Vic Government review to decriminalise pimps excludes sex trade survivors

Collective Shout stands with sex trade survivors in supporting the Nordic model approach to prostitution legislation. The Nordic model, which is also known as the Equality or Human Rights model, is premised on the recognition that men’s paid sexual access to women and girls is a form of violence against women, and that without men’s demand for women and girls for sexual exploitation, the global sex trade would not exist. The Nordic model has been endorsed by the European Parliament as best practice for tackling gender inequality and sex trafficking.

The Nordic model is an asymmetrical model of decriminalisation where those providing sexual services are supported to exit the trade, while the buyers, pimps and exploiters are criminalised. It has been adopted by Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Israel.

Victorian Government Review to Decriminalise Pimping

However, in November last year, the Victorian Government announced a review into full decriminalisation of the sex industry- which includes decriminalising pimps, brothel keepers and sex buyers- with the Review into Decriminalisation of ‘Sex Work’. The Government then appointed Fiona Patten, founder of the Australian Sex Party and former CEO of the Eros Association, the peak body advocating for sex industry interests in Australia, to lead the review.

Sex trade survivors and their supporters questioned how the Government could come to a conclusion to decriminalise sex industry profiteers prior to even holding the review, or how a review could be led by a long-time campaigner for sex industry businesses.

In a media release, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia warned that appointing Patten threatened to undermine the integrity and credibility of the process:

Patten’s appointment represents a clear conflict of interest towards sex industry businesses and owners. It is impossible to see how the voices of marginalised populations will be properly heard when this review is led by someone with clear links to organisations that have a vested interest in deregulation.

Sex industry review excludes survivors of prostitution and trafficking

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Review Team has excluded sex trade survivors who oppose decriminalisation from participating in the consultation process. Some were ignored, not even receiving an email in response to their request to be heard.

Survivor organisations PEACE, SPACE International, NorMAC and Wahine Toa Rising were all excluded from participating.

What is the point in a Government review where the outcome has already been determined, one that is led by an individual with no attempt to be impartial, and which excludes the voices of those with relevant lived experience because they hold the ‘wrong’ view?

Collective Shout also asked to participate in consultations. We wrote that as a decade-old organisation with expertise in the sexual exploitation of women in Australia and globally, having authored papers in the field, contributed to a number of inquiries into the sex trade, trafficking and modern day slavery, as well as having supported a significant number of women who once worked in the sex industry and whose experiences and unique knowledge has informed our work since our formation, we believed we had something to offer the inquiry. We too were rejected, but permitted to send written feedback.

In our submission, we put on record our deep concern by the decision of the Committee to exclude submissions from women who have exited the industry and that we view this as a serious abuse of proper inquiry by elected officials.

To learn more about the failures of both legalising and decriminalising the sex trade, and why we support the Nordic/Equality model, read our submission.

See also:

Vic sex work review brings forth opponents- Canberra Times 

Full decriminalisation of the sex industry is a step backwards- Tegan Larin 

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