Stop the abuses, legalise sex work

Sex work is still criminalised across the region through laws that target related activities such as procurement, living off the earnings of prostitution, brothel-keeping, soliciting for immoral purposes, committing immoral acts in public, idle and disorderly behaviour, rogues and vagabonds etc.sex_work_web_4

In some countries, the ‘spread of disease’ or ‘failure to disclose HIV positive status prior to sex’ may also constitute an unlawful sexual act. Even in jurisdictions where selling sex itself is not illegal, law enforcement officers often do not understand the legal distinctions and treat sex workers as criminals.

Punitive laws relating to sex work promote a climate which enables widespread violations of sex workers’ basic rights. This consistently leads to the discrimination of sex workers – for example, through poor access to justice and inappropriate healthcare services. Furthermore, the unwillingness of state actors and stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue or conduct detailed research regarding sex work creates additional barriers to appropriate and effective policy formulation.

For years there have been reports of the consistent physical and sexual abuse of sex workers in southern Africa – by both the police and other state actors and members of the public. The laws that oppress sex workers and criminalise various acts also increase their vulnerability to abuse since they are often based on the ‘morality of the majority’ rather than on evidence or human rights.

Strong anecdotal evidence suggests that physical beatings, extortion and rape of sex workers are alarmingly common – and that these abuses are often carried out by the police.

The criminalisation of sex workers also makes it much more difficult for them to negotiate safer sex. Stigma and discrimination at clinics often means sex workers do not have regular access to condoms and essential sexual and reproductive health services. Actors within the public service use the law, religion and culture to subjectively deny sex workers access to treatment, care and support.

And the legal marginalisation of sex workers prevents them from seeking redress for these abuses.

There is an urgent need to address the marginalisation and exclusion of sex workers. The lack of political action and reliable funding to address the needs of sex workers in southern Africa are hindering efforts to effectively respond to their health needs and protect their basic human rights.

And even where interventions targeted at sex workers do exist, these are often confined solely to female sex workers who have sex with male clients, with none targeting male or transgender sex workers.

Sex workers should be recognized as agents of their own lives and bodies. Rather than being punitive, abusive and enabling of abuse, laws should be protective of sex workers. Despite many people’s moral view, sex work cannot be legislated away, especially as it is a legitimate form of work.

The only answer is for laws that explicitly or latently criminalise sex work to be repealed and for sex work to be decriminalised. Only then will sex workers be able to effectively demand their rights – and hope to live their lives free from abuse.

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33 thoughts on “Stop the abuses, legalise sex work”

  1. Tengupenya says:

    There are many types of jobs. Whatever one does routinely for a living is a job.

  2. me says:

    you know illegalising prostitution only means that the the trade will be pushed underground paving way for other clandestine, criminal acts. If we want to lower the cases of STDs transmission in the country, we could perhaps follow the system that for example Turkey has adopted in which prostitutes have licence which is upgraded every month. The licence contains infomation such as STD status etc and it is frequently inspected by police who inspect bars and places of the sort and Turkey is a country having only 5000 cases of hiv/aids out of the 70 million people living in the country. Unlicenced prostitution is crime with stiff sanctions…

  3. mukotakota says:

    This is nonsense.. To hell with your idea of legalizing sex work!!!!

  4. ulendowu ndi watonse says:


  5. Mmodziyenkha says:

    uhule anthu akupanga masively koma mwina chatsalacho ndi chiphaso choyendera maliseche.

  6. jeff says:

    Very bad idea this will destroy our family system and spoil our moral velues

  7. Namalila says:

    This will just promote spread of STI’s in the country.
    We are already poor and have alot of problems in our plate and better concentrate on that.

  8. Namalila says:

    Common, this will help to have no stable families in the country.
    What sort of Malawi do we want to have in future.
    Even the word of God doesn’t allow prostitution, please, please, let’s not destroy our country. .
    leave that to the wests.

  9. ndadabwa says:

    Mulungu muli kuti mumukanthe annie banda

  10. tambwali mchanda says:

    I am very skeptical about this idea. This will promote women trafficking leading to more abuse of our girls. The abuse we see now is nothing than what we will see if we legalize sex work .

