Media Release

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today called on the NSW Government to rethink its failed brothel laws with the aim of ending the exploitation of women in the sex trade and protecting the amenity and character of local communities.

ACL’s spokesperson on women’s issues, Michelle Pearse, said newly released information from the Government Interagency Brothels Taskforce confirmed that the sex trade is out of control in NSW – not only damaging communities but doing tremendous harm to the women and children caught up in the exploding industry.

“Legislation to decriminalise brothels 15 years ago and then regulate them just as a planning issue has been a complete failure which – as we have been saying for some time – has led to a massive expansion in the sex trade, which in turn has devastating effects on women and children as well as increasing sex trafficking to Sydney,” Ms Pearse said.

“It is time for the NSW Government to completely review these laws – giving councils the right to ban brothels for social concerns and considering better ways of managing prostitution such as the successful ‘Swedish model’.

“The current situation in NSW is solely catering to the interests of pimps, brothel owners and men who buy women for sex. Behind the scenes the story is one of women facing appalling exploitation and sexual violence, underage girls having their lives ruined and sex slaves being brought to Sydney to cater to the increased demand.

“By marked contrast the ‘Swedish model’ provides a far better alternative. It has been shown to significantly reduce the number of women involved in prostitution and the number of men purchasing sex.”

Ms Pearse said that Sweden came to realise that legalising the sex trade had resulted in a major increase in the number of women being trafficked into the country. By 1999 the Swedish Government dramatically altered its position by taking the view that buying sex promotes exploitation and is violence against women. The Government therefore decided to criminalise the purchase of sex and the ownership of brothels.

“The new laws saw the number of women involved in prostitution cut by two-thirds, reduced the number of men buying sex by 80 per cent, and led to a huge drop in the number of women trafficked into the country for sexual purposes,” Ms Pearse said.

“This is the way of the future for jurisdictions who want to see an end to the exploitation and crime which go hand-in-hand with decriminalised brothels. We strongly urge the NSW Government to review the State’s brothel laws and give close consideration to the Swedish model.”