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HR 101 – Sex Workers Also Have Rights

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations, other legal compliance and Best Practice requirements.

To be perfectly honest, my sense of humour really got the better of me with this one and I must admit I laughed hard and out loud!

Apparently during the month of May 2010, according to Labour Bulletin “the Labour Appeal Court handed down judgement in the case of a sex worker who was unfairly dismissed by the brothel employing her.” Man oh man – I wish I could have been a ‘fly on the wall’ at that one. Probably just as well though that I wasn’t as I probably would have laughed out loud during the handing down of that one too!

You see, in my opinion (and I know that I am going to take a huge amount of flak over this one), sex workers, strippers and well all of the girls who work in this industry are ignored or treated like they are not people and quite frankly, that’s just wrong on so many different levels. Irrespective of whether we condone what they do or not, the fact of the matter is that they work at the oldest profession in the world and until May 2010 have not had any protection what-so-ever and I say ‘shame on us’! Fact of the matter is that they are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts – just like we are! Fact of the matter is, that whatever the reason they work in this particular industry, generally speaking they are all just trying to get along with the business of putting food on the table, just like us! Fact of the matter is – they are people, human beings, individuals who deserve protection, just like us!

Here’s the thing – our very progressive and liberal constitution states that “everyone” has a right to fair labour practices and I guess, for once, ‘everyone’ means just that – every single person, irrespective of whether the employer or the employee is engaged in illegal practice.

Here’s a warning though – the constitution doesn’t absolve them from having engaged in any illegal practices and obviously if they are caught performing illegal tasks (such as a sex worker) they can and will be prosecuted.

What it does mean though, is that irrespective of where you work and the kind of work that you do (legal or otherwise), you have the right to be treated with dignity and respect by your colleagues, your clients and your employers.

Sadly though, even though sex workers have the right to the protection and their employers can be prosecuted for not complying with these rights, there seems to be some confusion as to the compensation for the employee as these may be seen to violate various provisions of the “Sexual Offences Act” – still, in my opinion, it is a step in the right direction.