  11. tambwali mchanda says:

    I am very skeptical about this idea. This will promote women trafficking leading to more abuse of our girls. The abuse we see now is nothing than what we will see if we legalize sex work

  12. MCP GVT says:

    U must repent, other wise your days r numbered & wil soon b in negatives. U r the same guys influencing same sex relationships in form of human rights. Let me civic-educate u that anything happening contrary to God’s setting of things is demonic. If someone is prostituting or practicing gaysm/lesbianism, he or she needs deliverance not the nosense u r talking about. If u r serving devil u wl continue talking this nosense. God wil help us to deport u from earth b4 u mislead many.

  13. Jekete says:

    Kodi anthu inu bwanji? Kale madzi sitimagula, timangopempha mmakomomu, pano timagula. Uhule ndi business yakalekale nonsemu musanayambe, kulibenso ntchito mukuzidziwazi. Sakakamizatu, ngati watentha ulibe mkazi, kapena mkazi wanyada azimayi amenewa amakuyiwalitsa kwanu, kukuchitsa nkhawa zonse. Pamakhala chitetezo kupewa matenda ndi mimba. Nthawi yonseyi malamulo amaletsa, ku(na)libe mahule? Ngati zili zobwera mau oti hule anachokera kwazungu? Chikhalileni anthu akhala akukwatana mosatopa ndi mahule. Ngakhale muletse, anthu apitilizabe kuchindana mmunsewumu. It”s the order of nuture, you fuck anyone you want as long as they are willing as well.

  14. Zaziiiiiiiiiiiiiiii ingogonani basi stupid article!!!

  15. Ogo says:

    Ziko latha ili mpaka pamenepa nzedi?

  16. chims says:

    is sex work?. it is prostitutes who abuse sex. is sleeping with five men/night normal or an abuse?. who should be punished for their actions?sex is supposed to enjoyed freely but for selfish reasons, somebody decided to make it business and they must suffer the consequences. stupid article.

  17. chefourpence says:

    How much have you been paid to stir the debate? Mwayambapo a Satanic?

  18. dumakude says:

    Whoever coming up with that ideal is stupid I think this called school is mis leading u. Sex worker,,, who told u that sex is somethoing that u can call work? Stop mis leading ppl its agaist God by doing what ur teaching us.

  19. Achimidzimidzi says:

    Kodi Mr. Nyasatimes, do you supply sex workers? Mwairimbikira nkhani imeneyi bwanji?.

    Sexual relationship without marriage is an abuse of sex on its own, so no one should not complain about being abused because the seller and buyer agree to abuse each other. Whether sexually, physically or emotionally.

    Just display the wares. Uvenda ndi wosiyanasiyana ulibe malamulo.

  20. Try Mwale says:

    May the gud Lord forgive and teach such people bringing this IMMORAL behaviour for they no not what they are doing.

  21. Try Mwale says:

    Ambuye Yesu azingobwera basi, nanga mpakana legalising sex work. This shows that even cats, dogs, goats, etc are smarter than people.

  22. wooltang says:

    fuck the jounalist and the devil behind this

  23. Mtunga says:

    Lero mwasowa nkhani eti

  24. These galz help us taste something different away from home. They knows what their duty is in sex and surely they can do any both style simple and complex one that even those so called Mrs X can’t fit at all. I support these ladies carry on good job well done 2014 I hope 2015 and beyond will be a year of more flavours and nurturing.

    1. freespch says:

      Death is haunting you. You can’t see or hear.There is no wax in your ears. You are thinking with your hormones. U WL pay a heavy price for the rest of your life. Pray.

  25. khakhakha says:

    As long as measures are put in place kuti nawonso azipereka income tax palibe vuto.

  26. Bwenzi says:

    End times already prophecied

  27. Mfulatuvi says:

    How as a nation did we get to this point? When will we stop importing such filth from babylonian inspired western culture? Prostitution was unheard of in this country before colonialism,there were no proffesional prostitutes or brothels in malawian culture,its a completely foreign phonomenon. Back then sex was saved for marriage. Now we have the so called educated in our midst calling for the legalisation of such a destructive culture. I call upon all legislators im the national assembly to reject this satanic agenda with the full force it deserves.

  28. vendor says:

    Last days indeed

  29. special advisor says:

    There’s no such thing as “sex work”, believe me. Otherwise, banditry, espionage and piracy will also be classified as work.

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