Despite the abject failure of prostitution legalisation and regulation across Australia, the South Australian parliament will next year consider following the flawed ‘lead’ of the eastern states down the path of legitimising in law the exploitation of vulnerable women.

According to a media report this week, Labor MP and ‘sex worker crusader’ Steph Key has been soliciting support in Parliament for her prostitution Private Members Bill, which is to be presented early next year. And she thinks she has the numbers for the bill to ‘succeed’.

Drawing upon interstate and overseas legislation, the bill will reportedly legalise escort services, allow soliciting on the street and require prostitutes to neither register as sex workers nor be subject to mandatory health checks.

Rather bizarrely, “Ms Key said the Bill was about treating prostitutes and their workplaces the same as all other employees and places of employment”. If this were truly the case prostitution would not require a specific legislative framework, and parents would encourage their daughters to sign up.

Meanwhile, again demonstrating the failure of legalised prostitution, Victorian police have this week been busy shutting down eight illegal brothels located mainly in Melbourne's inner-north. The brothels allegedly have links to illegal immigration and under-age prostitution.

There is a better way to respond to the social ills of prostitution than giving legislative license for men to exploit women for sex. That is the Swedish approach to prostitution reform, which must form part of the SA government’s examination of interstate and overseas prostitution legislation.

The successful Swedish approach views prostitution as a women’s rights issue and criminalises the purchaser of sexual services. After ten years in operation, the Swedish laws have caused human trafficking to decline, and successfully targeted the source of the problem – the demand for paid sex.