Home » Human Rights » Women Hail Concourt Ruling On Sex Workers

Women organisations and human rights lawyers have welcomed the decision by the Constitutional Court to outlaw the arrest of women on charges of soliciting for sex in the absence of men confirming that they were offered the services for a fee, saying the landmark ruling will go a long way in safeguarding women’s rights.

Granting an application by nine women contesting their arrest, Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting with eight other judges of the Constitutional Court, declared the arrest and prosecution unconstitutional.

Women’s Action Group national director Edinah Masiyiwa said the ruling was an important legal milestone for women who for long were worried by the continuation and escalation of arbitrary arrest and harassment of their colleagues on the grounds of loitering and prostitution.

“We applaud the Constitutional Court for defending the rights of women, something we had been fighting for, through different strategies and at different platforms. We feel vindicated by the ruling, which will protect the rights of women in public spheres,” she said.

Ms Masiyiwa called on the Government to ensure that the ruling is upheld.

Activist and lawyer, Women in Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust national coordinator Ms Sylvia Chirawu welcomed the Concourt judgment saying it was a true example of constitutionalism. “The judgment protects the rights of women and is a clear example of constitutionalism. It has vindicated the Constitution especially the section on freedom of movement which should be enjoyed by everyone. People had often said that women being referred to here are prostitutes alone. Can anyone prove that every woman who walks in the Avenues at night is a prostitute?”‘

Ms Chirawu called on the media and relevant partners to move away from the monotonous and insistent monologue on the alleged immorality of women and instead protect them from abuse. A pressure group for men, Varume Svinurai welcomed the judgment which it described as “progressive”.

“The raids that had been going on the so called prostitutes were now causing uncertainty among women who were now afraid to travel at night for fear of being arrested. We however, urge women to uphold the rule of law, so that they are not found wanting,” said the co-ordinator Mr Fred Misi.

However, Law and Counselling Trust in Zimbabwe Blessing Nyamusamba said people should not celebrate over the judgment saying prostitution was nothing to be proud of.

“I am not just a lawyer but also a female pastor. While the judgment calls for celebration among women, those who are involved in prostitution should take heed and stay away from the practice,” she said.

Over the years police launched several operations and raided pubs, nightclubs and highways around Zimbabwe, rounding up women believed to be commercial sex workers.

Source : The Herald