“My friend, it is somebody that I knew, but it wasn’t somebody that I knew that could traffic me. It was a girl, it was a student, she was at UJ and I did not know that she had other plans of making money off me.” - Grizelda Grootboom on being trafficked and prostituted in Johannesburg, South Africa. Watch Grizelda’s interview with News24 here :
In 2010, Embrace Dignity, a South African NGO based in Cape Town, opened its doors with the purpose of empowering prostituted people like Grizelda and creating a legal and social environment that would support them and increase their options to exit rather than criminalise and stigmatise already victimised people.
Founded by Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a former Deputy Minister of Health and Defence, and Jeremy Routledge, a former Director of the Quaker Peace Centre, we actively pursue and support a law on prostitution in South Africa that recognises that prostitution is violence against women, undermines gender equality and perpetuates patriarchy. We are advocating for a law that is based on the Nordic system – which criminalises the purchaser of sex and decriminalises the seller – but also recognises the impact of societal problems within South Africa, such as poverty, unemployment, poor education, and a high drop-out rate amongst learners, on vulnerable persons.
Such a law would:
• focus on the demand by criminalising the purchase of sex,
• support those who have been prostituted by decriminalising the sale of sex,
• provide support for those in prostitution to increase their skills and options for employment, and
• criminalise third parties that exploit and benefit from income made from prostitution.
This type of law has been referred to as the Swedish law, the Nordic law, the equality law or “the third way”.
We provide support to those who wish to exit prostitution mainly through referrals to counselling, skills training, small business development and education providers; by supporting survivor initiatives; and by building a survivor network. We are currently evaluating our Exit Programme so that we can draw on our successes and failures in order to implement what works and share that information with others.
Our Public Education Programme is aimed at creating awareness of the harms of prostitution. It also focuses on how communities and organisations can support survivors and prevent more persons from being prostituted into this system of commercialised sexual exploitation.
“We believe that prostitution is exploitative, that it damages those being prostituted and that It is closely linked to violence against women and human trafficking.” - Embrace Dignity
Through our Law Reform Advocacy, Public Education, and Exit programmes we are able to:
- Pursue legal and policy reforms that focus on demand by criminalising the purchasing of sex,
- Support survivors by decriminalising the selling of sex,
- Address prevention by raising public awareness about the real harms and dangers of prostitution, and
- Provide prompt, appropriate and comprehensive support to those who wish to leave prostitution.
In addition, our Exit Programme empowers survivors through various interventions that develop their emotional and vocational skills and help them become self-reliant.
We partner with
....................which are international organisations working against prostitution and trafficking.