The Australian Tour of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls has come to an end. In the last two-and-a-half weeks the documentary, which exposes the disturbing trends in modern sex slavery, has been screened in major cities across Australia including Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="324" caption="Exodus Cry's Laila Mickelwait (right) with ACL's Wendy Francis (left) in Queensland"][/caption]

More than 1400 people attended these screenings with many people walking away with a greater understanding of the need to be, in the words of William Wilberforce, an “Incurable Fanatic”. The film’s writer, producer and director Benjamin Nolot travelled to countries including Moldova, the Netherlands, South East Asia, America and Sweden to document the problem of sex slavery and the link between sex trafficking and legal prostitution.

During each screening Exodus Cry’s Laila Mickelwait, who is the Director of Awareness and Prevention, encouraged the audience to share what they’ve learned, to pray about the issue whenever they are at a red stop light (a play on the phrase ‘red light district’) and to financial support the work of those who seek to continue to fight against the injustice.

The ACL is grateful to the work of Exodus Cry in producing this film which helps give a greater understanding of the “Swedish Model”. The ACL has been advocating for Australia state governments to consider it as the preferred model of positive reform which criminalises the purchase of sex.

During this time it was encouraging to hear the news that the Prostitution Bill in WA is not likely to pass when it’s due to be debated this year (see WA Prostitution Bill dead in the Water). The bill proposes to ban prostitution from residential areas and license them to operate in other locations. Although motivated by good intentions to remove prostitution from the suburbs, this approach has failed in other states of Australia and only serves to legitimise the exploitation of women.

There was also news at this time of the NSW Government launching a sex-trafficking inquiry of Korean women to Australia (see NSW Government launches sex-trafficking Inquiry).

At the same time, it was with disappointment that the ACT government handed down its report into the Prostitution Act 1992 and recommended further operation of prostitution in the suburbs. (See media release ACT Govt feeding demand for trafficked women).

Meanwhile, this documentary has come at a pivotal time in Tasmanian politics as the state government at the start of this year released a discussion paper on prostitution reform (see our Women are Worth More campaign). Submissions to that campaign close the 23rd of March (please make a submission if you haven't already). One of the options it has included in the discussion paper is the “Swedish Model”. Both Laila Mickelwait and the ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown had several opportunities to talk about the benefits of this model in Tasmanian media earlier this week. See for example Laila’s interview with ABC Morning’s Presenter Leon Compton on Monday – A New approach to Prostitution and also Mark Brown’s interview with Ultra106.5 fm

Overall, this tour has been another important opportunity to sow seeds about seeing real prostitution reform. If you missed an opportunity to watch the film it will be available to purchase from Exodus Cry on May 1st. We’ve also heard news that Easterfest 2012 is planning to host a screening at the musical festival over the Easter weekend and other churches and conferences are also planning to host a screening.