THE country’s female judges have voiced their dissatisfaction about the ANC Women’s League’s proposal to decriminalise prostitution in South Africa.
The South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges convened in Port Elizabeth at the weekend where its president, Judge Connie Mocumie, said they were taken aback by the proposal and believed there was a lack of understanding from those who called for it.
“In our understanding, prostitution is more about trafficking and violating women’s rights. This is an incentive for them not to regard those in prostitution as human beings, but a way to make easy money,” she said.
Earlier this year, the women’s league called for prostitution to be decriminalised, saying it would lead to a clampdown on human trafficking.
Mocumie was one of about 150 delegates from around the country attending the three-day conference at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
The group meets every August to discuss issues affecting women.
“We are saddened by the challenges that women in our country still have to grapple with on a daily basis. Women still don’t have access to such basic services as health-care facilities, food security, education and they are still far from having economic freedom,” she said.
“It is regrettable that women and children in particular are still vulnerable and continue to suffer immeasurable attacks at the hands of those people who are supposed to protect them.”
It was fitting that the conference was held during National Women’s Month, Mocumie said.
Even though the lives of South African women had improved since 1994, they were still faced with many challenges, particularly in relation to development and advancement to senior positions within the judiciary, health, education, economic development and security, she said.
Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, said she did not understand why progress was not made in the appointing of women to the highest level of the judiciary.
She questioned why rapists were getting bail and encouraged society not to ignore the plight of women living in the rural areas.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who made the keynote address on Friday, called on female judges to use their positions to advance the rights of women and to protect and empower women throughout the world.
“Striving for an inclusive and representative judiciary was a matter that has been haunting the leadership of the judiciary in South Africa.
“We had to ensure that even if there were no women in the leadership of the judiciary, during the procession we had to have women in our midst so we are not called a boys’ choir.
“There should be bursaries and more money made available for the promotion of women in the judiciary,” Mogoeng said.