25 January 2023

For the attention of:                                        

Mr. Tsietsi Sebelemetja

Department of Justice

RE: Comments on Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, 2022

  • We refer to the invitation for written submissions on the proposed Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, 2022, hereinafter “the Bill”.
  • Umphakathi Okhathazekile (CYPSA) is a national non-profit and public benefit organisation, focused primarily on youth upliftment and work amongst grassroots communities nationally. We have to date motivated over one million learners nationwide via our awareness campaigns, in addition to many other activities conducted on a national scale.
  • As an organisation representing South African youth and grassroots communities in all nine provinces, we have grave concerns and a great apprehension, about this Bill and the effects that the adoption of the Bill is likely to have on South Africa’s youth, our communities, and the vulnerable members of South African society, primarily women and children.
  • While proponents of legalization argue that it could provide greater safety and protection for “sex workers”, there are also many valid concerns about the harmful effects that legal prostitution could have on our country, its citizens, and particularly on women and children of low income households who can potentially be forced into prostitution against their will by family members seeking an income, should prostitution be decriminalized.
  • Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution. The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW) has conducted two major studies on sex trafficking and prostitution, interviewing almost 200 victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In these studies, women in prostitution indicated that prostitution establishments did little to protect them, regardless of whether they were in legal or illegal establishments. “The only time they protect anyone is to protect the customers.”
  • In a CATW 5-country study that interviewed 146 victims of international trafficking and local prostitution, 80% of all women interviewed suffered physical violence from pimps and buyers and endured similar and multiple health effects from the violence and sexual exploitation (Raymond et al: 2002).
  • The violence that women were subjected to was an intrinsic part of the prostitution and sexual exploitation. Pimps used violence for many different reasons and purposes. Violence was used to initiate some women into prostitution and to break them down so that they would submit to performing sexual acts. After initiation, at every step of the way, violence was used for the sexual gratification of the pimps, as a form of punishment, to threaten and intimidate women, to exert the pimp’s dominance, to exact compliance, to punish women for alleged “violations,” to humiliate women, and to isolate and confine women.
  • Of the women who did report that sex establishments gave some protection, they qualified it by pointing out that no “protector” was ever in the room with them, where anything could occur. One woman who was in out-call prostitution stated: “The driver functioned as a bodyguard. You’re supposed to call when you get in, to ascertain that everything was okay. But they are not standing outside the door while you’re in there, so anything could happen.”
  • CATW’s studies found that even surveillance cameras in prostitution establishments are used to protect the establishment. Protection of the women from abuse is of secondary or no importance.
  • Legal prostitution normalizes the exploitation and objectification of women’s bodies. It treats women as commodities to be bought and sold, rather than recognizing their inherent dignity and worth as human beings. This can have serious psychological consequences for the women involved, leading to feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, and trauma resulting in drug abuse and suicide.
  • International studies reveal that the policy of legalized prostitution has failed wherever it has been implemented. Instead of protecting the human rights and dignity of women trapped in the sex trade, legalized prostitution had the exact opposite effect.
  • Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution does not control the sex industry. It expands it. Contrary to claims that legalization and decriminalization would regulate the expansion of the sex industry and bring it under control, the sex industry now accounts for 5 percent of the Netherlands economy (Daley, 2001: 4). Over the last decade, as pimping became legalized and then brothels decriminalized in the Netherlands in 2000, the sex industry expanded 25 percent (Daley, 2001: 4). At any hour of the day, women of all ages and races, dressed in hardly anything, are put on display in the notorious windows of Dutch brothels and sex clubs and offered for sale — for male consumption. Most of them are women from other countries (Daley, 2001: 4) who have likely been trafficked into the Netherlands.
  • There are now officially recognized associations of sex businesses and prostitution “customers” in the Netherlands that consult and collaborate with the government to further their interests and promote prostitution. These include the “Association of Operators of Relaxation Businesses,” the “Cooperating Consultation of Operators of Window Prostitution,” and the “Man/Woman and Prostitution Foundation,” a group of men who regularly use women in prostitution, and whose specific aims include “to make prostitution and the use of services of prostitutes more accepted and openly discussible,” and “to protect the interests of clients” (NRM Bureau, 2002:115-16).
