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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Prostitution 'still illegal' in SA
Prostitute
Prostitutes will continue to work illegally
Prostitution in South Africa should continue to be illegal, the country's Constitutional Court has ruled.

A lower court had earlier declared that the Sexual Offences Act was unconstitutional because it discriminated against women and so should be scrapped.


We are quite disappointed with the ruling

Vivienne Lalloo, sex workers' representative
Prostitutes say that under the present law, women who sell sex are criminalised but men who pay for it are rarely charged.

But the Constitutional Court, the highest jurisdiction in the land, found the act applied to male as well as female prostitutes and so was "gender neutral".

Call for dignity

Vivienne Lalloo, a spokesperson for prostitutes in Cape Town said: "We are quite disappointed with the ruling. We were hoping the Constitutional Court would rule in favour of human rights and dignity for sex workers."

Prostitute stopping a prospective client
Prostitutes say the law is more lenient with patrons

Ms Lalloo, of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force (Sweat), told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that criminalising prostitution did not keep women away from it.

"It just pushes the industry way underground where it is really difficult to reach sex workers," she said.

The Constitutional Court also upheld a law criminalising brothels.

But two of the court's 11 judges said that the law constituted unfair discrimination "by making the prostitute the primary offender, and regarding the patron at most as an accomplice" in remarks quoted by Reuters news agency.

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Vivienne Lalloo
"Criminalising prostitution does not keep women from it"
See also:

22 Jul 02 | Africa
06 Jan 02 | Europe
30 Sep 00 | Europe
15 Sep 00 | Africa
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