The Prostitution Bill 2011 was not debated in the Western Australia Parliament before its close last Thursday. There are now a few months until the bill could be debated, which would be during the parliamentary sitting week starting 21st Feb. This means we still have the opportunity to express our concerns to local MPs. I am aware that many of you may have received an email response from your local MP, and I really appreciate being contacted regarding this. In light of this email, please keep the following in mind when you approach your local MP:

  • As to the legal status of prostitution: According to current legislation, the act of prostitution itself is not illegal. However, ‘living off’ the profits of prostitution is illegal, as is managing and operating brothels. Thus, in theory, anyone who profits from prostitution is breaking the law. Perhaps ask your MP how much one must make in order to qualify as ‘living off’ prostitution.

  • The new bill seeks to give considerable powers to law enforcement agencies in shutting down illegal brothels. However, there exists such power already, so this new legislation is simply spelling out what is already there. The problem is that the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) views the prosecution of brothel owners as ‘not in the public interest’ resulting in the prosecution of only one case in the last ten years. Inquiries as to how the new legislation will change this view held by the DPP should be welcomed by your local MP.

  • If the current government really is concerned about the wellbeing of all the girls and women of Western Australia, not just those involved in prostitution, the purchase of sex should be made illegal, not given the government’s blessing and moved out of sight. Many nations around the world are beginning to realise this and are criminalising the purchase of sex, with France being the latest to consider the move.

Please continue to be understanding and courteous towards our MPs and treat them with honour and respect in your correspondence.