The High Court in Zomba has ruled that sex workers in Malawi must not be arrested when they are found in drinking joints and other recreation centres.
High Court Judge Zione Ntaba made the declaration when she overturned the conviction of 19 sex workers who were arrested and prosecuted in February this year.
A lower court convicted the sex workers for living on earnings of prostitution after being arrested in drinking joints and motels in central Malawi’s district of Dedza.
“Hotels, inns, rest houses and motels were not meant for men only but for both men and women,” she said in her ruling.
Ntaba declared that women were free to be at any hospitality facility and should not be arrested on suspicion of indulging in prostitution.
The judge wondered why the women prostitutes were arrested in lodges at night leaving out the male clients, saying this is bias.
She then acquitted the sex workers and ordered the state to compensate them.
Following their conviction by the lower court, the sex workers were told to pay K7500 fines, which prompted them to appeal against the ruling at the High Court.