Parliament’s Multi-Party Women’s Caucus hosts Summit on Adult Prostitution



SUBJECT: Parliament’s Multi-Party Women’s Caucus hosts summit on Adult Prostitution

On 5 March, Cause for Justice (CFJ) delivered oral submissions at the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus Summit on Adult Prostitution in Parliament.

The purpose of the summit was to allow an opportunity for public participation and comment on the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) Report on Adult Prostitution. The Report recommends that South Africa retains the full criminalisation of prostitution and prostitution-related activities (including soliciting, pimping, brothel-keeping and living off the earnings of prostitution) coupled with the strong diversions programmes to help persons to successfully exit prostitution.

While some summit participants questioned the Report,

“CFJ is satisfied that the SALRC came to its conclusions after a thorough process of investigation, public participation, consideration of research and law on a global scale, and the proper application of all its observations to the South African context. CFJ is convinced that findings based on such extensive and thorough work by a specialist body designed and mandated to make recommendations to government, should only be departed from in the most exceptional of circumstances. After having listened to the comments of all summit participants, both in favour and against the Report’s findings, CFJ concluded that there are no convincing arguments to depart from the Report’s findings.”

At the summit CFJ submitted that law reform will only be necessary if current prostitution laws are either –

  1. unconstitutional and/or
  2. there are conclusive research-based policy considerations that militate so strongly in favour of reform, that a change in the law must be effected.

The Constitutional Court found in the case of S v Jordan that South African laws prohibiting prostitution by criminal sanction are constitutional and that the act of prostitution is itself a human rights violation – constituting a violation of human dignity.  [S v Jordan 2002 (6) SA 642 (CC) para [74].)

With regard to public policy, academic research and case studies of countries that have decriminalised prostitution, have proven that the harms of prostitution are inherent to the practice of prostitution. Legalising prostitution, therefore does nothing to reduce or eliminate these harms.

In amplification, research also proves that decriminalising prostitution exacerbates the harms of prostitution to the person engaged in prostitution and to the community and is directly linked to increases in human trafficking and other criminal activities. Research shows that prostitution is inherently harmful and violent and can therefore never be seen as work. Summit participants who are actively engaged in prostitution or are, in their own words, survivors of prostitution, confirmed this view.

“Since prostitution originates primarily in desperate socio-economic circumstances that leave already vulnerable persons, especially women and girls, with severely limited survival options, CFJ is of the view that government and civil society should concentrate on improving the socio-economic circumstances of vulnerable South Africans instead of wasting time and resources on reforming laws that will ultimately not help those in prostitution, but expose them and society to even greater harm.”

CFJ also prepared written submissions for the purposes of the summit.


For further queries, contact CFJ at:


Tel: 083 235 1511


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