A former abortionist who staunchly advocates for legalizing prostitution—even among teenagers—has been tapped as one of the United Nations’ top health and human rights experts.
According to the Center for Family and Human Rights, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng is the author of “Dr. T: A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure” and host of a South African television show “Sex Talk with Dr. T” and was appointed as Special Rapporteur to the UN over the summer.
C-Fam reported at the time:
Mofokeng’s appointment was announced last week as the outgoing holder of the position, Dainius Pūras of Lithuania, delivered a presentation on mental health to the Human Rights Council. The position of the Special Rapporteur “on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” was established in 2002, and its holders serve six-year terms.
Special rapporteurs are part of the “Special Procedures” of the Human Rights Council, which include both thematic and country-specific mandates.
Appointed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva, special rapporteurs are independent from UN Member States and yield considerable influence on how human rights obligations are interpreted within the UN bureaucracy. Mofokeng’s reports advancing sexual rights, including the legalizing of prostitution, will likely be cited as authoritative interpretations of human rights law by UN agencies and like-minded Member States.
Back in April, C-Fam reports, Dr. Mofokeng sparked sharp criticism from human trafficking survivors for Why Sex Work is Real Work, an op-ed she penned for Teen Vogue encouraging young girls to consider “sex work.”
“I believe sex work and sex worker rights are women’s rights, health rights, labor rights, and the litmus test for intersectional feminism” Dr. Mofokeng wrote. “The idea of purchasing intimacy and paying for the services can be affirming for many people who need human connection, friendship, and emotional support. Some people may have fantasies and kink preferences that they are able to fulfill with the services of a sex worker.”
Sex trafficking survivors and their advocacy organizations, however, paint a very different picture of a world in which “sex work” is encouraged.
“The idea that legalizing or decriminalizing commercial sex would reduce its harms is a persistent myth,” said Deidre Pujols, founder of Open Gate International and Co-founder of Strike Out Slavery. “Many claim if the sex trade were legal, regulated, and treated like any other profession, it would be safer. But research suggests otherwise. Countries that have legalized or decriminalized commercial sex often experience a surge in human trafficking, pimping, and other related crimes.”
“Sex buyers do not view the women they purchase as individuals worthy of respect, but instead as subhuman objects to use,” Haley McNamara, Vice President for the UK-based International Centre on Sexual Exploitation, added, according to C-Fam.
“The law that Dr. Mofokeng advocates for fully decriminalizes all aspects of the sex-trade, including brothel-keepers and pimps (aka traffickers), said Helen Taylor, Director of Intervention for Exodus Cry. “The United Nations ought to be the last place to advocate for human-traffickers and the buyers who fuel demand to be legalized.”
Taylor called on the UN and Dr. Mofokeng to ensure a “survivor-centered approach and align with the Equality model of partial decriminalization only” in order to help exploited women and girls and punish their “buyers.”
“The brutality of prostitution is inherent and systemic,” wrote Jewell Baraka in response to Mofokeng’s appointment. Baraka, herself a survivor of sexual exploitation, pleaded with Dr. Mofokeng to reconsider her views on prostitution: “Violence of sex buyers is not eradicated by a choice and those that do choose it completely of their own volition are rare. Most survivors do not tell a story of choice, but of force, fraud, and coercion that landed them in prostitution and kept them from leaving.”
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