The healthy side of the sex work debate: Bhekisisa Right of Reply

EDINBURGH — Decriminalising sex work is one of the best ways to reduce the rate of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, is the view of many in the NGO sector. Bhekisisa, which produces health journalism for the Mail & Guardian, has covered the issue extensively. It points to a study that reveals an almost 60% rate of infection of HIV in the female sex worker community – an alarming figure, that also means that sex workers have a good chance of transmitting HIV to their partners. Taking on Bhekisisa has been Chuck Stephens, who works for the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership but writes about the issue in his own capacity. He questions the sense in decriminalising prostitution. Bhekisisa says Stephens, whose work is published on BizNews, should ground his arguments in evidence. – Jackie Cameron

Bhekisisa Right of Reply

On 13 February, BizNews published an opinion piece entitled, “When sex work are dirty words and prostitution is not” by Chuck Stephens. As with any debate, whether around sex work or vaccines, Bhekisisa’s coverage is rooted in scientific evidence because we believe that is the only way to responsibly report on health issues – matters that have a direct impact on people’s lives.

That is why every assertion in our reporting and incidentally in our opinion pieces as well must be accompanied by a URL to the original data source so that our readers can evaluate it for themselves. When our reporters or opinion makers have produced a piece, these citations are fact-checked in the editing process to ensure that research is cited correctly, including stating its limitations when relevant.

This is true both for pieces published by advocates of decriminalisation and those opposing it and whose comment pieces have both appeared on our site.

Bhekisisa’s reporting on the health benefits of the decriminalisation of sex work is, like our other articles, grounded in evidence. Our in-depth article wasn’t concerned with the morality of sex work; instead, it evaluated the impact of different sex work regulation models on the spread of HIV and gender-based violence. It’s evidence that we invite our readers to review and judge for themselves. We invite Mr Stephens to do the same both in regards to our coverage and his own, plentiful opinion pieces.