The South Australian Parliament is currently seeking submissions for the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill
Here is a summary of some the important points in an article I have written about this.
For the fuller article:Why the Nordic Model is the only viable alternative
It is important to recognise that decriminalizing the buying of sex has implications on the broader community. It is important to acknowledge that prostitution is a highly gendered industry. Women are in the vast majority of those who sell their bodies for sexual purposes. Men are in the vast majority who buy women’s bodies for sexual purposes.
The sexual objectification of women as a result sends a very strong message to our community about how we perceive men and that it is permissible for boys and men to see women as objects for sexual use and that prostitution is harmless fun.
The buying of women’s bodies implicates that it is normal for men to have entitlement over women as sexual commodities.
“Legalising or decriminalising the entire industry of prostitution normalises an extreme form of sexual subordination, it legitimises the existence of an underclass of women, it reinforces male dominance, and it undermines struggles for gender equality. It is time to start tackling the attitudes which say that it is acceptable to view and treat women as sexual objects by tackling the demand for commercial sexual exploitation.” https://www.turnofftheredlight.ie/learn-more/
If we are truly serious about addressing the inequalities and oppressions that women experience in our society – sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence and child sexual abuse – then decriminalising and legitimising the buying of women’s bodies and the sexual objectification of women will only exacerbate the current inequalities that women experience.
I would like to address a number of the issues that have been raised in the community in the ‘prostitution debate’.
- Prostitution is not an issue of choice.
It is very apparent that most women who enter and are involved in prostitution do so as a result of being impoverished and marginalised. Many do not have valid alternatives available to them in regard to alternative employment. For most women involved in prostitution they perceive this to be a temporary solution to the many problems that they face.
- Prostitution is harmful in and of itself.
Mary Sullivan from Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Australia in her paper:
“An Update on Legalisation of Prostitution in Australia” has stated:
“Attempts to treat prostitution businesses as similar to other mainstream workplaces actually obscure the intrinsic violence of prostitution. This violence is entrenched in everyday ‘work’ practices and the ‘work’ environment and results in ongoing physical and mental harm for women who must accept that in a legal system such violence has been normalised as just part of the job. “
She argues that the assumption has been made by Victoria’s OHS strategies are that women are able to negotiate safe sex.
“Studies have shown that male buyers in Victoria will not use condoms, with one in five men having admitted to unsafe sex.” (Louie 1998, p.23).
“Men have also become more demanding in the type of services they want. The demand for oral sex, for instance, has been replaced by the demand for anal sex.” (Arnett-Bradshaw 1999).
“That these risk prevention strategies are considered normal safety procedures for women in prostitution expose how the prostitution work environment is unquestionably a place of extreme and constant violence that cannot be compared to other workplaces.”
Meagan Tyler has also argued that the traditional forms of legalisation and decriminalization do nothing to protect women from high rates of physical and sexual violence, as well as psychological trauma.
“Systems of legalization foster greater demand and create an expanding illegal industry surrounding them, so it is a fallacy to pretend that in localities where prostitution is legalized, all women are actually in legal forms of prostitution. In addition, rates of trauma are similar across legalized, decriminalized and criminalized systems of prostitution.” https://www.feministcurrent.com/2013/12/08/10-myths-about-prostitution-trafficking-and-the-nordic-model/
In fact there is valid research which shows that men who men who buy sex are more likely to hold degrading views of women, have misogynist attitudes and therefore are more likely “to commit sexually coercive acts and other acts of violence against women”.
Violence is a part of prostitution.
“STILL, PROSTITUTION in itself means violence. All organizations working for the rights of prostituted women – whatever their opinion on prostitution is and wherever they’re located in the world – agree that prostitution is dangerous/harmful for women in prostitution. Those who want prostitution to keep existing usually speak of “harm reduction”, i.e. that it’s important to reduce the damage inflicted in prostitution.”
- Legalising prostitution only benefits pimps, traffickers, and sex buyers.
Mary Sullivan has successfully shown that legislation in Victoria has created a ‘prostitution culture’. In which it is the government, financial institutions and sex industry which financially benefit from prostitution industry. Their growth in profits from prostitution allows them greater economic power, gaining from the sexual exploitation of women.
