At its forty-fourth session in July, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, from South Africa, as Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Known for her South African television show “Sex Talk with Dr. T”, she authored an article in Teen Vogue in 2019 in which she advocated for the young girl readers to consider prostitution as a career:
“I believe sex work and sex worker rights are women’s rights, health rights, labor rights, and the litmus test for intersectional feminism” Dr. T wrote in the 2019 article Why Sex Work is Real Work. “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.”
In the article, she calls for universal legalization of prostitution, comparing her job as a physician to that of a sex-worker.
“I find it interesting that as a medical doctor, I exchange payment in the form of money with people to provide them with advice and treatment for sex-related problems; therapy for sexual performance, counseling and therapy for relationship problems, and treatment of sexually transmitted infection. Isn’t this basically sex work?”
Critics have noted that the appointment by the international organization gives tacit assent for sex-trafficking. . In the past decade, UN agencies like UN Women, UNAIDs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have all taken neutral positions on the decriminalization of prostitution.
“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.”
Advocating for what is euphemistically called “reproductive health”, Dr. T ran a “youth-friendly” abortion clinic in Matatiele, South Africa. In an interview with the Guardian, she said proudly, “I have been an abortion provider for as long as I have been a qualified doctor.” She described her approach as “Pleasure-centered.” She is a strong advocate despite abortion being legalized in her country for 22 years.
In an interview with Eyala about her book, A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure, Dr. T expressed some unusual ideas about anatomy, including the claim that “The hymen is a useless piece of anatomy. ”
“We know from medical history and anthropology that there are other presentations of the way genitalia look externally, but for some reason, we only view the vulva and the penis as the only two variations of genitalia,” she said. “We force people to only have external penis that looks a certain way and have a vulva that looks a certain way – or be considered abnormal. Even when we know that, statistically, intersex is a variation that’s as common as all the other variations.