Michael Masutha is the Justice and Correctional Services Minister.
PARLIAMENT – Two policy proposals are on the table regarding adult prostitution – keeping the practice totally criminalised or partially criminalising the world’s oldest profession, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday as he announced a long-awaited report by the South African Law Reform Commission was out for public comment.
In a media statement, Masutha said the report followed extensive research on the circumstances around prostitution and the laws governing the practice. The report reviews the laws currently regulating adult prostitution.
“The statutory provisions under review are contained in the Sexual Offences Act 23 of 1957 and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (the Sexual Offences Amendment Act) which criminalises the selling and buying of sexual services and related acts,” he said.
The Minister said the government would wait to make its policy position clear after the public has commented on the report, which proposes two choices.
“The first option which is the Commission’s preferred option is to retain a totally criminalised legal framework. This option is coupled with an opportunity for people in prostitution to divert out of the criminal justice system so that they can access supportive resources and systems in order to exit prostitution if they should choose to do so,” he said.
“The second option favours the partial criminalisation of adult prostitution. This option criminalises all role-players engaged in prostitution with the exception of the person providing the sexual service.”
Earlier this month during a parliamentary question-and-answer session deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who also chairs the South African National Aids Council, expressed concern said there was no uniform approach from different government departments and agencies to deal with adult prostitution.
“When it comes to decriminalisation, it’s quite bizarre because sex workers themselves say it’s quite contradictory because on the one hand government hands out condoms…and as soon as they have them and these are tools of their trade, the police are waiting for them around the corner. They arrest them and confiscate the tools of their trade….”