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Sex workers.

High-profile events remind the medical profession that they have obligations of protection. The publicity around the murder of five sex workers in one area of the UK spurred the BMJ to an enlightening editorial on the topic of protecting workers in the oldest profession.

They are no doubt an at-risk group, having the highest mortality of any section of women, and suffer victimisation and marginalisation. In addition, countries like the UK have antiquated laws discriminating against sex workers, which confuse morality and legislation. Goodyear and Cusick (BMJ 2007; 334: 52-53) assert that the law should protect workers, irrespective of the perceived morality of their trade, and that prostitution should be removed from criminal law.

They label the status quo 'unacceptable moral cowardice' and challenge politicians to follow the example of New Zealand, whose Prime Minister, Helen Clark, legislated to de-criminalise sex work in 2003. She said the move was for the welfare of a vulnerable group and not related to morality.

A correspondent to the BMJ takes the argument several steps further. Owens (2007; 334: 170) suggests that sex workers raise their client's self-esteem, especially if they come from the less fortunate strata of society. They could also use their skills in participating in the recovery of stroke victims. They certainly are masters, or the female equivalent, of non-verbal communication.
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Title Annotation:THE BEST OF THE REST
Publication:South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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Next Article:Menorrhagia management.

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