Scarlet News:

3 Nov 2010 “Expert panel compares sex industry laws and recommends WA decriminalisation” Scarlet Alliance

Nov 1, 2010 | Media release, News

Experts will gather on 3 November in Perth to present on the outcomes of sex work regulation internationally (New Zealand and Sweden) and from around Australia, urging the WA Government to consider the evidence from comparison of different models of regulation and learn from the outcomes of other jurisdictions and countries.

Recent years have delivered mounting evidence from: a three state Australian study, including Western Australia; the evaluation of five years of decriminalisation in New Zealand; and the review of Sweden’s criminalisation of clients law. Sex Workers, researchers and advocates agree – the best way to protect the occupational health and safety, human rights and privacy of sex workers is decriminalisation. WA parliament considered and approved decriminalisation of sex work in 2008. Recent media suggests the current government is considering sex industry regulation again. The panel urges the WA government to consider the evidence.

WHAT: WA Sex Industry Law Reform Media Conference, (prior to Symposium)

WHEN: 11am, Wednesday, 3rd November,

WHERE: Russell Square, James Street and Parker Street, Northbridge

WHO: Guest International and Australian speakers (listed below) from the Sex Industry Regulatory Models Symposium (held on afternoon of November 3rd)

Catherine Healy, National Coordinator, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and member of the Prostitution Law Review Committee (2003-8). “The outcome of the government appointed decriminalisation review committee found the law an overall success. Sex Work in New Zealand was decriminalised in 2003 and there is no evidence of an increase in the number of brothels, sex workers, youth involvement or organised crime. There is strong evidence that sex workers are better off and much safer.” said Catherine Healy, National Coordinator, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and member of the Prostitution Law Review Committee (2003-8).

Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association said, “Western Australia desperately needs to shift away from a morally charged debate and move to evidence based Sex Industry policy. When you consider different sex industry regulatory approaches decriminalisation is a win-win model for all including the general community (public health), government (high compliance and low cost) and importantly sex workers (social inclusion and occupational health and safety). Importantly for Western Australia the model removes the regulation of the sex industry away from police. ”

Petra Ostergren, Swedish social anthropologist and researcher says, "The Swedish law criminalising the clients is a symbolic law, not a pragmatic law. Sex workers have not consulted on the making of the law on its impact, it has treated sex workers like children not ordinary people. The data from the recent review has been criticized by researchers and social authorities. Reliable research shows the law has not been a success in obtaining its goal to decrease prostitution."

Elena Jeffreys, President, Scarlet Alliance said, “The recent Nation Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research LASH study ‘independently compiled extensive collateral data on the prostitution laws in WA, and prosecutions (2000–2005) resulting from those laws; the structure and function of the sex industry in Perth; the demographics, behaviour, health, and welfare of a representative sample of brothel-based sex workers in Perth; and the operation of health promotion and clinical services in WA… Condom use at work approached 100% in Perth brothels and when the LASH team tested the Perth women the prevalence of four sexually transmitted infections (STIs)..was at least as low as the general population…’ The study report states ‘Licensing of sex work (‘legalisation’) should not be regarded as a viable legislative response’ and I agree that based on health outcomes, low compliance and the cost to the taxpayer licensing or registration models are not the right direction for Western Australia”.

Presenters information:

Petra Östergren is a writer and social commentator in Sweden. She commenced her PhD studies at Lund University in the fall of 2008. The theme of her dissertation is the global export and reception of the Swedish law prohibiting purchase of sex.

Basil Donovan (NCHECR), Principle researcher on the Laws and Sexual Health (LASH) study of sex work Laws in Australia; Occupational Health and Safety. This longitudinal study included more than 900 sex workers in NSW, Victoria and WA, and has resulted in a report on the Western Australian sex industry.

Catherine Healy, National Coordinator, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Catherine was a member of the Prostitution Law Review Committee (2003-8) assessing the early years of decriminalisation of sex work in New Zealand, and advised on the outcomes for sex workers, including Occupational Health and Safety, Industrial Rights, Privacy and Human Rights.

Elena Jeffreys, President, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association is a elected representation and a sex worker formerly of WA, currently based in Sydney. Elena is a member of the Attorney Generals Roundtable on People Trafficking and has written extensively on sex worker community cultural development, trafficking and migrant sex work, the regulation of the sex industry throughout Australia and ethical community driven sex worker research.