Sex workers from all over the world have fought to use the term ‘sex work’ instead of ‘prostitution’ to show clearly that selling sex is a job and should be treated as one, rather than an abstract political or moral issue. In many ways selling sexual services is similar to other services like offering entertainment, massages or counselling. Looking at sex work this way means that we can see that many difficulties faced by sex workers are not unique to sex work.
Challenges sex workers face are usually the result of risky, criminalised and abusive working conditions and where and how sex work takes place. These things can be solved by changes in the laws around sex work, better labour law and/or worker-led organising. This fact sheet looks at sex work in South Africa from this labour-centred view and explains why decriminalisation is really the best way to make sure labour rights are introduced.