  • Faced with a dearth of women who want to “work” in the legal sex sector, the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking stated that in the future, a proposed “solution” may be to “offer [to the market] prostitutes from non-EU/EEA countries, who voluntarily choose to work in prostitution…” They could be given “legal and controlled access to the Dutch market” (NRM Bureau, 2002: 140). As prostitution has been transformed into “sex work,” and pimps into entrepreneurs, so too this potential “solution” transforms trafficking into voluntary migration for “sex work.” The Netherlands is looking to the future, targeting poor women of colour for the international sex trade to remedy the inadequacies of the free market of “sexual services.” In the process, it goes further in legitimizing prostitution as an “option for the poor.”[1]
  • Legalization of prostitution in the State of Victoria (Australia) has led to massive expansion of the sex industry. Whereas there were 40 legal brothels in Victoria in 1989, in 1999 there were 94, along with 84 escort services. Other forms of sexual exploitation have all developed in much more profitable ways than before (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).
  • Prostitution has become an accepted side-line of the tourism industry in Victoria (Australia) with government-sponsored casinos authorizing the redeeming of casino chips and wheel of fortune bonuses at local brothels (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001). The commodification of women has vastly intensified and is much more visible. Decriminalizing prostitution will render South Africa a sex tourism destination for foreigners like countries such as Thailand.
  • The number of Brothels in Switzerland doubled within several years after partial legalization of prostitution. Most of these brothels go untaxed, and many are illegal. In 1999, the Zurich newspaper, Blick, claimed that Switzerland had the highest brothel density of any country in Europe, with residents feeling overrun with prostitution venues, as well as experiencing constant encroachment into areas not zoned for prostitution activities (South China Morning Post: 1999).
  • Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution. Legalization is supposed to get prostituted women off the street. Many women don’t want to register and undergo health checks, as required by law in certain countries legalizing prostitution, so legalization often drives them into street prostitution. And many women choose street prostitution because they want to avoid being controlled and exploited by pimps who are the new sex “businessmen.”
  • In the Netherlands, women in prostitution point out that legalization or decriminalization of the sex industry cannot erase the stigma of prostitution but, instead, makes women more vulnerable to abuse because they must register and lose anonymity. Thus, most women in prostitution still choose to operate illegally and underground. Members of Parliament who originally supported the legalization of brothels on the grounds that this would liberate women are now seeing that legalization reinforces the oppression of women (Daley, 2001: A1).
  • The argument that legalization was supposed to take the criminal elements out of sex businesses by strict regulation of the industry has failed. The real growth in prostitution in Australia since legalization took effect has been in the illegal sector. Since the onset of legalization in Victoria, brothels have tripled in number and expanded in size – the vast majority having no licenses but advertising and operating with impunity (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).
  • In New South Wales (Australia), brothels were decriminalized in 1995. In 1999, the numbers of brothels in Sydney (Australia) had increased exponentially to 400-500. The vast majority have no license to operate. To end endemic police corruption, control of illegal prostitution was taken out of the hands of the police and placed in the hands of local councils and planning regulators. The council has neither the money nor the personnel to put investigators into brothels to flush out and prosecute illegal operators.[2]
  • Legalization also does not necessarily guarantee better working conditions for sex workers. Many women and children who are forced into the sex trade do so out of desperation, poverty, or coercion. Legalization may simply provide a veneer of respectability for this exploitation, rather than addressing the root causes of why these women are driven to sell their bodies in the first place.
  • Legal adult prostitution increases child prostitution. This is particularly relevant in the South African context where many children live in poverty or child-headed homes where engaging in prostitution may be seen as a means of survival. An argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that it would help end child prostitution. However, child prostitution in the Netherlands increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimated that the number has gone from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. The group estimates that at least 5,000 of the children in prostitution are from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls (Tiggeloven: 2001). Child prostitution has dramatically risen in Victoria compared to other Australian states where prostitution has not been legalized. Of all the states and territories in Australia, the highest number of reported incidences of child prostitution came from Victoria. In a 1998 study undertaken by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) who conducted research for the Australian National Inquiry on Child Prostitution, there was increased evidence of organized commercial exploitation of children.
  • Research indicates the links between prostitution and organized crime are never broken regardless of the legal status of the sex industry.
  • Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers, and the sex industry. What does legalization of prostitution or decriminalization of the sex industry mean? In the Netherlands, legalization amounts to sanctioning all aspects of the sex industry: the women themselves, the so-called “clients,” and the pimps who, under the regime of legalization, are transformed into third party businessmen and legitimate sexual entrepreneurs.[3]
