Last week saw the launch of the Asijiki Coalition for the Decriminalisation of Sex Work – the collaboration of a number of organisations aiming to end the criminalisation of sex work.
The Gender Action Project would like to affirm its support of calls to decriminalise sex work. We recognise that sex work is a legitimate form of work, and that sex workers deserve to be supported and recognised. We fully believe that activism in the sex industry needs to be led by sex workers, and needs to be considerate of sex workers’ agency and personal circumstances.
In 2013, the Commission for Gender Equality released a report in which they argue for the decriminalisation of sex work. In this report, they assert that that criminalising sex work is not in line with the Constitution. The criminalization of sex work violates section 10 (human dignity – everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected), section 12 (Freedom and security of the person – everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to security in and control over their body) and section 22 (Freedom of trade, occupation and profession – every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation or profession freely) of the Constitution.
A great number of researchers have pointed out that criminalising sex work means that sex workers are in more vulnerable positions. Sex workers are less likely to receive quality, compassionate health care. They are also more likely to be abused, commonly by the police.
It is necessary for us to end the stigma against sex work and to create a society in which sex workers feel supported and safe. As such, we firmly support initiatives like the Asijiki Coalition and organisations which aim to help sex workers.
Gender Action Project Committee