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Next year state elections are an opportunity for Tasmanians to affect change for women’s rights.

Last year after the sexual assault reports following the Falls Festival, we saw The Examiner running The Hands Off campaign.[1]

The campaign stimulated an important public discussion, acknowledged the existence of sexual violence against women and the effect it has on women in our community, and identified the need for education and awareness on the subject.

The urgency to create legislative frameworks to reduce violence against women and children was felt nationally by the Women’s Forum Australia, who drafted a detailed, well researched submission to the National Council back in 2008. [2]

In this landmark document, Melinda Tankard Reist identifies the main cultural influences on sexual violence perpetuated against women:

• Pornography, which promotes the acceptance of male dominance and female submission and leads some men to believe that women find forceful sex or rape exciting.

• The global sex trade, including prostitution and sex trafficking of women and children to feed male demand for paid sex.

• Sexualisation and objectification of women in popular culture.

Sexual violence against women is not some mysterious, hard to identify issue as we have been made to believe. It is time we address it via cultural and legislative means.

Next year’s election is an opportunity for all parties to act bravely and look at the latest research and recommendations from around the world:

• The Nordic Model for prostitution, in which buyers of women are penalised, but women are not and sufficient financial means are offered to support women wanting to exit prostitution.[3]

• Harsher sentencing for sex crimes (assault, harassment, exploitation and rape) and for accessing hard pornography and any exploitative material containing the images of children.

• A Civil Rights approach to address harm done to women by pornography, including reclassification, censorship of internet pornography, prohibition of production and distribution of materials involving sex with minors, rape and incest.

Yesterday, October the 5th is a Day of No Prostitution. On this day Anti Sex Trade activists in Tasmania ask all Members of the Legislative Council and all political parties to take the issue of violence against women seriously and lead Tasmanians towards a better future for our daughters and granddaughters.

References:

[1] http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4461030/hands-off-campaign-for-social-reform/
[2] file:///C:/Users/muz/Downloads/National+council+to+reduce+violence+against+women.pdf
[3] http://www.catwa.org.au/the-nordic-model/

*Joanna Pinkiewicz is an independent organiser and researcher in the area of Women’s Rights and environmental issues. She recently joined The Nordic Model Coalition Australia to assist in advocating for a third way approach to legislating prostitution. She gained experience in community organising and direct action while working on protecting natural habitats of old growth forests and river systems. In her research she founds links between exploitation of natural resources and sexual exploitation of women. The two seemingly separate issues have common socio-economic links and she believes both require cultural and legislative changes. She is also an artist working on the themes of connection to place and exhibiting regularly in Tasmania.