Cyril Ramaphosa says sex workers have rights too


During his speech, Ramaphosa condemned the kind of treatment meted out to sex workers, and expressed concern that while the Department of Health supplies these sex workers with condoms, it is not uncommon for the police to confiscate them without any regard to their human rights..
Speaking at the launch of the National Sex Work Sector Plan during Human Rights Month, Ramaphosa emphasised that sex workers could not be denied their humanity and their rights to dignity
He said;
We have one organ of the state providing a very necessary service and another organ of the
state taking that very service away.
This referred to the brutality sex workers receive from the police while they discharge their
This is not necessarily the fault of the police. This is the consequence of our inability to develop
a coherent approach to the challenges facing sex workers.
Whatever views individuals may hold about sex work, whatever the statutes may say about
the legality of sex work, we cannot deny the humanity and inalienable rights of people who
engage in sex work.
He made it clear that all those who do sex work reserve the right to be treated with dignity, and to
say no.
According to Ramaphosa, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of
California had conducted the first detailed study of HIV prevalence among female sex workers in
South Africa
He said;
He said the plan by the National Sex Work Sector was to focus on protecting the right of all South
Africans to life, to dignity, to health, irrespective of their occupation and regardless of their
The plan also included an education programme that will recruit about 1 000 peer educators to
provide support and assistance to about 70,000 sex workers over the next three years. This will be
achieved through sensitisation.
The major aim of the plan is to sensitise healthcare providers, social workers and law enforcement
officials on the right of sex workers to quality care, confidentiality and consent. He reiterated that
they are humans and also citizens of the country and should be treated as such.
He said:
Consistent with our commitment to ensure all South Africans have access to legal representation, Sanac (the SA National Aids Council) has partnered with Legal Aid SA to provide legal and paralegal support through a call centre service to sex workers who are arrested. We launch this plan knowing that our national ef ort to arrest new HIV infections will not succeed if sex workers are disempowered, marginalised and stigmatised. In launching the plan, we call on all sex workers to recognise the enormous power they have to help our nation in making Aids a thing of the past.
Ramaphosa believes that the plan will boost the effect of the national effort to arrest new HIV
infections if only those that engage in sex work will recognize the power they hold that can help
eradicate AIDS from the history of South Africa.
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