  • Legalization or decriminalization of the sex industry also converts brothels, sex clubs, massage parlours and other sites of prostitution activities into legitimate venues where commercial sexual acts are allowed to flourish legally with few restraints.
  • Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution. It boosts the motivation of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more permissible range of socially acceptable settings. With the advent of legalization in countries that have decriminalized the sex industry, many men who would not risk buying women for sex now see prostitution as acceptable. When the legal barriers disappear, so too do the social and ethical barriers to treating women as sexual commodities. Legalization of prostitution sends the message to new generations of men and boys that women are sexual commodities, and that prostitution is harmless fun.
  • As men have an excess of “sexual services” that are offered to them, women must compete to provide services by engaging in extreme or unsafe sexual acts demanded by clients. Once prostitution is legalized, all holds are barred. In certain countries specialty brothels are even provided for disabled men, and State-employed caretakers, who are mostly women, must take these men to the brothels if they wish to go (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).
  • Advertisements line the highways of Victoria (Australia) offering women as objects for sexual use and teaching new generations of men and boys to treat women as subordinates. Businessmen are encouraged to hold their corporate meetings in these clubs. In a South African context this form of prolific advertising of sexual services will only serve to further fuel already rampant sexual offenses, including rape, and other forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
  • A Melbourne (Australia) brothel owner stated that the client base was “well educated professional men, who visit during the day and then go home to their families.” Women who desire more egalitarian relationships with men find that often the men in their lives are visiting the brothels and sex clubs. They have the choice to accept that their male partners are buying women in commercial sexual transactions, avoid recognizing what their partners are doing, or leave the relationship (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).
  • Sweden’s Violence Against Women, Government Bill 1997/98:55 prohibited and penalized the purchase of “sexual services.” It was an innovative approach that targeted the demand for prostitution. Sweden believed that “By prohibiting the purchase of sexual services, prostitution and its damaging effects can be counteracted more effectively than hitherto.” Importantly, this law clearly stated that “Prostitution is not a desirable social phenomenon” and is “an obstacle to the ongoing development towards equality between women and men.”
  • Ordinary people believe that, in calling for legalization or decriminalization of prostitution, they are dignifying and professionalizing the women in prostitution. But dignifying prostitution as work doesn’t dignify the women, it simply dignifies the sex industry. People often don’t realize that decriminalization, for example, means decriminalization of the whole sex industry not just the women. And they haven’t thought through the consequences of legalizing pimps as legitimate sex entrepreneurs or third-party businessmen, or the fact that men who buy women for sexual activity are now accepted as legitimate consumers of sex.
  • Legal prostitution can lead to an increase in human trafficking, as it creates a demand for a constant supply of new and young women to enter the sex trade. This can result in women and children being brought into a country specifically for the purpose of prostitution, often through means of deception or coercion.
  • Legalized or decriminalized prostitution industries are one of the root causes of sex trafficking. One argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that legalization would help end the exploitation of desperate immigrant women trafficked for prostitution. A report done for the governmental Budapest Group stated that 80% of women in the brothels in the Netherlands are trafficked from other countries (Budapest Group, 1999: 11). As early as 1994, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) stated that in the Netherlands alone, “nearly 70 per cent of trafficked women were from CEEC Central and Eastern European Countries]” (IOM, 1995: 4).
  • The government of the Netherlands has in the past promoted itself as the champion of anti-trafficking policies and programs, yet cynically has removed every legal impediment to pimping, procurement and brothels. In the year 2000, the Dutch Ministry of Justice argued for a legal quota of foreign “sex workers,” because the Dutch prostitution market demands a variety of “bodies” (Dutting, 2001:16).
  • In the year 2000, the Dutch government sought and received a judgment from the European Court recognizing prostitution as an economic activity, thus enabling women from the EU and former Soviet bloc countries to obtain working permits as “sex workers” in the Dutch sex industry if they could prove that they were self-employed. NGOs in the Netherlands stated that traffickers were taking advantage of this ruling to bring foreign women into the Dutch prostitution industry by masking the fact that women had been trafficked, and by coaching the women on how to prove that they were self-employed “migrant sex workers.”
