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SA: Your opposition was heard for decriminalising prostitution

Wendy Francis and I recently had the privilege of representing you before the SA Legislative Council Select Committee into the Statues Amendment (Repeal of Sex Work Offences) Bill 2020. This is the 14th attempt to decriminalise prostitution in SA.

In my opening statement, I said, “This bill should be more appropriately titled ‘The facilitation of pimps’ or ‘The pimps’ protection act’. It does little, we say, for prostituted men or women.” And that is the truth.

Wendy Francis was also strong in her arguments against the bill. She began by saying, 

“This bill is poorly conceived. It relies on weak research, it is outdated and it is ignoring global best practice. All robust evidence leads to an understanding that full decriminalisation of prostitution does not reduce harm. Instead, jurisdictions that have decriminalised commercial sex experience a surge in human trafficking, pimping and other related crimes.”

Wendy shared evidence from the NSW Parliamentary Committee on the regulation of brothels, which revealed significant criminal involvement in the sex services industry. “Around 40 NSW brothels recorded connections to outlaw motorcycle gangs as well as numerous reports of links to Asian organised crime,” she explained.

There were also authoritative submissions to the Committee from the UK All Party Parliamentary Working Group, and Associate Professor Joanne Thompson, both opposed the bill.  

The Committee secretariat had listed all 421 submissions you made earlier this year, in response to our campaign, as one submission. This allowed supporters of the bill to say that about two-thirds of the submissions were in favour of the bill. I pointed out that in fact, “There were 548 submissions; 447 against the bill and 61 for it.” 

Thank you to all who wrote in. Your submissions certainly strengthened our argument! 

You may read our oral submissions here.

On the same day Ros Phillips (who was involved in opposing each of the last 13 attempts to decriminalise prostitution in SA) and a young woman Ashlyn also gave evidence against the bill. It was good to see the grand dame keeping on, and to see one of her replacements step up to the plate. The work of standing for truth and the vulnerable is in good hands.

You should also be aware that Commissioner Grant Stevens wrote to the Committee on 21 June expressing SAPOL’s opposition to the full decriminalisation of prostitution in SA. The Commissioner said that reduced or no regulation of prostitution is “highly likely to facilitate serious and organised crime infiltration, bringing with it the associated community harm such as:

SAPOL’s position is unchanged from 2019. It must be respected. You can read the Commissioner’s letter here.

Friends, let’s not grow weary. This is a dangerous bill that will harm lives, so it’s important to keep praying that it will be rejected.

The Committee continues its hearings and will probably deliver its final report later this year.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58

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