"It is one matter for children not to know their genetic identity as a result of unintended circumstances. It is quite another matter to deliberately destroy children's links to their biological parents, and especially for society to be complicit in this destruction."
Earlier this month, ACL's Queensland director Wendy Francis gave evidence at the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee's inquiry on strategies to prevent and reduce criminal activity in the state.
She spoke about the link between sex trafficking and legalised prostitution, and advocated for the government to consider adopting the Nordic model of prostitution, which criminalises the purchase of sex and targets the demand of prostitution.
"Legalised prostitution has a known correlation to increased illegal prostitution, illegal brothels, sex trafficking and under-age prostitution, and it is also related to higher rates of other types of crime, including organised crime...involving drugs, overstaying of visas, sexual servitude and exploitation of minors. Several brothels in Sydney and three in Melbourne have been found to be associated with international trafficking and sex slavery," Ms Francis argued.
At the inquiry, she made four requests:
Ms Francis said research showed women are looking to exit prostitution.
"Research in New Zealand would show that more than two-thirds—and some would even say four-fifths—of women who are in the prostitution trade want out but they do not see a way out. Once they have been used to that degree, particularly those who are there against their will, they feel worthless. They do not believe that there is an out for them...I feel very sure that there are NGOs who would work alongside the government in this area," she said.
Ms Francis told the committee about her experience visiting Sweden earlier this year with a parliamentary delegation to investigate the Nordic prostitution model which targets the buyers of prostitution.
Ms Francis said the effect of the prostitution law has changed attitudes to violence against women.
"The normative effect of a woman being available as an object for somebody to purchase has changed in their psyche. Over 10 years we have seen the normative effect of there being much more respect for equality in their country in the same way that it has taken decades to make it normative now for us not to smoke because we see it as a health issue."
Ms Francis said the Nordic approach encourages vulnerable trafficked persons to seek help.
“[trafficked women can get help in Sweden] because they are seen as the victim. They are seen as the person who has had a crime committed against them. In Sweden we are finding that the prostitutes who are operating—and it is illegal to purchase sex—are never prosecuted; they are only helped whereas here in Brisbane 90 per cent of our prostitution is illegal. So a girl ringing and saying, ‘I’m being abused by somebody who is prostituting me’, the guy—I am going to say guy because it usually is—will find that there is absolutely no problem at all; he is seen to have done nothing wrong. However, it is the girl who is actually the one who is going to be prosecuted,” she said.
You can also read ACL’s written submission to the inquiry by following this link.
Upon her return from Sweden, Ms Francis spoke to ACL’s Katherine Spackman about what she learned on the trip. Listen to the interview here.
The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the public apology by Wicked Campers for its inappropriate slogans but says harsher penalties need to be introduced to prevent re-offending.
ACL’s spokesperson on the dignity of women Wendy Francis said that although the campervan company has apologised for the latest slogan “In every princess, there’s a little slut who wants to try it”, it’s important for state governments to recognise the urgent need of law reform to keep outdoor advertising in line with community standards.
“Although an apology from Wicked Campers is a welcome move, what’s stopping the company from again plastering sexist and misogynistic material on their vans in a year’s time?” Ms Francis said.
“The self-regulatory system of outdoor advertising is clearly not working. Our children and young people will continue to be exposed to sexualised and degrading content in our public space if penalties are not introduced on companies like Wicked Campers and future offenders,” Ms Francis said.
The promise by Wicked Campers to remove slogans of an “insensitive nature” on their vans over the next six months is again another failure to the community.
“Objectifying and degrading women is a serious matter. If Wicked Campers truly understood this, they would remove the slogans immediately, not wait six months to do so,” she said.
“The sexualisation of our everyday environment is contributing to a culture where there is an increase in sexual assaults, eating disorders in young children, and depression.
“Many sexist slogans, including those Wicked Campers have been responsible for, promote violence against women, which is sadly a massive problem in our country.
“A report published in the Lancet medical journal earlier this year revealed that incidents of sexual violence against women in Australia is more than double the global average,” Ms Francis said.
The recent uproar against the campervan company was triggered over the weekend when a Sydney mother launched an online petition after her 11-year-old daughter spotted the latest slogan on a van in the Blue Mountains.
The change.org petition to “Eliminate misogynistic and degrading slogans and imagery” has reached over 127,000 signatures to date.
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