Media Release

For release: June 14, 2011

The Western Australia’s Attorney General’s draft prostitution bill will not keep prostitution out of suburbs but will allow for the expansion of the illegal industry as has been seen in other parts of Australia, Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) state director Michelle Pearse said today.

“I question why our government wants to follow the failed Queensland model which proves that it is impossible to regulate brothels. Research from the University of Queensland estimates that 90 per cent of the brothels in Queensland are still illegal, even after the government set up the Prostitution Licensing Authority to regulate the industry,” Ms Pearse said.

Whilst ACL commends the government’s plans to prosecute customers outside of the tolerated zones, it is concerned that by allowing legal zones to operate at all will contribute to a growing number of men purchasing sex.

“It will be impossible to confine prostitution to certain zones when there is an increasing number of men purchasing sex.  As long as there is a legal industry, men will continue to assume the right to exploit women by purchasing them for sex,” Ms Pearse said.

“Research shows that many women in prostitution are raped, physically assaulted and threatened, and one study showed that 68 per cent of prostituted women suffered post traumatic stress disorder,” she said.

ACL believes that if the government was serious about getting prostitution out of the suburbs, then the government would tackle the demand which is the cause of the prostitution problem.

“The key is to tackle the demand, to send a strong message to men that it is not ok to purchase a woman’s body for sex because it is exploitation,” Ms Pearse said.

“Penalties on the purchaser would be a deterrent and discourage men from using prostitutes.  This would mean that less women would be exploited in the industry and less illegal brothels would exist in suburbs which is not only better for community safety but is also better for the women who are exploited in prostitution,” she said.

The Australian Christian Lobby wants the state government to expand the proposed reforms to criminalise the purchase of sex everywhere so that men are not encouraged to exploit women.

“Community safety will only be achieved when the government recognises that prostitution is exploitation and seeks the safety of those in prostitution as well as the wider community,” she said.