The Australian Christian Lobby has long asserted that legalising brothels will open the doors for sex traffickers. The best way to prevent trafficking is adopting the pro-women Nordic model of prostitution law reform.

By contrast, a decriminalised regime in Victoria leads to oppression of women as demonstrated by fresh revelations of sex slavery based on the AFP investigations. The ACL is horrified that women are being held as prisoners in brothels.

AFP ­Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said, “There are brothels that we are aware of that they are physically locked in. They are not allowed to leave. Or if they are allowed to leave, they have to be escorted at all times by somebody that is an employee. That is a reasonably common scenario.” Det. Supt. Crossling also said that many women were held in “debt bondage” situations and had their passports seized by brothel operators. Police have also estimated there are illegal brothels in every Melbourne suburb, including near schools and children centres.

“This finding should be a grave concern for the government and the general public as an inquiry into decriminalising prostitution, to be led by Fiona Patten MLC, will be launched this year,” said ACL spokesperson Jasmine Yuen. The inquiry seeks to decriminalise sex work in order to achieve better public health and human rights outcomes. “Unfortunately, decriminalising prostitution will only plunge sex workers into further oppression and slavery,” added Mrs Yuen.

The ACL calls for the Victorian Government to adopt the Nordic Model of prostitution law reform that decriminalises selling sex, but criminalises buying sex to provide better protection for sex workers. This Model will also provide a major power shift away from the pimps (brothel operators) and johns (the buyers), and allow sex workers opportunities to get out of prostitution.