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SWEATKholi Buthelezi, national co-ordinator of the Sisonke National Sex Workers Movement in SA, writes that for decades her sisters and brothers in the sex industry have been battling to get their rights recognised and make the decriminalisation of sex work a reality.  

So, as SA approaches the general election in May, Sisonke wants to see politicians engage on this issue.  Buthelezi writes that leaders in the past have made brave decisions that might offend the “morality” of some but protect the vulnerable and marginalised.  Abortion is no longer criminalised and nor are same-sex relationships.  “It is high time we end abuse and pain for sex workers too.  Decriminalising sex work should be on the election agenda.  Our politicians have promised changes but have not followed through,” Buthelezi writes.  She points out that for many years she and her colleagues, together with other human rights activists, have documented abuses against sex workers.  “Almost every sex worker, whether on the streets or in brothels, has a story of being attacked, robbed or raped by men pretending to be clients.  But because sex work is criminalised in SA, sex workers can’t report these abuses to the police, nor can they unite to invest in and create a safe place to work.”  Referring to the coming general elections Buthelezi writes:  “We want to see leaders emerge who come and talk with us, to hear and see for themselves.”  

  • Read Kholi Buthelezi’s full opinion piece on this issue at BusinessLive


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