'Groundhog Day' for Steph Key's brothel billTuesday, March 12, 2013
“South Australians must think it is Groundhog Day, just like the movie,” FamilyVoice national research officer Ros Phillips said today.
“Yet again, Labor backbencher Steph Key says she will introduce her bill to decriminalise brothels, escorts and street prostitutes – this time on 21 March.”
Ros Phillips said the new bill would be very similar to the one defeated at its second reading last November. “The latest version would require brothel owners to register with the government,” she said. “But this requirement is a mere formality. It would do nothing to address the serious exploitation associated with the sex trade wherever it operates.”
Ros Phillips said last year’s bill was defeated not long after Sheila Jeffreys, a professor of social and political sciences from Melbourne University, addressed a meeting of SA MPs in Parliament House on 31 October.
At that meeting, Professor Jeffreys said: “The SA women MPs who are promoting decriminalisation of prostitution genuinely want to help women. They think that by treating prostitution as a normal profession like any other, the women can access occupational health and safety measures and be a little better off.
“That’s what motivated MPs in NSW when they decriminalised the sex industry in 1995 – but the effect has been the opposite of that which they apparently intended,” Professor Jeffreys said.
“They argued that decriminalisation/legalisation would limit the growth of the sex industry and end organised crime involvement; it would reduce opportunities for police corruption; it would promote public health by enabling better control of sexually transmitted infections; it would lead to a decline in street prostitution; it would reduce violence against the women and girls in the industry. In all these respects they have been wrong and these harms have been exacerbated,” Professor Jeffreys said.
“The decriminalisation/legalisation prostitution experiment in Australian states has failed.”
Sheila Jeffreys is the author of several books on prostitution – most recently The Industrial Vagina, which examines the industrialisation and globalisation of the sex industry. She is the public officer of the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women Australia (CATWA) and a board member of CATW International, which has Category II consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Some MPs were taken aback when Professor Jeffreys read out official OHS “safety tips” for legal escorts in Melbourne – such as being careful about using local anaesthetic to dull vaginal pain because it might mask serious injuries. Many people do not realise the internal damage suffered by many sex workers during the normal course of “business” – injuries which would never be acceptable in any other business. The pain and injury, including mental injury, suffered by women in prostitution leads many of them to block out the pain with legal and illegal drugs.
- Government and society