The goal of the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution in Africa (CAPA) is to abolish the system of prostitution through advocating for the adoption, successful enactment and enforcement of the Abolitionist Equality Law in African countries as part of the global abolitionist movement.
We refer to prostitution as a system in order to shift society from the traditional definition of prostitution. This definition absolves perpetrators such as pimps, brothel-keepers and sex traffickers, who pay for sexual access to others’ bodies, of the commodification, exploitation and objectification of women. Our definition makes it clear that it is not prostituted persons that are perpetuating this system but the perpetrators as defined above. We therefore define prostitution as a system that is founded and perpetrated by patriarchy, economic inequality and social exclusion. The system of prostitution is gendered, sexist, racist and classist and it includes transactional sex, pornography, stripping, brothel keeping and sex trafficking. It is one of the worst forms of gender oppression and men’s violence against women and other marginalised bodies. It is a human rights violation that robs the poor and marginalised of the right to life, dignity, security of the person, psychological and bodily integrity. We do not regard it as work. We therefore do not use the terms “sex worker” or “prostitute” but rather, “the prostituted” to denote the exploitation.
NATURE OF THE SYSTEM OF PROSTITUTION
- The system of prostitution is violent, sexually exploitative, one of the worst forms of gender inequality, and a violation of human rights.
- Prostitution targets the most vulnerable. Many prostituted persons enter the system of prostitution when they are children and their children are particularly vulnerable to being prostituted.
- Prostitution is medically, mentally, physically and socially harmful.
- Prostitution is linked to organised crime networks and trafficking in human beings.
- Prostitution is an obstacle to equality between women and men as it involves objectifying and commodifying women’s bodies.
- Prostitution promotes rape culture, human trafficking, and patriarchy.
- Prostitution and patriarchy entrench and perpetuate each other, creating a vicious cycle that can be broken by focusing on and eliminating the demand.
PURPOSE OF THE CHARTER
To build a pan African abolitionist movement that advocates for laws and policies based on the following core principles:
- Decriminalising prostituted persons and supporting persons who wish to exit prostitution.
- Promoting and protecting the rights of survivors of prostitution and trafficking without stigmatisation.
- Targeting the demand by penalising the purchase of sexual acts.
- Criminalising and ensuring no impunity for pimps, brothel owners and all other parties who profit from exploiting the prostitution of others.
- Criminalising and penalising all forms of advertising for paid sexual services.
- Resolutely and systematically opposing the trafficking in human beings.
- Training professionals: police, social workers and health professionals on the nature of prostitution and how to provide services.
- Implementing sex education and prostitution prevention policies, especially targeting schools and the youth.
- Promoting awareness and studies concerning prostitution and the trafficking in human beings, and harmonising data collection systems.
- Responding to the African context of high levels of inequality, poverty, and unemployment; high levels of men’s violence against women; and the high levels of HIV/Aids.
These abolitionist principles have been implemented in the Nordic/Equality model pioneered in Sweden (1999), Norway (2008), Iceland (2009), Canada (2014), Northern Ireland (2015), France (2016), the Republic of Ireland (2017), and Israel (2018). The model aims to reduce prostitution and allow prostituted persons to exit.
A CALL TO ACTION – JOIN THE MOVEMENT
- For CAPA to campaign for all our countries to adopt abolitionist public policies on prostitution and to enact the Equality Law so as to harmonise our approach and not divert prostitution and trafficking to neighbouring countries.
- We as CAPA are creating a national and international network and calling on our governments, regional bodies, international agencies and especially the UN to implement laws and international treaties to abolish the oppressive system of prostitution.
- We commit to alerting all sectors of the public to the realities and harms of the prostitution system.
- We call on all civil society organisations, social justice movements, trade unions, businesses, traditional and cultural organisations, faith-based organisations, women, youth, and men’s and community-based organisations to sign the Charter and be active members of the global movement to abolish prostitution.