For release: 31st March 2011

[caption id="attachment_5859" align="alignright" width="283" caption="The story reported in The Age"][/caption]

The Australian Christian Lobby said a report in today’s Melbourne Age revealing

human trafficking in legal brothels, is further proofthat attempts to make prostitution safe through regulation have failed.

ACL’s human trafficking spokeswoman Michelle Pearse said she is not surprised by the news that underage women are working in Victoria and that the licensed industry is being investigated as part of a human trafficking inquiry.

It comes as a Parliamentary inquiry is underway in the ACT following the tragic death of a 17-year-old girl of a drug overdose in a legal brothel.

“The British Government’s 2004 Home Office Report into prostitution[i] criticised Victoria’s legalisation of the sex trade when it said that Australian licensing schemes ‘have failed to deliver the safe working environment that they set out to achieve’,” she said.

“It’s clear that legalising brothels does not make prostitution safer because prostitution in itself is harmful to women.  The best alternative is to support prostituted women to leave the exploitative trade and to tackle the demand – the men who purchase prostituted women,” she said.

“This is not a new idea, in fact overseas in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and South Korea, the governments have introduced a model that criminalises the purchase of sex – because it sees it as a human rights issue.

“The scheme has been very successful and in Sweden, for example, the Swedish police said last year in the report Prohibition of the purchase of sexual services[ii] that the ban on the purchase of sexual services acts as a barrier to human traffickers and procurers who are considering establishing themselves in Sweden,” Ms Pearse said.

“It’s clear that this law has affected the demand for prostituted women and therefore the amount of women trafficked into the country.  It’s the only model that lessens the amount of women exploited in prostitution,” she said.

The Australian Christian Lobby is calling for the Victorian and other State and Territory Governments to fix the broken system and to criminalise the purchase of sex everywhere so that men cannot legally 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,” Ms Pearse said.

Media Contact: Katherine Spackman on 0408 875 979