Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso says there would not be commercial sex work if men were not willing customers.
She said that it takes two to tango and that she blames men for buying sex because for every prostitute at work there is a ‘John’ that is paying for sex. Her call for regulation of brothels and legalisation of prostitution, earned her fierce criticism last year.
Tshireletso said though she may not approve of prostitution, she is aware that people go into sex work. “Some people like it, you can’t stop it,” she said. Tshireletso said she is calling for the establishment of brothels because she is concerned with the safety of sex workers.
“It is all about safety. They are not safe. They are under siege,” she said, adding that sex workers are attacked by criminals and clients who do not want to pay. According to her, sex workers are exposed to all sorts of dangers when they are in the streets.
She said sex workers should be placed under a good shelter. “We are talking about human beings. They should also be protected like people with disabilities,” she said, adding that it pains her to see other women standing in the rain.
Tshireletso does not see any reason why brothels cannot be set up in Botswana like in other countries. “We can’t live in isolation,” she said. “But I’m not saying we should have Boko Haram here just because they have it in Nigeria and other countries,” she added. She revealed that she has been informed that there are brothels already operating outside the law in the country. Tshireletso said she once served in the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) Committee and it was difficult for them to gain access to sex workers for government services.
She said when there are brothels, authorities will be able to gain access to sex workers when they want to offer them government services. She noted that currently it is not easy to gain access to sex workers. She, however, is open to other suggestions. She said other people should come up with ideas on how the issue can be dealt with. Tshireletso said she would never encourage women to go into sex work. “I would encourage them to take government programmes and stop their risky business. But it is not easy to see them,” she said. She noted that research has shown that many of the sex workers are unemployed.
Though her opinions on prostitution, brothels and abortion raised tempest on social media last year, she remains unwavering in her conviction that the law should change on such matters.
The MP for Mahalapye East made it clear that she does not support prostitution and raised eyebrows with her contribution in Parliament when she called for the establishment of brothels.
She also called for the decriminalisation of abortion, which she feels if legalised would reduce, even end, back door abortions that have claimed many lives.