Tuesday, 14th August, 2012

The Australian Christian Lobby said Tasmania Police had missed an opportunity to promote long-lasting change for the community by backing the legalisation and regulation of the sex industry in its submission to the Justice Department consultation on prostitution.

ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said Queensland Police had adopted a similar approach prior to brothels being legalised in that state in 1999, but by any measure this approach had been a failure.

“Ninety-percent of prostitution remains unregulated in Queensland despite assurances that it would protect those involved in the trade,” Mr Brown said.

“Legalising brothels only leads to an increase in the number of women involved in prostitution, both legal and illegal. Even in the legal sector, the high risks associated with prostitution can never be eliminated.”

Mr Brown said we should never give legislative license to a trade that exposed women to such high rates of physical and sexual violence.

“In what other industry are 60-75 per cent of the workers raped, 70-95 per cent physically assaulted and 68 per cent sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder in the same range as ‘treatment seeking combat veterans’?” Mr Brown said.

“The only approach to the sex trade that has been proven to reduce the demand for prostitution, and therefore the number of vulnerable women and children trapped in the trade, was the Nordic approach,” Mr Brown said.

First implemented in Sweden, this approach criminalises the purchaser of sex and seeks to free women from the inherently harmful and exploitative trade.

“The success of this approach is clear by its adoption in other countries such as Norway, Iceland, and South Korea,” Mr Brown said.

Although this approach was at first met with criticism by the Swedish police, they now consider that the approach works well and has led to a reduction in illegal prostitution and sex trafficking.

Mr Brown said there is no evidence to suggest the Nordic approach has driven sex work “underground” as claimed by some submitters to the Justice Department consultation.