decriminalise the selling and buying of sex and the system should be reformed to bring the treatment of sex workers in line with our constitutional and international obligations to reduce this type of abuse”, said WLC human rights' lawyer Stacey-Leigh Manoek.

Sharon Cox Ludwig of Triangle Project closed the training by urging the police officers to treat every sex worker they come across as a human being. “No matter what your religion is, or what the law says, just remember that this person in front of me is a human being”.

“For us this is a first step towards better relations with the police, and a good opportunity for us to hear what their issues are, and for them to hear what are our concerns. So we can start working together, because at the end the day we are both tasked with protecting human rights”, said Sisonke National Coordinator Kholi Buthelezi.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Deputy Minister of Police, Makhotso Maggie Sotyu

The deputy minister of police says that sex work must be recognized so it can be professionalized and police brutality against sex workers can be eradicated.

Speaking at the National Sex Work Symposium in Johannesburg yesterday (23 August 2012), Deputy Minister of Police, Makhotso "Maggie" Sotyu, said the sex work sector should be 'handled with dignity' - and that the police ministry should play its part.

In a reference to current South African law, which criminalises both sex workers and their clients, the deputy minister asked why it was that the police arrested sex workers, but ignored their clients. 'Is it because she's a woman?' she asked?

Acknowledging the challenges of crime facing the country and the need to deploy scarce police resources effectively, Sotyu said, 'We have more serious challenges than running after sex workers.'

Sotyu said she was moved by the many complaints of police abuse - which included beatings, pepper spray and rape - that she has received from sex workers during recent meetings with the Sex Worker Education Task Force and the sex worker-led movement, Sisonke.

'You can't let a police officer rape any person, let alone a sex worker,' she told the symposium, adding that where police used unnecessary force these incidents should be treated as criminal acts.

'Freedom in 1994 is freedom for all,' she said. 'You can't be harassed by police officers and say you are free.'

Sotyu called on organisations representing sex workers to provide her with documentary evidence of police abuse so that she could follow up with provincial police commissioners as well as police stations 'because that is where the problem is'.

Concluding her presentation, before taking questions from sex workers and other delegates to the symposium, the deputy minister said, 'I promise you, I commit myself, I will support you and your endeavors.'

Friday, 24 August 2012
  • «
  •  Start 
  •  Prev 
  •  1 
  •  2 
  •  Next 
  •  End 
  • »
Page 1 of 2