“Legalisation has offered nothing for women caught up in this system of exploitation. Legitimising prostitution as work has simply worked to normalise the violence and sexual abuse that they experience on a daily basis. Victoria must not be seen as a model for other countries attempting to deal with the escalating trade in women and children for sex. Legalised prostitution is government-sanctioned abuse of women and violates their right to equality and safety.”
“Today sex trade is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world. It includes street prostitution, brothels, “massage parlors”, strip clubs, human trafficking for sexual purposes, phone sex, child and adult pornography, mail order brides and sex tourism – just to mention a few of the most common examples.”
It has also led to the growth of illegal activities within the prostitution industry. Illegal prostitution is more lucrative and profitable, and there is the ability to hide such illegal activities within legalised prostitution. https://www.kvinnofronten.nu/eng/speaking-of-prostitution.htm
- Legalising prostitution does not remove the stigma.
It has been argued by those who support the full decimalization of the buying of women’s bodies that such legislation will remove the stigma of prostitution.
This is not the case.
“In the Netherlands, Germany, parts of Australia, and Nevada in the States, where prostitution is already viewed as “sex work”, women in prostitution are still just as stigmatized as they are here.
The ones not getting stigmatized there are instead the perpetrators – pimps/brothel owners and buyers – who now have been turned into respectable “business men” and their “clients”. ”
- Legalisation or decriminalisation of the entire industry expands prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation.
“The most conservative official statistics suggest that 1 in 7 prostitutes in Europe are victims of trafficking, while some Member States estimate that between 60% and 90% of those in their respective national prostitution markets have been trafficked. Moreover, the data available confirm that most trafficking in Europe is for the purposes of sexual exploitation, principally of women and girls.”p.6
On the other hand, under Swedish legislation, also known as the Nordic model where the selling of sex has been decriminalized and the buying of sex is criminalized –
“According to official evaluations, this seems to have effectively reduced demand and deterred traffickers.”
- Sex trafficking and prostitution regularly affects children; when legalised, even more so.
As with sex trafficking, child prostitution occurs in all sectors of the prostitution industry.
“ECPAT reported that Victoria has around 1,800 children used in commercial sex. This is the highest number for all Australian states and territories (ECPAT 1998, p.32). We need to ask why a state that promotes itself as having among the most advanced regulation for the prostitution industry in Australia, and possibly the world, has the largest child prostitution trade in the country?” df
INTERNATIONAL STUDIES show that the most common age of entering prostitution is early adolescence, around 14 years of age. This is confirmed by the Prostitution Unit of Stockholm.
“The basis for prostitution is sexual abuse of children. The majority of all who are bought in prostitution have suffered other forms of sexual abuse before entering prostitution, and the debut age of prostitution is often around 14 years. “
- Indigenous Women
There are studies which suggest that Indigenous women are in higher proportions of numbers in prostitution. This can be directly linked to social and cultural disadvantage and oppression that Indigenous women experience in Australian culture. https://eprints.batchelor.edu.au/297/1/Homelessness_Report_v2_1_Print.pdf ‘Captains’ and ‘Selly-welly’:
“In doing so, it has revealed the extent of the atrocious life conditions experienced by this population, in particular, by women, who both endured and perpetrated violence. Women did not perceive there to be safe places for them to live and nor did they view police and police spaces as necessarily safe alternatives. This study has also revealed that women among this population were routinely subjected to sexual assault and rape from a range of perpetrators – one of the most significant findings to emerge.
The study concluded that Aboriginal women’s involvement in prostitution reflected Racial oppression and disempowerment.”
For a recent article please read: Legalized Prostitution in Australia: Behind the Scenes
and to NORMAC, Nordic Model in Australia Coalition
The Nordic Model Australia Coalition has been established to educate, to disseminate information, promote and research Nordic Model laws on prostitution, and in particular, for
- The decriminalisation of all prostituted persons
- The criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services
- The education of the community, and particular men, about the harms of prostitution and the value of women.
- The ongoing investigation and prosecution of crimes involving trafficking and sexual exploitation of the vulnerable.
- The rejection of any form of commercialisation or corporatisation of the sex industry.
- The provision of holistic exit programs for prostituted persons, including sustainable long-term funding.