Decriminalisation of sex work tops the agenda

The 2022 Sex Work Symposium took centre stage in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend.

Held at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban under the Theme: ‘Sex Workers’ Rights are Human Rights, civil society organisations and government participated in discussions regarding the sex work trade.

The main topic of discussion was the decriminalisation of sex work, destigmatization and other issues affecting the sector on 15 July.

During the Sex Work Symposium, eNCA spoke to Sisonke Sex Worker movement representative Katlego Rasebitse who discussed the issues affecting the sector.


In the interview, Rasebitse said they wanted government to revisit the criminalisation of sex workers that was set up during colonialism.

“The criminalisation of sex work started in1975 when the colonisers made sure that they police women’s bodies, specifically black women,” he said.

“But now this is 2022, we are saying to our government that they should revisit those laws that were informed by white supremacists,” he added.

Rasebitse explained that the criminalisation of sex work has impacted sex workers negatively as a result they have gone underground meaning they have no voice.

He said it’s very difficult for a sex worker to walk into a police station after she has been raped and open a case of the nature of her job.

“It’s difficult for them to walk in and say to an officer ‘I’m a sex worker, a consenting adult but I have been raped’, they will not be taken seriously because their work is still regarded as a crime in the country,” Rasebitse explained.


He also reflected on the 200 sex workers that attended the symposium.

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“For KZN Legislature to be doing this, it shows that sooner enough, maybe 2024 sex work will be decriminalised in South Africa,” he envisaged.

He also touched on the destigmatisation of the trade which he accused the media of always portraying a sex worker as a black woman.

“Funny enough we never see the media portray other races as sex workers, but looking at the country now we do have male, Chinese and all types.

We here to say let’s de-stigmatize and put a human face because according to our research one female sex worker feeds up to six people in a household

So this tells you that government needs to be more lenient when it comes to sex workers,” he concluded.

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