  • In the one year after the lifting of the ban on brothels in the Netherlands, NGOs reported that there had been an increase of victims of trafficking or, at best, that the number of victims from other countries had remained the same (Bureau NRM, 2002: 75). Forty-three municipalities in the Netherlands wanted to follow a no-brothel policy, but the Minister of Justice indicated that the complete banning of prostitution within any municipality could conflict with “the right to free choice of work” (Bureau NRM: 2002) as guaranteed in the federal Grondwet or Constitution.
  • In January 2002, prostitution in Germany was fully established as a legitimate job after years of being legalized in so-called tolerance zones. Promotion of prostitution, pimping and brothels are now legal in Germany. As early as 1993, after the first steps towards legalization had been taken, it was recognized (even by pro-prostitution advocates) that 75 per cent of the women in Germany’s prostitution industry were foreigners from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, and other countries in South America (Altink, 1993: 33). After the fall of the Berlin wall, brothel owners reported that 9 out of every 10 women in the German sex industry were from eastern Europe (Altink, 1993: 43) and other former Soviet countries.
  • The sheer volume of foreign women who are in the prostitution industry in Germany – by some NGO estimates now up to 85 per cent – casts further doubt on the fact that these numbers of women could have entered Germany without facilitation. As in the Netherlands, NGOs report that most of the foreign women have been trafficked into the country since it is almost impossible for poor women to facilitate their own migration, underwrite the costs of travel and travel documents, and set themselves up in “business” without outside help.
  • The link between legalization of prostitution and trafficking in Australia was recognized in the U.S. State Department’s 1999 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour. In the country report on Australia, it was noted that in the State of Victoria which legalized prostitution in the 1980s, “Trafficking in East Asian women for the sex trade is a growing problem” in Australia…lax laws – including legalized prostitution in parts of the country – make [anti-trafficking] enforcement difficult at the working level.”
  • Legalization can also contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS, as it may lead to an increase in the number of people engaging in casual sexual encounters. This is especially concerning given that sex workers are often not provided with proper protection or education about safe sex practices, even within a decriminalized environment.
  • Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution does not promote women’s health. A legalized system of prostitution that mandates health checks and certification only for women and not for clients is blatantly discriminatory to women. “Women only” health checks make no public health sense because monitoring prostituted women does not protect them from HIV/AIDS or STDs, since male “clients” can and do originally transmit disease to the women.
  • It is argued that legalized brothels or other “controlled” prostitution establishments “protect” women through enforceable condom policies. In one of CATW’s studies, U.S. women in prostitution interviewed reported the following: 47% stated that men expected sex without a condom; 73% reported that men offered to pay more for sex without a condom; 45% of women said they were abused if they insisted that men use condoms. Some women said that certain establishments may have rules that men wear condoms but, men still try to have sex without them. One woman stated: “It’s ‘regulation’ to wear a condom at the sauna, but negotiable between parties on the side. (Raymond and Hughes: 2001).”
  • The enforcement of condom policy is left to the individual women in prostitution, and the offer of extra money is an insistent pressure. Many factors militate against condom use: the need of women to make money; older women’s decline in attractiveness to men; competition from places that do not require condoms; pimp pressure on women to have sex with no condom for more money; money needed for a drug habit or to pay off the pimp; and the general lack of control that prostituted women have over their bodies in prostitution venues.
  • So called “safety policies” in brothels did not protect women from harm. Even where brothels supposedly monitored the “customers” and utilized “bouncers,” women stated that they were injured by buyers and, at times, by brothel owners and their friends. Even when someone intervened to control buyers’ abuse, women lived in a climate of fear. Although 60 percent of women reported that buyers had sometimes been prevented from abusing them, half of those women answered that, nonetheless, they thought that they might be killed by one of their “customers” (Raymond et al: 2002).
  • Legalization can also have negative impacts on the broader community. It can increase the presence of organized crime and drug abuse, as the sex trade is often controlled by criminal networks that also engage in other illegal activities. It can also lead to an increase in public disorder and crime in areas where prostitution is concentrated, such as street prostitution or brothels.
  • The presence of legal prostitution can have a detrimental effect on the overall moral fabric of a society. It can lead to a desensitization towards the exploitation and abuse of women and can send the message that it is acceptable to view women, and even children, as sexual objects.
  • Systems of prostitution exploit vulnerability and many people in systems of prostitution suffer from vulnerabilities and marginalization. Common adverse experiences that are pathways to prostitution include childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, and poverty. Other factors associated with prostitution involvement include a history of foster care, not having a high school degree, being a racial minority, an immigrant an indigenous minority, or LGBT person, as well as “entry” into prostitution as a child (i.e., sex trafficking). Systems of prostitution prey on and exploit these vulnerabilities.
