Speaking out against the exploitation of women and children: Collective Shout cited in NSW Modern Slavery Act report
Report cites Collective Shout and Movement Director Melinda Tankard Reist
Following its 2019 Inquiry into the Modern Slavery Act 2018 and Associated Matters, the New South Wales Legislative Council tabled its final report last month. The Act makes new provisions regarding child sexual exploitation material through the addition of the following offenses to the NSW Crimes Act 1900:
a new aggravated offence in relation to using a child to produce child abuse material, and a new offence of providing information to assist a person to avoid detection for a child abuse material offence.
We welcomed these new provisions which will strengthen capacity for holding offenders to account for sex abuse crimes committed against children.
The report contained several references to Collective Shout’s submission and evidence presented by Movement Director Melinda Tankard Reist who appeared for us at the Inquiry hearing last November, including the following quote from our submission:
New South Wales law must ensure that any person who is facilitating such horrific acts as the abuse on demand of babies and other young children, wherever the abuse might be occurring, through a digital platform operating in or accessed from New South Wales, is subject to an offence, whether the person administering or assisting to administer the digital platform does so intending it be used for that purpose or after becoming aware that it is being used for that purpose fails to take all reasonable steps to prevent that use.
Contrary to our recommendations against watering down the Act in relation to digital platforms the amended Bill now excludes the previously proposed new criminal offence of administering a digital platform used to deal with child abuse material. Conflicts between Federal and State law was cited by the committee. Several contributors to the Inquiry objected to this deletion, noting that its inclusion was stronger than the provisions of Commonwealth legislation to hold digital platforms and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) accountable for hosting child sex abuse material. We shared concerns that its exclusion will provide loopholes for such offenders. As Melinda Tankard Reist pointed out at the hearing:
The child victim is a part of the slavery supply chain. Combating modern slavery has to include combating the global epidemic of this pay-per-view torture of children in the growing trade of predators commissioning the live sexual abuse of a child viewed via their computer screens and facilitated by their ISPs. ISPs and telcos including Telstra, Optus, iiNet and TPG are providing the infrastructure for the live streaming of the abuse of children to be possible. ISPs are part of a chain which contributes to the distribution of child sexual exploitation material but they have not been brought to account.
Melinda Tankard Reist at the Inquiry hearing, 4 November 2019
In her verbal evidence, MTR commended other contributors to the Inquiry, including International Justice Mission Australia (IJM) and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA), as well as the expert advice of UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland. We were pleased to see Hyland’s six-point strategy for ending modern slavery featured in the report, which highlights the need for all nations to mandate - through legislation - a child-exploitation - and human-trafficking-free internet, as well as the outcomes of the proposed legislation which, according to Hyland, include “leading businesses into generating ethical profits free from exploitation and modern slavery”. We anticipate this outcome will have positive consequences for the broader community - women and girls particularly who stand to benefit from corporates who are unwilling to profit from exploitative activities.
While not mentioned in the Final Report, we noted CATWA’s significant observation that the Act’s proposed minimum $50 million annual turnover threshold for mandatory supply chain reporting will fail to capture agents of the sex industry - an industry in which women are at greatest risk of trafficking and slavery. In its submission CATWA concluded:
A requirement for sex industry businesses to report would be a first step in the fight against modern slavery.
We strongly support this recommendation and would advocate for its inclusion in any future amendments.
Read our full submission to the Inquiry here.
Read the full Parliamentary Hearing transcript here.
Read the NSW Legislative Council's final report here.
Yesterday I took two of my children into town for ice cream. This is what they were exposed to on a busy Perth street.Read more
*Update* A prominent city strip club has been ordered by City of Adelaide to remove an offending advertising screen following complaints
South Australian MP Frank Pangallo has called out a porn-themed video advertisement being broadcast in Adelaide’s CBD.
The video, which was broadcast during the day in the CBD, is an advertisement for strip club The Firm.
Mr Pangallo said the advertisement should be banned or moved from public view:
"Council seem to jump immediately on traders who may have inadvertently breached outdoor or indoor seating/dining regulations but here they are turning a blind eye to blatant sexploitation and soft porn on one of our most prominent boulevards and tourist precincts."
City of Adelaide associate director of planning and development Shanti Ditter said that the council does not approve advertising content, and recommended complaints be directed to Ad Standards.
