South Africa still does not have a clear strategy to deal with the complexities of adult prostitution, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday.
A South African Law Reform Commission report had been compiled on Sexual Offences: Adult Prostitution for public consultation, he told reporters in Pretoria.
The report is aimed at reviewing the fragmented legislative framework that regulates adult prostitution, which is currently completely criminalised.
"The commission found that despite mounting public and official concern about prostitution, South Africa has no clear strategy for dealing with prostitution, either on a primary and preventative level or on a secondary and intervention level," he said.
Poverty, inequality, and unemployment played a crucial role in subjecting already vulnerable women to exploitation.
The report contains two scenarios for how government could approach the issue, given concerns about the safety, security and the apportioned criminality of those engaging in adult prostitution.
"The first option, which is the commission's preferred option, is to retain a totally criminalised legal framework," he said.
This option was coupled with the opportunity for people engaged in prostitution to get access to supportive resources and systems that would allow them to leave such work.
The second option favours the partial criminalisation of adult prostitution. It criminalises all role-players, except the person providing the sexual service. This option could, however, lead to exploited women being subjected to further violence and harm.
It was important, given the varying views on the subject, and the cyclical trap that women providing sexual services found themselves in, that government received public input into the report.
Recent heinous crimes against women and children were a concern to government. It had, however, a responsibility to consider the choices of consenting adults, within the ambit of the Constitution.
"It is important that we participate and assist in finding a solution for these challenges. We all have a responsibility to rise against gender-based violence and build a human-rights based society," Masutha said.