Simone Watson, survivor of prostitution and Director of Nordic Model Australia Coalition (NorMAC), has warned that mounting evidence has shown that decriminalisation of the sex trade increases demand from sex buyers, only benefits pimps and profiteers and not women.
While several states in Australia are considering changes to prostitution laws the impacts of the decriminalisation of sex buyers and pimps are being seriously monitored and discussed within the European Union as well as the positive outcomes of asymmetric decriminalisation which decriminalises only the prostituted (the person selling sex).
Simone Watson said “We have provided substantive evidence to the Select Committee of the South Australian Parliament of the failure of decriminalisation in NSW, New Zealand and Germany.”
In April this year The Sydney Morning Herald reported that ‘Complaints about the spread of illegal brothels have jumped by more than a third in Sydney since recommendations to improve industry regulations were blocked by the NSW government last year. Fairfax Media can reveal that since a proposed licensing system and specialist police unit were rejected in May 2016, the City of Sydney has witnessed a 37 per cent increase in reports from disgruntled businesses and members of the public, triggering 80 separate investigations that can take up to two years to complete.’
In New South Wales, a police officer who investigated sex trafficking commented on the effects of decriminalisation “Although the intention was to provide a safe working environment for sex workers the reverse has occurred in that pimps and brothel operators were empowered and enriched.”
Simone Watson said “Evidence from New Zealand also shows that decriminalisation has failed to achieve its aims and has resulted in no improvements in: health including reducing HIV infection rates, the incidence of assault/rape and police reporting, stigma and has led to an increase in sex trafficking of mainly Maori and Pasifika women and street prostitution.”
“We only need to look to Germany where in 2014 over 90 trauma specialists and psychologists have started a campaign to stop the purchase of sex in response to the high rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other harms for prostituted women.”
Given the new research highlighting increased rates of PTSD amongst those bought in the sex trade, the Attorney General needs to see this issue as part of an urgent health crisis in all Australian states and territories, particularly in regard to Indigenous women and children who are disproportionately represented in the sex trade in Australia.
“NorMAC rejects the push by front group for the pimp lobby in South Australia, Sex Industry Network, for full decriminalisation of the sex trade, a move that will only benefit sex buyers, brothel owners and profiteers.”
“What is urgently needed is the decriminalisation of all prostituted people and establishment of unconditional and essential Exit programs now” said Simone Watson.