However, Ad Standards continually fails to be effective. Ad Standards regularly dismisses complaints against sexist and sexually objectifying advertising because there is "no explicit nudity", and permits sex industry venues to advertise pornography and prostitution to children on the basis that the advertising is "relevant to the product". The advertising industry has proven time and again it cannot be trusted to regulate itself. This is what industry self-regulation looks like- a strip club broadcasting video in the CBD during the day to an audience that will likely involve children.
Ad Standards has upheld complaints over a prominent Kittens Car Wash billboard in Melbourne, where sleazy men pay women in g-string bikinis to feign interest in them wash their cars.
A complaint made to Ad Standards read as follows:
It’s sexist and degrading to women. It encourages the notion that women’s bodies are for the sexual gratification of men. It’s in a highly visible area where families with children (including myself) pass by every day. It’s also primarily there to promote the associated strip club and as such is advertising sexual services in a prominent public position. It is demeaning and overtly sexual for a company who only wash cars. The workers wear bikinis to wash your car but the billboard is also to promote the strip club also called Kittens. It is on a prominent corner of a high traffic area.
Ad Standards considered the complaint, noting that the woman’s body was being used as an object to advertise the service. The panel found that the advertisement was in breach of Section 2.2 of the code which states: “Advertising or marketing communications should not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative or degrading of any individual or group of people.”
The panel also considered the woman’s pose was “seductive and highly sexualised”, finding it was in breach of Section 2.4 of the code, which requires advertisers to treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience.
Kittens Car Wash has a long history of using sexist and sexually objectifying imagery to advertise their sexist business. The ‘Kittens School of Striptease’ bus advertisement sat on the corner of a major intersection in Melbourne in full view of traffic parked next to a bikini carwash. After Ad Standards upheld complaints against it in 2010, Kittens continued to use the same image on a number of different vehicles. Read more.
Ad Standards Board bans Kittens Carwash Striptease bus ad
Kittens Car Wash comes under fire from feminists for paying its female workers to clean vehicles wearing nothing more than bikinis and g-strings- Daily Mail
We are very pleased to report that we have successfully defended our movement against legal threats from Sexpo, with the Federal Court in Brisbane dismissing an application brought against Collective Shout by Sexpo Limited. Sexpo Limited was also ordered to pay Collective Shout’s costs.
It was in May 2017 that we were alerted to public buses servicing school routes in Perth that featured advertisements for Sexpo. The ads included the web address for one of their sponsors, a broadcaster of live streamed sex shows.
Ad Standards dismissed complaints and rejected our request for a review. Case Manager Nikki Paterson claimed that advertising live sex shows on the side of a bus was not a breach of the code. Our petition to prevent similar ads on Brisbane buses, due out the following month, attracted over 5000 signatures.
Sexpo’s lawyers threatened to sue Collective Shout for damages for “misleading and deceptive behaviour” under consumer law, citing social media posts by two staff members.
Sexpo claimed that Collective Shout was misleading because the bus ads promoting MyFreeCams.com did not share a url, and only included the words ‘My Free Cams’ with no .com to follow. They also denied that the image existed on a bus or any other physical medium. Take a look at a range of photographic evidence that proves otherwise:
In the weeks following the release of our petition, the ‘.com’ from the following billboard was blacked out:
Last month, The Honourable Justice Reeves dismissed Sexpo’s application against Collective Shout, concluding:
I do not consider Sexpo has established that it held a reasonable belief that it had suffered any harm to its commercial reputation as a consequence of Collective Shout’s alleged representations such that it may have a right to obtain relief in a claim against it. Sexpo’s application under r 7.23 must therefore be dismissed. I will order accordingly.
Justice Reeves also noted that Sexpo provided more than 500 pages of affidavit material in connection with their application, yet only three paragraphs were directly devoted to the existence of Sexpo’s belief about its right to obtain relief from Collective Shout, an argument ultimately rejected by the judge. Real the full judgment here.
The ruling against Sexpo is a significant victory- not just for Collective Shout and our supporters, but for all those who support the rights of children to live free from pornography. The sex industry in Australia has been permitted to target children with advertising for pornography and prostitution in public spaces for too long, and we are more committed than ever to stand up for the rights of children.
