Reproductive Justice is an important political movement which brings together reproductive rights with social justice. The movement has three main principles. They are the right not to have a child and the right to have a child. Lastly, it is the right to parent children in safe and healthy environments. Adding to that it demands sexual autonomy and gender freedom for every human being.
The Daily Vox team looks at the three biggest political parties to see how they fare on this issue.
Reproductive Justice Election campaign
The Reproductive Justice Election campaign aims to place pressure on the government to increase the budget and implementation strategies. This is for access to Sexual and Reproductive Services in South Africa. The project is a partnership between the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition (SRJC) and Femme Projects. Kim Windvogel, from Femme Projects, spoke to The Daily Vox about the work they are doing.
Panel on Reproductive Justice
On May 2 a panel discussion was held with the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). A representative from Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and the Soul City Institute were also present.
Windvogel said of the discussion: “We kind of allowed the space to be open and interactive with the public. Questions mostly focused on the lack of implementation. People are tired and angry about the [lack of action].”
Windvogel said the ANC admitted to their failures of implementation. They said, however, changing the system of how gender is thought about is too difficult. The DA were unprepared and unsure of the language that needed to be used said Windvogel.
“With the EFF there was a lot of backlash to their manifesto – even though it was the most in-depth. The sex workers said they held many consultations with the EFF yet the EFF still decided to use the language of legalisation by 2019,” said Windvogel. They added that this position in opposition to the sex workers’ who are calling for full decriminalisation.
Reproductive Justice Election Petition
The campaign put together a petition calling on the three major political parties to increase their budgets for reproductive justice. It is hosted by Amandla.mobi. The petition is to try and create change.
Windvogel said the petition is to get more informed about reproductive justice as a lot of people don’t understand the language around the issue.
Importance of Reproductive Justice
“The most basic answer to start off with is that reproductive justice affects everybody, especially people who are the most marginalised. I am speaking about the queer community, women – all women, sex workers whatever gender they may,” said Windvogel.
Windvogel said choice is the most important thing with people needing to have access to carry out choices about their body in a safe environment without fear of judgement.
African National Congress
The ruling ANC voted for the decriminalisation fo sex work during their 54th ANC National Conference. In the manifesto, presented in 2019, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was informed by the conference. However, the decriminalisation wasn’t mentioned in any great detail in the manifesto.
On gender-based violence, the manifesto said the party will: “Work with all stakeholders to take forward the outcomes of the 2018 Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence.” Additionally it mentions capacitating and equiping the police and the court system to support survivors of gender-based violence and sexual assault.
The official opposition in South Africa, the DA says in their manifesto says they plan to explore possible legal models around sex work. They want to adopt an alternative legal framework to reduce exploitation, abuse and the rape of young women and men.
Additionally they mention they want to: “Creating close relations between them, and the criminal justice system and civil society organisations that represent sex workers and their clients, to understand and apply the rights of sex workers.”
As for gender-based violence the party says: “We believe that there needs to be a focus on primary prevention of abuse, violence and murder rather than a sole reliance on the use of the criminal justice system. It is essential that our police and courts are effective, efficient and adequately resourced to discourage violence and femicide.”
Economic Freedom Fighters
The EFF’s manifesto – one of the longest – dedicated special sections to gender, women and LGBTQI. While most of their policies on this issue relates to the economic emancipation, they have a small section which speaks to reproductive justice.
Under the LGBTQI section, the manifesto mentions: “the EFF government will invest in a public health care system that ensures easy access to gender-affirming treatment.”
In the health section of the manifesto it says “EFF government will ensure that the health care system and health solutions are non-discriminatory towards 73 sexual and gender minorities and those with varying physical and mental abilities.” There is no specific mention of the right to abortion, however, it mentions a non-disrcriminatory health system.
The manifesto also mentions the party “will legalise sex work by the end of 2019”. This is not what advocacy groups are calling for as Windvogel mentioned.
The SRJC have been holding Twitter chats and panel discussions to ensure political parties and government implement the policies they have come up. They are working to continuously hold them accountable for the promises they have made.
Writing in The Daily Maverick, journalist Pontsho Pilane said: “Are these political parties prioritising access to family planning and abortion? Do they believe sex work is real work? These factors are not only important to me, but determine the lives of others who are in worse situations than I am.”
Featured image via Twitter