06/10/15 – Expunging prostitution convictions essential for those exiting the sex trade

MEDIA RELEASE

In recognition of International Day of No Prostitution on 5 October 2015, the Nordic Model Australia Coalition (NorMAC) has written to Attorney Generals and Justice Ministers from each of Australia’s states and territories calling on them to expunge criminal records for people in prostitution, in particular historical charges that relate to solicitation and street prostitution.

In some American states – for example New York – the criminal records of people trafficked into prostitution have been expunged. NorMAC wants to see something similar here in Australia, along with recognition that interpretation of the term ‘trafficked’ needs to be broadened insofar as it refers to prostitution.

NorMAC recognises that coercion into prostitution takes many forms, many of which do not satisfy the definition of overt force. A number of factors can contribute to a person selling sex, including socio-economic pressures.

Evidence consistently shows that many persons in prostitution have been exposed to sexual assault and exploitation prior to entering the sex trade. Indigenous women and migrant women are also at greater risk of entering prostitution as a means of survival.

‘It is well documented that the majority of people in prostitution are there due to limited choices and financial disadvantage. Charges and criminal convictions against these people perpetuate discrimination and stigmatisation, ultimately entrenching them in the sex trade’, said NorMAC director and prostitution survivor, Simone Watson.

‘Most women in prostitution want out and expunging their criminal records is one way governments can give them real options, particularly in a society where police and safety checks are increasingly required for employment’, she said.

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