Today I have been in Darwin presenting to a parliamentary hearing into their proposed Sex Industry Bill.
I listened while panel members discussed how advertising would be handled under the proposed Bill. They spoke of the need for clients to know what the product is they are getting. The product is people.
The Bill normalises the objectification of mainly women. The proposed Bill entrenches women and children as commercial products and will never achieve their safety or wellbeing.
As I addressed the panel I said what everyone intuitively knows. Prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanising. It perpetuates inequality and it fuels sex trafficking.
30% of the population in the Northern Territory is Indigenous, but the Aboriginal elders have not been consulted on this Bill.
In the public “Have Your Say” consultation on whether or not prostitution should be decriminalised in the Northern Territory, 65% said no. This reflects the unique challenges in the NT including the exploitation of homeless vulnerable women, Aboriginal women and Aboriginal minors.
Any legislative change regarding prostitution must address the reasons that drive women into the industry.
Survivor from prostitution, Ally-Marie Diamond, told her story. A panel member acknowledged that her childhood abuse had predisposed her to enter the sex trade. The next question was not how women like her could be helped to exit the sex trade; it was – how they could make it safer for women like her. This is akin to asking a woman experiencing domestic abuse how best to help her stay safely in the abuse.
The vast majority of women in prostitution want out, but cannot do it alone.
We will continue to be a voice for the voiceless.