November 2, 2011

 WA Politicians should not pass Prostitution Bill

The Australian Christian Lobby is urging West Australian politicians not to pass the Prostitution Bill 2011, which has been introduced in state parliament today.

ACL spokeswoman Michelle Pearse said that keeping prostitution out of the suburbs but allowing it to be legal in “tolerated zones” won’t stop the expansion of the illegal industry, as has been seen in other parts of Australia which legalised prostitution.

“The Queensland Government legalised brothel prostitution in 1999 and research from the University of Queensland estimates that 90 per cent of prostitution in Queensland is still illegal[i], even after the government set up the Prostitution Licensing Authority to regulate the industry,” Ms Pearse said.

“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.

The ACL said a government who legitimises prostitution through legalisation is legitimising the exploitation and abuse of women.

“A report by the US Bureau of Public Affairs cited a study into the trauma prostituted women face and revealed that 60-75 per cent of women in prostitution were raped, 70-95 per cent were physically assaulted and 68 per cent had post traumatic stress disorder in the same range as ‘treatment seeking combat veterans’[ii]. Why would the WA Government sanction an industry where this occurs?” Ms Pearse said.

Instead of legalising the industry, the ACL is calling on the government to shut down all brothels and implement a law similar to Sweden’s, which penalises the buyer rather than the women who are exploited in the industry.

This model is now being adopted by several European countries and South Korea.

“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 fewer women would be exploited in the industry and fewer 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.

“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.

The Prostitution Bill 2011 also ignores the fact that many legal brothels in eastern states were using trafficked women, as highlighted in recent media reports.