Cape Town’s mayor Dan Plato has dropped the ball: he has slammed a proposal, to brand condoms with soccer balls, as “nuts” for promoting prostitution.
In fact the innovative idea from the sex workers union (SWEAT) and the SA National AIDS Council (SANAC) is aiming to promote HIV prevention and awareness.
“I think they (Sweat and SANAC) are nuts thinking they can somehow promote prostitution through the World Cup,” Plato reportedly said.
He said there was “no way” he would condone the decriminalisation of prostitution and he was worried about “young girls on the streets”.
Young girls are particularly vulnerable to abuse while sex work remains illegal and underground.
SANAC’s health researcher Marlise Richter said: “Sex work has links to the World Cup, HIV/Aids, human rights, the law and public health.
“With the influx of an estimated 450 000 visitors to the country and with our high rates of HIV, it is critical that our laws create an environment (to achieve) the best possible public health outcomes.”
The decriminalisation of adult sex work in South Africa is under review and a paper by the SA Law Reform Commission, released this year, tabled four options from total criminalisation to non-criminalisation with regulation.
Adult sex work needs to be legalised to protect sex workers against violence and exploitation, reduce their risk of getting or spreading HIV and upholding labour and human rights.
Vivienne Lalu, SWEAT‘s advocacy officer told me: “We have been campaigning for decriminalisation for more than 14 years.
“Allegations that we are only pressing for 2010 spin-offs is a complete denial of not only sex worker rights, but human rights.
“The Amended Sexual Offences Bill to be delivered to the Department of Justice is due only in 2011,” she said.
Errol Naidoo, director of the Family Policy Institute, reportedly said he was concerned about reports that young girls were being trafficked into South Africa from rural areas and neighbouring countries to service visitors to the World Cup.
South Africa needs to create an environment to protect all sex workers ahead of the World Cup from violence and disease. 2010 condoms could contribute to this, and could even become souvenirs.