Much has been made about the strength of South Africa’s infrastructure to host a successful World Cup. To that end, South Africa is considering beefing up their capabilities in providing the best World Cup possible by legalizing prostitution.
It was South African police commissioner Jackie Selebi who first proposed the idea, arguing that if prostitution is legalized, it would free up police to deal with more pressing security issues, but last Wednesday, at an Arts and Culture Department meeting on its plans for social cohesion for 2010, the proposal was presented again, this time from ANC MP George Lekgetho. “It is one of the things that would make it [the tournament] a success because we hear of many rapes, because people don’t have access to them [women],” Lekgetho stated during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture in Parliament.
Not everyone was as keen on the idea as Lekgetho, some seeing it as a joke, and others as an offense. Lekgetho’s idea is supported by many of the same arguments that have been thrown around before. Theoretically so long as it’s legal, it will be easy to license, regulate, and tax. It would provide money for the country, establish some guidelines and safety precautions for the workers and their patrons, and generally allow the prostitutes more organizational capabilities, providing more safety and empowerment. There is also the issue of HIV. Legalizing prostitution could pave the way for regulations on mandatory testing for HIV and other STD’s, making it safer for both the prostitutes and their patrons. Said Lekgetho, “If sex working is legalised people would not do things in the dark. That would bring us tax and would improve the lives of those who are not working.”
The remainder of the meeting focused on the customer service in South Africa, but the topic of legalizing prostitution for the 2010 tournament was left for further consideration, with another ANC MP, Christopher Gololo suggesting the topic be an issue given to the public to debate. However, DA MP Sydney Opperfman pointed out the danger in “commercializing” the relationship, stating, “You cannot attach a price to the deepest union between a man and a woman and link it to our tax base.”
On the other hand, the issue of human trafficking and abuse cannot be ignored as football fans across the globe flock to the fragile nation for football and all the other accessories that go with the game. Alcohol and sex seem to be as big a part of many fans’ experience as watching the matches itself. Legalizing prostitution may make fans safer, and make their access to prostitutes a little bit cleaner, but South Africa is correct in realizing that their country’s long-term identity will not be defined solely by 2010, and weighing the detriments compared to the benefits of such a drastic policy shift may spell disaster for the country in the long run, if the country isn’t ready for it.
Instead of pondering these profitable but theoretical possibilities, South Africa should look at what they projected they’d be able to produce when they were initially awarded the tournament, and legalizing prostitution was probably not in that dossier.
Its natural for South Africa to refer back to 2006, as Germany served as a fantastic host. The legalized public drinking and prostitution probably helped that along, and to that end, replicating Germany in terms of legalized prostitution makes sense to debate, but Germany also had readied stadiums and roads and transportation. Cart before the horse, really.