Sex Work as a test case for African feminism

Marlese Richter, “Sex Work as a test case for African feminism”. Buwa! Sex and Health: A Journal on African Women’s Experience 2:1 (October 2012), 62.

No abstract available. Extract from introduction:

“The current law that makes sex work illegal in South Africa also makes it possible for police to bribe, extort and mistreat sex workers; increases the stigma that attaches to sex work; compounds barriers to sex worker access to health and legal services; and empowers clients to do great harm to sex workers without fearing any legal consequences.

But the question is – is the only alternative to this criminalised system, those boxes in Amsterdam where sex work is legalised?

In this article, I explore the discomfort that some feminists feel when discussing this question by looking at the current debates about definitions of sex work and the ideological work that is employed to conflate sex work with social evils like child prostitution and human trafficking. I focus on how two strands of feminism – radical feminism and sex-positive feminism – have responded to the dilemma posed by sex work. I argue that an African, sex-positive feminist perspective would provide useful entry points into making feminist sense of the scenario described above. I conclude by showing that the type of feminism one identifies with would have no impact on the feminist imperative to support the decriminalisation of sex work.”

Full text available here.

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