The recent Australian Federal Police smashing of a Victorian brothel syndicate exposes the continued failure of the current legalised approach to prostitution and the sex industry in Victoria.

NORMAC (Nordic Model Australia Coalition) spokesperson Matthew Holloway said “We have today written to Victorian Premier Denis Napthine warning him that by failing to review existing prostitution laws more and more women especially, will fall victim to coercion, exploitation and harm from working in both legal and illegal brothels in the state.

“The Australian Federal Police have smashed a prostitution syndicate in Melbourne that has taken wages from over 100 Asian women they ‘managed’ and outsourced to legal brothels. Federal Police have stated that this syndicate operated outside the licensed system and earned $500,000 in the past five months.

“This case shows that despite continual review and numerous recommendations in the recent Inquiry into People Trafficking for Sex Work, the Victorian government has failed to end the exploitation of those involved in the sex industry, or halt the expanding illegal sector operating alongside the legal registered sex industry. People are still falling through the gaps of a licensing framework that clearly does not have the resources or ability to effectively regulate the sex industry.

“The evidence we have seen from Victoria over the past years is consistently showing that the legalised sex industry is merely a window dressing to legitimise a vast illegal empire.

“Legalisation of prostitution in Australian jurisdictions flies in the face of international evidence, which now recognises that legalisation of the sex industry increases the exploitation of prostitutes, especially women, as well as giving a green light to sex trafficking.

“This was highlighted when United Nations official, Joy Ezeilo, recently called on the Victorian government to establish an anti-trafficking unit within Victoria Police.

“NORMAC recognises that the Victorian coalition government has attempted to address exploitation in the sex industry through the recent Inquiry into People Trafficking for Sex Work, but suggests that tinkering with the legalisation framework will not resolve the major issue underlying the sex industry – the inequality present in a transaction which trades money for the use of a human body.”

International evidence shows that Nordic Model legislation, which criminalises those who benefit from the purchase of sex – the pimps and the johns – and decriminalises sex workers, is the only effective way to counter gender inequality and exploitation in the sex industry. In Sweden, where the legislation was first introduced, the incidence of sex trafficking has been lowered significantly.

“NORMAC continues its call on all Australian jurisdictions, to investigate the Nordic model as an effective measure to combat discrimination and exploitation in the sex industry, and the ever-increasing crime of sex trafficking.” said Matt Holloway.

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