  • Full decriminalization of prostitution does not make prostitution safe. Prostitution creates trauma that cannot be regulated or decriminalized away. Prostitution is inherently harmful. Prostitution results in a wide range of devastating physical harms and/or psychological trauma to those sold in it—even when it’s legal or fully decriminalized, occurs indoors or outdoors, online, or off.
  • Fully decriminalizing the sex trade creates on-ramps to more sexual exploitation; it removes laws targeting sex buyers who are overwhelmingly men. Removing these laws normalizes male demand for paid sex. Thus, men who were deterred from buying sex by possible criminal penalties are no longer inhibited. As more men buy sex, more people are pulled into and exploited in prostitution. This approach benefits men who want to buy sexual access to people’s bodies, affirms male sexual entitlement and perpetuates Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
  • Interpol has dubbed South Africa the rape capital of the world with approximately 115 rapes being perpetrated daily in the country. One of every three South African children have experienced some form of sexual abuse. Legalized prostitution will only serve to fuel the epidemic level of sexual offenses in South Africa. Men who are in the habit of paying for sex are very likely to commit sexual offenses when they lack the funds to pay for sex as is their habit.
  • Decriminalizing exploitation diminishes law enforcement’s ability to detect and investigate sex trafficking. Victims of sex trafficking rarely make official complaints to the police. Further, the fully decriminalized sex trade operates with little to no oversight. It conceals indicators of fraud, force, and coercion, and diminishes the flow of investigative leads which stem from police operations focused on enforcing prostitution laws. For instance, the lack of laws controlling indoor prostitution in Rhode Island (USA) (1980-2009) impeded police investigations by preventing them from arresting pimps/sex traffickers and sex buyers, creating a “zone of impunity” for sex traffickers. Without this frontline capacity, minors and other sex trafficking victims are not identified because police have a “very limited basis to enter and investigate premises operating as a brothel.”
  • Normalized prostitution increases sex trafficking. Brothels, illicit massage parlours, escort agencies, and online platforms are overlapping systems of prostitution and sex trafficking occurs in all of them. Normalization of prostitution expands demand for paid sex. This emboldens sex traffickers who see this as a conducive “business” environment. Cross-national studies have found higher levels of human trafficking in countries with legalized or decriminalized prostitution. Research has also found 100% of convicted sex traffickers support full decriminalization of prostitution.
  • Prostitution is not a substitute for social security safety nets. Some people argue that prostitution is necessary because it provides income for poor and marginalized populations. This view turns prostitution into a faux social security system that requires the sexual exploitation of poor and minority individuals—especially women since most people in prostitution are women. This is regressive, misogynistic, and dystopian. Governments should never reduce economically insecure people to a state of sexual servitude because they are poor.
  • Street-level prostitution is likely to surge. As an example, street-level prostitution is escalated in Brooklyn New York (USA) when a District Attorney “wiped” more than 1,000 open cases of prostitution. Without also instituting rigorous enforcement of laws regarding pimping and sex buying this resulted in de facto full decriminalization.
  • Nonenforcement of prostitution laws harm disadvantaged communities. The harm of prostitution rarely stops at the individual level; it also inflicts harms on communities, residents, families, and businesses. Neighbourhoods littered with condoms and drug paraphernalia, neighbourhood residents—women and children—being solicited for prostitution by roving sex buyers, and adverse impacts to businesses are typical. Poor and minority communities typically bear the brunt of such impacts.
  • Sex buyers can be deterred, and evidence points to the effectiveness of demand reduction tactics to combat prostitution. For example, studies in Jersey City, New Jersey, and San Francisco, California, (USA) and Bolton (UK), found that arresting and educating men for soliciting produced 40-75% reductions in prostitution. An evaluation of an education program in San Francisco (USA) showed a reduction in re-arrests by over 40%, was simple, and implemented at no cost to taxpayers. The fees paid by the offenders fully covered the cost of the program and generated over $3 million in additional revenue that was used, in part, to support programs for survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking. An evaluation of a similar programmes in England found similar benefits. While many men have purchased sex, most have not. Buying sex is not inevitable.
  • Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution does not enhance women’s choice. Most women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution. They did not sit down one day and decide that they wanted to be prostitutes. Rather, such “choices” are better termed “survival strategies.” Rather than consent, a prostituted woman more accurately complies to the only options available to her. Her compliance is required by the very fact of having to adapt to conditions of inequality that are set by the customer who pays her to do what he wants her to do.
