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Sex work to be legalized


Chris Theko

Lesotho is making in-roads towards making an uncommon about-turn to the otherwise conservative way of life by legalizing minority rights such as sex-workers.

According to Member of Parliament for Mabote # 29 Fako Moshoeshoe who is also Chairperson of the Social Cluster Parliamentary portfolio committee, parliament is discussing the possibility in order to be in-synch with the best international practices.

He pointed out that his committee is in discussing in depth such an eventuality before it could be presented before the entire National Assembly, while also treading with caution on the matter cognizant of its sensitivities.

“Because we are part of the international community, we have to do as the rest of the world is doing, hence we are discussing it in the committee.  This will be passed but only for the protection and safety of the sex workers,” Moshoeshoe revealed. 

“This is a sensitive issue because we are a very traditional and conservative nation as Basotho, but times are changing and the world is adopting ways of protecting vulnerable communities” he said.

Meanwhile, Moshoeshoe pointed out that not only are they discussing the legalisation or decriminalisation of sex work but also are looking into the legalisation of same sex marriages and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Queer (LGBTIQ+) community rights. 

He said there is no time frame to when this will be passed due to a number of consultations that still have to take place over those held with the sex workers on a regular basis. 

“There are still a number of consultations to be conducted with relevant stakeholders and community leaders,” he said.      

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Sex Workers’ Association attested to regularly meeting the Cluster through Moshoeshoe who has always seemed in support of their notion.

They pointed out that if the move does go through, they welcome it with open hearts as a very positive move safeguarding their interests for which they have been strongly advocating.  

In an interview with Newsday this week, the Coordinator of the Key Affected Populations Alliance of Lesotho (KAPAL) Lepheana Mosooane said they have been fighting for a long time to be duly recognised by law in their trade.

“We have been fighting and advocating for the legalization or decriminalization of sex work in the country, however, currently we have not received any communication on the matter but should it be true that the government is considering it, we will be happy,” Mosooane said. 

“We have been in meetings with the Cluster Chairperson Mr Fako Moshoeshoe who has always shown support and understanding to why sex work should be legalised in the country,” he said. 

“In one of our meetings he had said he would pass the call to the social cluster committee which then would pass it on to the government for approval” he said.

Late last year sex workers in Lesotho continued to advocate for the legalization of sex work inter alia through KAPAL as they regard sex work as work like any other work.

This was revealed at an event where KAPAL as the only sex workers’ organisation in Lesotho handed over food parcels to 12 sex workers, and rent contributions to another 12 sex workers together with masks, condoms, lubes and HIV self-tests to all 24 beneficiaries.

Mosooane had said during the event that one of the challenges they have had to face was the fact that sex work is not legal.

“Our work is very difficult because there are some of the things we can and cannot do. For instance, police can arrest sex workers in streets and take them to court. But funding for sex work is not prohibited in the country. At the ministry of health there are funds used specifically for sex workers,” he said.

About 77 countries in the world have unreservedly legalised sex work. Those countries include Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland and France, with some places like United States, having a few exceptions. 

In Africa, the trade is legal in the Central Africa Republic, while Senegal and Code d’Ivoire permit the operation of brothels. In Lesotho, in-roads are being made to breakdown the stereotypes as witnessed in the recent issuance of a strip club trading license. 

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