THE Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside a 2016 High Court decision barring sex workers from holding a street march in Bulawayo to protest against abuse.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The street march, which coincides with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers which takes place annually on December 17, was organised by the Sexual Rights Centre (SRC).
Police had turned down the SRC application on grounds that prostitution was illegal in Zimbabwe.
Subsequent applications were also turned down, forcing the SRC to take the then Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to the High Court, challenging a decision by the police to bar sex workers – commonly referred to as prostitutes – from holding a street march.
The High Court turned down their application, forcing the SRC to approach the Supreme Court.
SRC executive director, Humphrey Ndondo welcomed the Supreme Court decision to allow the organisation to go ahead with their march to highlight the discrimination and harassment faced by sex workers.
“The SRC welcomes the decision to set aside the High Court ruling. Throughout Zimbabwe, sex workers and other marginalised persons are extremely vulnerable to violence, stigma and abuse. In a democratic society such as Zimbabwe, it is important that we create awareness and dialogue aimed at preventing such abuse and the impunity associated with it,” Ndondo said.
The Bulawayo-based Sexual Rights Centre is a national human rights organisation which promotes and encourages openness and tolerance in order to address stigma and discrimination affecting vulnerable and marginalised persons.
“The decision comes at an important time and has opened the door for the SRC to hold a peaceful march to commemorate the upcoming International Day on December 17, 2017,” Ndondo added.
Tashwill Esterhuizen, a programmes lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, added: “The right to peaceful demonstration and assembly are important rights in any democratic society. They are beneficial since they increase appreciation in society of diverse ideas and opinions and bolster social cohesion.”