Tell me more about equality!


1. Banning prostitution does not amount to indirect unfair discrimination against women.

This is according to the court case of S v Jordaan. The judge ruled that the problem lies with women generating supply and not with men’s demand. It was ruled that the prohibition cannot be said to be unfair on the basis that the majority of offenders are women.

2. There is a difference between formal and substantive equality.

Formal: Equal treatment for all. Section 9(2) of our Constitution reads that everyone is entitled to the same protection and benefit of the law.
Substantive: Unequal treatment in order to reach the Constitution’s goal of an equal society. Our courts have ruled that it would take much longer to restore the injustices of the past if one were to treat everyone identically, without taking into account his/ her/ the group’s social and economic circumstances. Example: Affirmative Action.

3. In S v Hugo the court agreed that there was in fact discrimination, but ruled that the discrimination was fair.

In the Hugo case the President pardoned mothers with children under the age of 12 from prison. A single father of a child under 12 applied to have this decision declared unconstitutional as it unfairly discriminated against his gender.

The court ruled that this pardon does amount to discrimination but that this discrimination is not unfair in that the generalisation (that mothers are more often than not the caretakers of minors) is acceptable. The court, however, ruled that each case should be treated on its own merits and stressed the importance of context and the impact of the discrimination (our prisons are overcrowded, society would not react well to the release of both parents as it will be a very large group & this pardon does not deprive the father from applying for an early release).

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