The Mercury’s Adult Services section is now running advertisements for ‘natural’ sexual services.  ‘Natural’ is code for sex, whether oral, vaginal or anal, without a condom or other protective device.

Tasmanian women’s organisation, Women Speak Tasmania, has expressed concern that these advertisements are offering services that directly contravene the provisions of the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 (Tas).

‘Natural’ services pose an obvious risk to the health of the women involved, and the potential for spread of STIs in the wider community as result of these practices is a significant public health concern.

It is well-documented that the incidence of STIs is increasing Australia-wide.

Women in the sex trade are often pressured to provide unprotected sex, despite it being illegal to do so.  These advertisements make it clear that the law is being blatantly ignored.

Women Speak Tasmania has written to the Attorney-General, Elise Archer, and the Minister for Health and Police, Michael Ferguson, expressing concerns about this matter.

Mr Ferguson responded today, saying he had referred the matter to Tasmania Police.  He acknowledged that the provision of unprotected sexual services was illegal in Tasmania – see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-04/sex-workers-selling-unprotected-sex/10337624.

Why has Tasmania Police not already investigated these advertisements, which have been running in the Mercury for some months? – see https://tasmaniantimes.com/2018/09/mercury-advertises-sex/#comment-220158.

Is the police service effectively enforcing the provisions of the Sex Industry Offences Act?

If they can ignore activities that could potentially have a negative impact on public health, are they also failing to police other aspects of the sex trade in Tasmania?  Where is their accountability?

Do they report on offences against the Act and their responses?  How can we be assured that women in the sex trade, and the community at large are being protected as intended by the law?

Bronwyn Williams  is a retired lawyer and social worker.