Ad Standards have upheld complaints against a strip club, Goldfingers Mens Club over an “unavoidable” poster on the corner of King Street and Lonsdale Street featuring a highly sexualised image of a woman with a guitar between her legs.Read more
Most people recognise sex trafficking as a serious human rights violation, but what about prostitution?
There is sometimes a perception of sex trafficking and prostitution as two separate and unrelated issues, with trafficking being viewed as forced, and prostitution as freely chosen. However, the two are intrinsically connected- the demand for prostitution fuels sex trafficking.
A study of 150 countries found that legalised prostitution leads to an expansion of the prostitution market, increasing human trafficking, and that on average, countries where prostitution is legal experience larger human trafficking inflows. Essentially, legitimising and normalising the sex industry leads to a rise in trafficking, as women must be brought in to meet increased demand.
German Detective Superintendent Helmut Sporer described the devastating impacts of legalising the sex industry in Germany, including worsened conditions for women, greater power to pimps and organised crime gangs and a significant increase in trafficking:
“What is very important here is the awareness of the fact that prostitution and trafficking are a joint phenomenon. There is no such thing as clean, good prostitution on the one hand and quite separate from this the bad trafficking with pimping on the other.”
One prostitution survivor highlighted some of the commonalities between supposedly ‘forced’ and ‘free’ sexual exploitation:
“Prostitution and sex trafficking are intrinsically linked: you have one because of the other. For the last 18 months of my time on the Burlington Road, I stood alongside a trafficked woman. She became my closest friend, and I have never seen a human being so broken down. The conditions in which she lived were inhumane, and, although we had arrived at the same place through different means, we were connected because we were bought, used, exploited, humiliated and raped by the same offenders. One night I would be bought, and, a few nights later, the same man would buy her. On a couple of occasions, we were bought together. That connection can never be broken by anyone at any time in any country.”
In 2003 Dorchen Leidholdt, Co-Executive Director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International summed up the connection between prostitution and trafficking as follows:
“Prostitution and sex trafficking are the same human rights catastrophe, whether in local or global guise. Both are part of a system of gender-based domination that makes violence against women and girls profitable to a mind-boggling extreme. Both prey on women and girls made vulnerable by poverty, discrimination and violence and leave them traumatised, sick and impoverished. Both reward predators sexually and financially, strengthening both the demand for criminal operations that ensure the supply.
“The concerted effort by some NGOs and governments to disconnect trafficking from prostitution- to treat them as a distinct and unrelated phenomena- is nothing less than a deliberate political strategy aimed at legitimizing the sex industry and protecting its growth and profitability.”
Pic: Dorchen Leidholdt
Sweden’s solution to prostitution and trafficking, the ‘Nordic model’
The Nordic model was implemented in Sweden in 1999 after extensive research, and it is based on the view of prostitution as a form of men’s violence against women.
The Nordic model criminalises the demand for sexual exploitation, decriminalises those exploited, and provides exit pathways for individuals in prostitution who wish to leave the industry. As Swedish lawyer Gunilla Ekberg explains:
“One of the cornerstones of Swedish policies against prostitution and trafficking in human beings is the focus on the root cause, the recognition that without men’s demand for and use of women and girls for sexual exploitation, the global prostitution industry would not be able to flourish and expand.”
Various human rights organisations, academics and prostitution survivors advocate for the implementation of the Nordic model, which has been adopted in a growing number of countries around the world, including Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Canada, France and Ireland.
Progress under the Nordic model
Since Sweden's legislation criminalising the buying of sex, considerable progress has been made. According to research out of the Nordic Gender Institute, the number of men buying sex has decreased from 13.6% in 1996 to 7.9% in 2008. Street prostitution in Sweden has halved while in neighbouring countries such as Norway and Denmark it is estimated to be three times higher. Police have intercepted phone correspondence between pimps and traffickers who now regard Sweden as an unattractive market and suggest Denmark, Germany or Holland (where prostitution is legal) as more profitable alternatives. Reportedly, there has been a cultural shift in Sweden where it is no longer considered acceptable to purchase another person.
As proponents of the Nordic model attest, we cannot oppose sex trafficking of women and children and simultaneously support the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children in prostitution. Sex trafficking would cease to exist if men stopped buying women. There can never be gender equality while women are commodities to be bought and sold.