Prostitution is paid rape (25 June 2009)


Dear Editor

In "Call to protect sex workers" by Anna Majavu (25 June 2009), Justice department director-general Menzi Simelane said sex workers need more protection from the law and this could be provided by decriminalisation – if there is sufficient public consensus.

Sexual intercourse in prostitution as well as the entire exploitative shady underworld of gangs, drugs, crime and trafficking associated with prostitution intrinsically involves harm for the prostitute. Sexual acts in prostitution committed by the “customer” on the women involve humiliation, degrading verbal abuse, physical abuse, and exploitation. There is rarely (if ever) any love, mutual affection or mutual respect involved. Prostitution can therefore be seen as paid rape. 

The illusion that prostitution is a choice is manipulative and deceptive. It allows the buyers and the pimps to obscure the abuse involved and to confer a form of right on the abuser. The fact that money is exchanged cannot disguise the fact that what occurs in prostitution, the bodily and psychological violations involved are in fact sexual abuse and harassment and would be seen as such in any so-called ordinary workplace or social setting.

By recognizing prostitution as “paid rape” and therefore a violation of the right to dignity of women, government and civil society should do their utmost to help women escape this slavery and abuse.  

If prostitutes are being harmed by the police in any way – that should be dealt with separately by police officials. 

If Justice department director-general Menzi Simenlane really understood the exploitation and humiliation involved in world of prostitution he would not be calling for its decriminalisation but would rather be expressing his outrage that any man could allow this to happen to his girlfriend/wife/daughter/sister or mother.

Taryn Hodgson

Africa Christian Action

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa - 021-689-4481 -
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