  • Most of the women interviewed in CATW studies reported that choice in entering the sex industry could only be discussed in the context of the lack of other options. Most emphasized that women in prostitution had few other options. Many spoke about prostitution as the last option, or as an involuntary way of making ends meet. In one study, 67% of the law enforcement officials that CATW interviewed expressed the opinion that women did not enter prostitution voluntarily. 72% of the social service providers that CATW interviewed did not believe that women voluntarily choose to enter the sex industry (Raymond and Hughes: 2001).
  • The distinction between forced and voluntary prostitution is precisely what the sex industry is promoting because it will give the industry more security and legal stability if these distinctions can be utilized to legalize prostitution, pimping and brothels. Women who bring charges against pimps and perpetrators will bear the burden of proving that they were “forced.” How will marginalized women ever be able to prove coercion? If prostituted women must prove that force was used in recruitment or in their “working conditions,” very few women in prostitution will have legal recourse and very few offenders will be prosecuted.
  • Women in prostitution must continually lie about their lives and their bodies. Some prostitution survivors have stated that it took them years after leaving prostitution to acknowledge that prostitution wasn’t a free choice because to deny their own capacity to choose was to deny themselves.
  • There is no doubt that a small number of women say they choose to be in prostitution, especially in public contexts orchestrated by the sex industry. In the same way, some people choose to take dangerous drugs such as heroin. However, even when some people choose to take dangerous drugs, we still recognize that this kind of drug use is harmful to them, and most people do not seek to legalize heroin. In this situation, it is harm to the person, not the consent of the person that is the governing standard.
  • Even a 1998 ILO (UN International Labour Organization) report suggesting that the sex industry be treated as a legitimate economic sector, found that “…prostitution is one of the most alienated forms of labour; the surveys [in 4 countries] show that women worked ‘with a heavy heart,’ ‘felt forced,’ or were ‘conscience-stricken’ and had negative self-identities. A significant proportion claimed they wanted to leave sex work [sic] if they could (Lim, 1998: 213).”
  • When a woman remains in an abusive relationship with a partner who batters her, or even when she defends his actions, concerned people don’t say she is there voluntarily. They recognize the complexity of her compliance. Like battered women, women in prostitution often deny their abuse if provided with no meaningful alternatives.
  • Women in systems of prostitution do not want the sex industry legalized or decriminalized. In a 5-country study on sex trafficking done by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and funded by the Ford Foundation, most of the 146 women interviewed strongly stated that prostitution should not be legalized and considered legitimate work, warning that legalization would create more risks and harm for women from already violent customers and pimps (Raymond et al, 2002). “No way. It’s not a profession. It is humiliating and violence from the men’s side.” Not one woman interviewed wanted her children, family, or friends to have to earn money by entering the sex industry. One stated: “Prostitution stripped me of my life, my health, everything.”
  • Governments that legalize prostitution as “sex work” will have a huge economic stake in the sex industry. Consequently, this will foster their increased dependence on the sex sector. If women in prostitution are counted as workers, pimps as businessmen, and buyers as consumers of sexual services, thus legitimating the entire sex industry as an economic sector, then governments can abdicate responsibility for making decent and sustainable employment available to women and youth.
  • Rather than the State sanctioning prostitution, the State should address the demand by penalizing the men who buy women for the sex of prostitution, and support the development of exit strategies, rehabilitation, and alternative employment for women in prostitution industries. Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, thereby funding real alternatives for women in prostitution.
  • Full decriminalization of prostitution is not just. The lived experiences of people in the sex trade around the world reveal the abuses, harms, and chronic traumatization intrinsic to prostitution. Not only is this impossible to ignore, but it demands a just response. Just responses to these harms will:
    • Full decriminalization of prostitution is not just. The lived experiences of people in the sex trade around the world reveal the abuses, harms, and chronic traumatization intrinsic to prostitution. Not only is this impossible to ignore, but it demands a just response. Just responses to these harms will:
    • a) decriminalize those sold in systems of prostitution,

    b) create and enforce punishments that hold accountable those who facilitate or engage in the purchase

    of persons for sex, and

    c) provide supportive services for those seeking an exit from prostitution.

    Yours faithfully,

    Elfrieda Fleischmann

    PhD, PhD (Education), MEd, PGCE, BSc Honours (pharmacology), BPharm

    CYPSA: Secretary

    Adam Mickleburgh


    CYPSA: Administration

    [1] Raymond, J. (March 25, 2003). 10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution. Retrieved from https://rapereliefshelter.bc.ca/10-reasons-for-not-legalizing-prostitution/.

    [2] Raymond, J. (March 25, 2003). 10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution. Retrieved from https://rapereliefshelter.bc.ca/10-reasons-for-not-legalizing-prostitution/.

    [3] Raymond, J. (March 25, 2003). 10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution. Retrieved from https://rapereliefshelter.bc.ca/10-reasons-for-not-legalizing-prostitution/.

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