Prostitution is paid rape

In A call to protect sex workers (Sowetan June 25), justice department director-general Menzi Simelane said sex workers needed more protection from the law and this could be provided by decriminalisation - if there is sufficient public consensus.

In A call to protect sex workers (Sowetan June 25), justice department director-general Menzi Simelane said sex workers needed 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 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 receptive. It allows buyers and pimps to obscure the abuse involved and to confer a form of right on the abuser. The fact that money changes hands cannot disguise the fact that what occurs in prostitution, the bodily and psychological violations, are sexual abuse and harassment and would be seen as such in any ordinary workplace or social setting.

By recognising prostitution as "paid rape" and therefore a violation of the right to women's dignity, the 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 it should be dealt with separately by police officials.

If Simelane really understood the exploitation and humiliation involved in prostitution he would not be calling for its decriminalisation, but would be expressing his outrage that any man could allow this to happen to his girlfriend, wife, daughter, sister or mother.

Taryn Hodgson, national coordinator,

Africa Christian Action, Claremont

X