Survivors, International and National Women’s Human Rights groups and individuals today sent a letter to ALP members calling on them to reject Young Labor’s policy on decriminalisation of the sex trade being debated at the ALP state conference in Queenstown this weekend.
Signatories to the letter opposed any further deregulation of the sex industry. Contrary to Young Labor’s claims, introduction of legislation allowing brothels in other jurisdictions has resulted in increased violence, degradation and coercion to those in the sex trade, making it more difficult to gain legal justice.
What we know from Survivors and international research is that when third parties can profit from women being bought for sex, violence to women, organised crime and sex trafficking increases. Knowing the truth about the violence to women when being bought for sex - we reject outright the notion that this can be termed ‘sex work’. International developments and research on the global sex trade tells us that it is impossible to achieve what Young Labor are asking for as normal ‘sex worker’ rights. But Young Labor appear intent on ignoring this evidence and meanwhile many rank and file Labor members are in the dark about the success of Nordic model laws.
The letter states; Having a caste of women set aside for the sexual service of males has a wider impact on men’s attitudes to all women at all levels of society. This was echoed recently when Australian barrister, and human rights and refugee advocate, Julian Burnside AO QC stated; “Prostitution affects all women because it affects the way men regard women”.’
Research by Professor Malamuth from the University of California and Los Angeles, profiled men who buy sex and found a correlation between sexual purchase and other forms of sexual violence. Professor Malamuth, said – ‘Our findings indicate that men who buy sex share certain key characteristics with men who are at risk for committing sexual aggression. Both groups tend to have a preference for impersonal sex, a fear of rejection by women, a history of having committed sexually aggressive acts and a hostile masculine self-identification. Those who buy sex, on average, have less empathy for women in prostitution and view them as intrinsically different from other women’.
In November 2013 a petition with 2,910 signatures of formerly prostituted people and their advocates was presented to the NZ Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Committee calling for introduction of Nordic model laws as decriminalisation had failed to protect ‘sex workers’.
By 2014 media reports noted that violence and abuse of women in prostitution had remained a common occurrence in Christchurch despite decriminalisation a decade earlier.
In 2015 reports from New Zealand have also claimed major problems in the area of child prostitution with a lack of prosecutions and a number of claims of police sexually exploiting children in prostitution.
There are no decriminalised jurisdictions where there has been effective oversight of the sex industry.
The experience of decriminalising the sex trade has been one of proliferating both the legal and illegal sex industry which has led to increased criminal activity, trafficking and violence against women.
In contrast to the policy being put forward by the Young Labor branch, we would encourage the Tasmanian ALP to follow its many sister political parties internationally which have introduced or are pursuing legislation based on the Nordic Model.
We are giving a wake-up call to the ALP that the doctrine of ‘decriminalisation’ does not work for the sex trade and they need to adopt policies on women that are evidence based not policies contrived for them by ‘sex worker’ front groups.
Some of the signatories to this letter include:
Labour and Greens for The Nordic Model
Dr Ingeborg Kraus, Scientists for a World Without Prostitution, Germany
Linda Thompson, Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation
Lucie Sabau, French feminist and worker at Rape Victims Helpline, Collectif Feminists Contre le Viol
Melinda Tankard Reist, Collective Shout, Australia
Changhye Jo-Ahn, Feminist, South Korea
Angie Conroy, Strey Khmer Organisation, Cambodia
Professor Bob Pease, (UTAS, Discipline Leader, Social Work, School of Social Sciences)
and many others.
*Simone Watson is an Indigenous woman living in Western Australia, and the Director of NorMAC (Nordic Model in Australia Coalition). She is a prostitution survivor and a contributor to the book Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade edited by Caroline Norma and Melinda Tankard Reist.