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.
"Images are inappropriate for viewing by children"Read more
Campaigners and survivors of sex trafficking celebrated last week after amendments to US federal law would hold websites facilitating sex trafficking accountable. In response to the legislation, various major websites including Craigslist and Reddit have implemented major changes- and now, federal law enforcement authorities are in the process of seizing Backpage.com and its affiliated websites.
The websites are being seized as part of an enforcement action by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service, according to a notice that appeared Friday afternoon on Backpage.com.
The notice didn’t characterize or provide any details on the nature of the enforcement action.
It said that authorities planned to release information about the enforcement action later Friday.
Backpage.com lets users create posts to sell items, seek roommates, participate in forums, list upcoming events or advertise job openings.
But Backpage.com also has listings for adult escorts and other sexual services, and authorities say that advertising related to those services has been extremely lucrative.
Last week, in a ground-breaking win, the UK High Court ruled that forcing sex trade survivors to reveal past convictions was unlawful.
The ruling was handed down after a claim brought by three sex trade survivors who argued that the legislative scheme requiring them to disclose their convictions for prostitution discriminates against women and is contrary to the UK’s legal obligations regarding the trafficking of women.
All three of the claimants had been forced into the sex industry as teenagers, and as a result had multiple criminal convictions of soliciting and loitering. Claimant Fiona Broadfoot, who waived anonymity, recalled:
“I met a pimp aged 15 and two weeks later I was thrown into the violent and abusive world of prostitution. Rape became an occupational hazard but I was arrested, charged and criminalised for loitering for the purposes of being a common prostitute. After more than twenty years out of prostitution, I am still having to explain my criminal record to any prospective employer. It feels like explaining my history of abuse.”
Another survivor reflected on how the criminal convictions had impacted her life:
“It doesn’t matter what it is – trying to help out at my kids’ school or the local brownies’ coffee morning, trying to be a governor or a councillor, applying to education or training or employment – even volunteering in so many fields – with children, with the elderly, in care, with vulnerable people, with youth work, with social work – all need a DBS and then you get treated like some sort of pariah or sex offender! But it’s not fair – I never chose that life and I fought hard to get out of it but I’m always being pulled back to it as though that’s who I am but it’s not who I am.”
While the women forced into prostitution had spent their lives enduring the consequences of being sexually exploited, including the indignity of having to explain their convictions, the men involved were never arrested, Broadfoot pointed out.
“When I was arrested, the police referred to my pimp by his first name. Well, why didn’t they arrest him?” she said.
“Not one of those men who bought and used and abused me – even the ones who knew fine well I was a child when first put on the streets – has ever had to face the consequences of his actions.”
Karen Ingala Smith, the CEO of women’s charity nia, said,
“We feel strongly that these women should never have been convicted in the first place. Prostitution is symptomatic of women’s continued inequality and discrimination and a form of violence against women. These women were exploited and coerced and yet it is their lives, not those of their buyers and pimps, that were blighted with convictions. They should not have had to take up this fight, but they did and it is to the benefit of all those exploited in prostitution”.
It’s hard to think of anything more sexist and demeaning than a pub promoting semi-naked women wrestling in a pool of jelly to entertain men. But the Imperial Hotel Singleton thought jelly-wrestling, along with decorative bikini “girls” for men to look at, was an appropriate way to celebrate Australia Day. This is the same venue that threw a ‘Playboy Party’ to commemorate pimp Hugh Hefner, with free bunny.
“It’s just not good enough anymore.”
Local woman Lily Munroe couldn’t stand by and accept this objectification and humiliation of women under the guise of men’s entertainment. So she decided to act.
Lily contacted the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service, whose volunteers had been fundraising at the Singleton pub since 2010. She emailed the WRH CEO, the fundraising and marketing manager, the mayor, ten councillors and the local MP, and made an appointment with a representative at the WRH office.
Lily was initially met with resistance, with one representative from WRH dismissing her concerns and directing her back to the pub, claiming that the WRH fundraising at the Singleton pub was not “official” as the fundraisers were volunteers. When the representative called the volunteers on Lily’s insistence, they were shocked to learn of the event and decided to cancel their fundraising that evening and withdraw from the pub entirely.
Next, Lily then received a phone call from the WRH fundraising and marketing manager who called to confirm not only their withdrawal, but that the sexist event had also been cancelled due to WRH’s decision to withdraw. When the pub learned WRH were planning on withdrawing from all present and future association (a big drawcard for the pub on Friday nights) they said they would cancel the jelly-wrestling and not hold similar events in the future if WRH would stay.
The Imperial Hotel Singleton confirmed on their Facebook page the event had been cancelled: “Please note we have regretfully cancelled tonight’s jelly wrestling thanks to the do-gooder PC brigade. Good work ladies.” And good work it was!
If Lily hadn’t challenged the venue hosting this sexist and degrading event, it would still be going ahead. But she did.
If we speak out, we can affect real change.
"It's the parents' responsibility": Porn industry blames parents for children's exposure to hard core porn
Three teenagers have a conversation about how online pornography has impacted on their lives in a new video from ABC. The seven-minute video explores the ways in which unrestricted access to pornography shapes young people’s sexuality, their intimate relationships and view of themselves and their bodies.
In a digital age with unrestricted access to hard core pornography, children are being exposed at unprecedented rates and from younger ages. Children are viewing increasingly violent and degrading pornography, typically before they’ve experienced real life sexual encounters. Pornography has become the primary means of sex education for young people, but what does it teach?
“[Porn] is creating an expectation”
Kiki, 19, told ABC she had experienced pressure from male sexual partners to replicate sex acts they had seen in pornography:
“My boyfriend at the time would just nag me and nag me and nag me at the time to do anal. I ended up having to turn around and stop and say, ‘No, I’m not going to do that’ before he retreated… it’s not kind of like ‘Hey, I’m curious about this.’ It’s like, ‘You should do this, I want you to do this.’ They push and push and push.”
Kiki’s sentiments have been expressed by many young women who have similarly described experiences of coercion and unwanted porn-inspired sex acts instigated by male partners. (Read more here).
Porn industry blames parents for children’s exposure to porn
Throughout the short video, various spokespeople for the pornography industry shrugged off responsibility for the harms to children who were exposed to hard core pornography, arguing it was up to parents to monitor their child’s internet access.
Ron Jeremy, one of the most famous male porn performers of all time, argued it was not the porn industry’s responsibility to depict healthy sexual relationships. Jeremy, who was a special guest at Sexpo, was last week barred from the industry’s own Adult Video News awards after multiple rape allegations. “Watch your goddamn kids,” he said.
But when the teens featured in the video were asked if they felt their parents could control everything they looked at on the internet, their response was a resounding no. “No, there’s no way you could. To a 13-year-old, parents say ‘No more internet’ so he takes his smartphone down to public wi-fi.”
It’s near impossible for parents to compete with the multi-billion-dollar global sex industry, one that aggressively markets and has successfully mainstreamed its product, and opposes any measures that may curtail its profits- such as age verification on pornographic websites.
Parents need to be educated, but at best, all we can really do is prepare our children for the inevitable.