Media commentator Jane Caro caused a stir on ABC 1’s Q&A program on Monday night when she claimed that wives, by exchanging marital sex in return for domestic support and security from their husbands, were effectively acting as prostitutes.
But it didn’t take Caro long to confess that in obeying her instructions to be risky and provocative, she had gone too far. “I have been married to the same man for 39 years,” she revealed in her Canberra Times column the next day. “Does that make me a prostitute? No.”
Other members of the all-women panel gave some important insights into the reality of the sex trade as it is practised today. Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho, for example, praised the Swedish model of prostitution law – which penalises the client and helps the prostitute quit the sex trade.
“I followed three Swedish cases for a while for my book,” Lydia Cacho said. “One in particular was an African woman that was given a choice to have a visa, bring her kids to the country, get away from prostitution, and she did it willingly… and she is just amazingly happy now, and she doesn’t feel like she was forced out of prostitution.
“She feels like she got a chance for the first time in her entire life. I know this is just a single case, but we are documenting a lot of cases like this in Sweden.”
FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips said: “It is about time parliaments across Australia addressed the exploitation inherent in today’s legalised or decriminalised sex trade, and looked more closely at laws that successfully deal with the problem – as in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and South Korea – with Scotland and France likely to follow.”
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