News Brief

The South African Government May Decriminalize Sex Work

President Cyril Ramaphosa told a number of organizations that the government is looking into the current laws regulating sex work.

Yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa opened a newly build court and signed a declaration on gender-based violence (GBV) in Johannesburg. There, he announced to a number of women and civil organizations who were in attendance that the government was looking into the decriminalization of sex work in South Africa.


Feminists, activists and civil organizations the likes of reproductive rights activist, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and Sonke Gender Justice have all been working towards having sex work decriminalized.

Over the years, sex workers and their allies have campaigned for laws criminalizing sex work in the Sexual Offences Act to be changed. With South Africa having one of the highest prevalence rates of femicide, rape and GBV, efforts to have sex work seen as work are incredibly important seeing that sex workers are a marginalized group that is vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

READ: The Daily Nightmare of Being a South African Woman Shows No Signs of Ending

According to SowetanLIVE, President Ramaphosa said:

"We will finalize the outstanding legislation such as the prevention and combating [of] hate crime, the hate crime bill and victim support services. We will work with all stakeholders to develop policy around the decriminalization of sex work."

Speaking further on the current legislation as it relates to GBV, President Ramaphosa also added that:

"We commit ourselves in this declaration to commit, to resource, [and to] strengthen the existing gender machinery...Today begins a new era in our determined struggle to rip our society off gender-based violence and femicide."
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