This week, a bill was passed in the Australia’s Northern Territories which decriminalises every aspect of the sex trade. The bill also gives pimps and punters the right to take women to court for damages if they don’t “complete service” or if they withdraw consent.
Its supporters argued that decriminalisation would help legitimise currently illegal businesses, but why would anyone wish to legitimise businesses that abuse women? In fact, under these laws, illegal prostitution expands, because the eyes of the police are no longer on the industry.
Sex trade apologists claim that legalisation prevents prostitution from going underground; prevents the involvement of underage girls; and reduces trafficking. By referring to prostitution as “sex work”, the punters as “clients”, and the pimps as “managers”, this vile and exploitative trade instantly become sanitised.
There is even a euphemism for trafficking: “migration for sex work”. During the slave trade, a profiteer in the West Indies suggested: “Instead of slaves, let them be called assistant planters and we shall not then hear such violent outcries against the slave trade by pious divines, tender-hearted poetesses and short-sighted politicians.”
I spent time in legal brothels in Australia when researching my book on the sex trade, and found that, contrary to the propaganda, the women are not safe, and only the pimps and punters benefit.
Sex trade survivors are dead against legalisation. “Under legalisation, there is more violence, because the men feel protected and entitled, [and] more trafficking and underage girls, because legalisation creates a warm welcome for pimps,” says Sabrinna Valisce who was prostituted in legal and illegal brothels in both Australia and New Zealand.
Sex is not a human right. The only rights we should be concerned with when it comes to prostitution is the right of women and girls not to be bought and sold.