South African Full Decriminalization of Prostitution Bill Won’t Move Forward

NCOSE Press Statement logo

WASHINGTON, DC (June 7, 2023) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) and its subsidiary, the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation (ICOSE), commended South Africa’s decision to stop a bill that would fully decriminalize prostitution.

“The bill in South Africa that would have fully decriminalized prostitution would concurrently have decriminalized men who buy sex from prostituted persons. There is no way to eradicate prostitution and to stop gender-based violence against women without legal remedies to hold sex buyers accountable. The South African bill did not include any measures to thwart sex buyers,” said Dr. Marcel van der Watt, Research Institute Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, who has dealt extensively with sex trafficking and sexual offenses committed by sex buyers in South Africa’s sex trade from both a law enforcement and research perspective.

“Full decriminalization of prostitution policy ‘solutions’ will never make prostitution ‘safer,’ as prostitution is never safe and inherently leads to physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. Fully decriminalizing prostitution ultimately creates more demand for prostituted persons and increases sex trafficking. South Africa should focus on building off ramps for people in systems of prostitution.”

Many South African survivor voices are calling for the Sankara Model, which would criminalize pimps, brothel owners, and sex buyers, while decriminalizing those exploited in systems of prostitution.

About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.   

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

Previous slide
Next slide


Survivor Lawsuit Against Twitter Moves to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Survivors’ $12.7M Victory Over Explicit Website a Beacon of Hope for Other Survivors

Instagram Makes Positive Safety Changes via Improved Reporting and Direct Message Tools

Sharing experiences may be a restorative and liberating process. This is a place for those who want to express their story.

Support Dignity

There are more ways that you can support dignity today, through an online gift, taking action, or joining our team.

Defend Human Dignity. Donate Now.

Defend Dignity.
Donate Now.