*Pic: Photo credit: Lynn Savarese. Ruchira Gupta is the Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide – a grassroots organization in India working to end sex trafficking by increasing choices for at-risk girls and women. She has striven over her 25 year career to highlight the link between trafficking and prostitution laws, and to lobby policy makers to shift blame from victims to perpetrators.
The Abbott government’s budget attack on welfare recipients, particularly young disadvantaged persons, will see an unwelcome surge in the number of young unemployed women and single mothers moving into prostitution as a means of supporting themselves and their families.
Prostitution will become an option of last resort for unknown numbers of young people – men, women and children – if Mr Abbott’s proposed cuts to welfare are successful. Rather than looking at ways to legalise or decriminalise prostitution, the government needs to address the underlying disadvantage that forces people sell their bodies for money.
Prostitution and sex trafficking are booming worldwide, with the average age of young girls entering prostitution often being as young as 13 or 14. We need to support these women and girls and give them options other than prostitution. This means access to well-funded social and educational programs and adequate welfare.
They shouldn’t be at the mercy of pimps and brothel owners whose only interest is in the almighty dollar.
Mr Abbott needs to answer to some serious questions about the consequences of his budget:
• Is his government’s budget going to increase the ranks of the prostituted class in Australia, cost cutting/competition in the prostitution market, and the illegal brothel sector and trafficking?
• Does he accept that unemployed people should prostitute themselves in order to survive, especially those he intends to cut off from Newstart or single mothers benefit or any other benefit?
• Will he fund exit programs in all states to help women out of the most high risk and harmful industry to girls and women (mainly), an industry that is now considered to be out of control in Australia?
• Mr Abbott, would you want one of your daughters to have no choice but to prostitute herself in order to survive?
The Abbott Government needs to urgently allocate funds to properly resource Exit Programs in all states of Australia to enable women (mainly) who want to leave the sex trade to do so safely.