Recently proposed prostitution law reform in WA will see women continue to be ‘legally exploited’ in ‘tolerated zones’. Tolerated zones should not be tolerated because prostitution is exploitation of women . . . everywhere.

Last week, WA Attorney-General Christian Porter proposed plans to ban prostitution from residential areas and limit brothels to a small number of locations, as well as expand police powers to shut down illegal brothels.

Action: The Attorney-General’s office is calling for public comment before the release of a draft bill early next year. Please visit our ‘Women are worth more’ campaign at www.makeastand.org.au where you will find all the information you need to send a short submission to the consultation and write an email to your local member.

A government who legitimises prostitution through legalisation is legitimising the exploitation and abuse of women. Mr Porter’s plan to license brothels in certain areas will mean that women will continue to be legally exploited through the sex trade.

Although motivated by good intentions to limit the trade, legalising prostitution is an approach that has failed in other Australian states. In Queensland for example, the State Government had a similar plan to license and regulate the sex trade, but after ten years they have only managed to regulate 10% of it, whilst 90% remains illegal.

The US Department of State says that human trafficking for sexual purposes is driven by the demand for prostituted women, and as long as countries allow this demand to grow, human trafficking will continue to be a problem.

Prostitution is not a necessary evil, as the Attorney-General believes, but should be recognised as harmful, abusive and exploitative of women. The Swedish Parliament did just that over ten years ago, with a law that targeted demand by making it a crime to purchase sex.

As a result, Sweden reduced the number of women involved in prostitution, and reduced the number of men purchasing sex by 80%. The number of women trafficked into Sweden dropped to just 400 compared to nearly 17,000 in neighbouring Finland. This is a much, much better approach, which really does help women and provide clarity to the police.

Rather than legalising brothels, the WA Government should be providing greater support for women so they are not forced into prostitution in the first place. It should also provide exit strategies for those women who are desperate to start a better life.

Please take action by sending a short submission to the consultation and email your local member through our ‘Women are worth more’ campaign at www.makeastand.org.au. This should only take a few minutes but is worth the effort because women are worth more.