Buying sex, not selling, will be a crime
Sex trafficking and prostitution are estimated to generate R40,000 per second but this could change when South Africa adopts a new law developed in Sweden.
South Africa is in line to become the eighth country to adopt the Nordic Law, developed in Sweden and used in countries such as Norway and Canada, which criminalises the buying of sex but not the selling.
The Swedish ambassador for Combating Trafficking in Persons, Per-Anders Sunesson, was in South Africa on Wednesday to meet civil groups and the government to promote the adoption of the model that has seen prostitution halved and sex trafficking virtually eliminated since it was implemented in Sweden in 1999.
Sunesson told TimesLIVE that there was an increase in sex trafficking across Europe as a result of migration flows, which forced disenfranchised groups to look for ways to earn money.
They were then exploited by human traffickers.
Current legislation in South Africa criminalises both the buying and selling of sex, but despite this an estimated 150,000 sex workers continue to operate across the country.
NGOs are waiting for a report by the SA Law Reform Commission, which contains recommendations on amending the law, to be released by the Department of Justice for public consultation.
Sunesson said the models used in countries such as New Zealand and Germany, where prostitution was completely decriminalised, worsened the problem of trafficking and prostitution.
"There are over 400,000 sex workers in Germany and only 1% are registered," said Sunesson. "Our model reduces the demand, and if there is no demand it reduces this kind of exploitation."
Director of women's rights group Embrace Dignity, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, said they wanted prostitution abolished because "we regard it as oppression and a form of gender-based violence".
"The current law is not working to reduce prostitution because it does not deal with the underlying issues. Research has shown people go into [sex work] out of a lack of choice."
- TMG Digital/TimesLIVE