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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

BOTSWANA: In Conservative Botswana, a Push to Legalize Prostitution


Agence France Presse (11.08.11) - Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The former president of Botswana wants the country to decriminalize prostitution in order to facilitate HIV prevention initiatives with sex workers. One in four adults have HIV in Botswana, and that rate has hardly moved during the last decade.

"Decriminalizing sex work does not mean encouraging it, but it would rather pave way for policies that protect those that have been forced into the trade," Festus Mogae told a recent meeting of the National AIDS Council, which he heads. "They will be able to report men who forcibly put them at risk of contracting the virus, and in turn men who seek their services will no longer abuse them as might be the situation now." The proposal has the support of the main opposition party and its leader as well as the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS. However, it faces a backlash among some religious groups, and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, which Mogae once led, has yet to take a position.

"Sex according to Christian values is meant for people in a marriage with the aim to procreate," said Father William Horlu, a Roman Catholic Church spokesperson. "It is taboo to engage in sex for money and I hope Botswana, being a Christian country, will not allow the trade to be decriminalized." "We cannot talk about the church way because it has failed in history," said Mogae, who has also proposed scrapping Botswana's anti-sodomy law. He plans to bring his recommendation to the cabinet and parliament.


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