Legalising Prostitution = Legalising Violence against Women?

I find the issue of legalising prostitution to be complex. It is on the socio-political agenda in Tasmania.

Prostitution of itself is the selling of a person’s body for the gratification of another without the inherent freely entered relationship of love. This ‘commoditisation’ of a person’s body dehumanises both the people involved.

And, yes, I know prostitution happens but I do not agree in prosecuting people who sell their bodies. The people I wish to stop are the ‘purchasers’ of another person’s body for their sexual gratification. I am slowly coming to the view that there is a better approach (Swedish Model) to this issue. More on that at some other time.

Returning to the idea of legalising prostitution in Tasmania. The Public Forum, Legalising Prostitution = Legalising Violence against Women with Professor Sheila Joy Jeffreys looks interesting because it claims that legalising brothel prostitution does not work and is a failed social experiment. Furthermore Professor Jeffreys claims,

Legalising prostitution does not control the industry, or eliminate corruption, organized crime or street prostitution. Instead it exacerbates all these problems. It does not end the violence and abuse that women in prostitution suffer, but instead gives the seal of approval to the everyday violence of prostitution that women get paid to survive. It will make Tasmania a ‘pimp state’, which profits from prostituting women. She will explain how legalising the industry of prostitution threatens the equality of all women, including their rights to equality of relationships and equality in the workplace.

Professor Sheila Joy Jeffreys is from the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne and is the Public Officer of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia. Professor Jeffreys is the author of eight books on the history and politics of sexuality including The Idea of Prostitution and The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade.

For Inquiries Contact Jennie Herrera, Whistleblowers Tasmania  03 62 282 727. The Public Forum with Professor Sheila Joy Jeffreys is on 1 pm Saturday 2nd June at Friends Meeting House, 5 Boa Vista Road, North Hobart.


Legalising Prostitution = Legalising Violence against Women? — 7 Comments

  1. Dear Bishop,
    Although I think you are approaching this from a loving, caring place, where-by you do not agree with prostitution but you don’t want to persecute prostitutes, I want to let you know that if you did some research into the Swedish Model, you would find that it has created a dangerous social and working environment for prostitutes in the countries where it has been passed. The Swedish model persecutes the buyers of Sex, but in doing so, it creates a social environment where prostitution is hidden, secret, and underground and therefore it is much harder for the normal safety strategies of working girls/men to be implemented. This is very dangerous for the prostitute. Prostitution will still carry on even if it is illegal, or the Swedish Model is passed. To encourage law makers to opt for a policy that make prostitution dangerous, secretive and illegal actually increases violence, injustices and crimes against prostitutes. I strongly believe that prostitutes are real people too, and despite peoples differing feelings and thoughts about prostitution, working girls and men really don’t deserve to be looked down up by society and forced into dangerous situations because law makers and society refuses to understand their true plight. I think Jesus has the right idea, when he himself loved a prostitute. Jesus talks about loving, caring and letting the judgement of others come from our father, not from us. I don’t think prostitution, or the buying of Sex should be a crime, I think we should live and let live, and the laws around protecting women should focus on those that need protecting, such as child sex-slaves and victims of drugs/alcohol/domestic violence.

  2. I’m a Tasmanian and a sex worker. I do not become dehumanised because of my work, and the clients we see are people you meet everyday- your brothers, fathers, husbands, widowers, seeking a service that includes emotional warmth, caring and that even satisfies the soul. There are many reasons for being a client, and many reasons too for choosing to be a sex worker. Making it illegal to be a client will only turn back the clock on my rights in the workplace, and reduce my choices. What people don’t know is that the Swedish Model Bishop John refers to is the greater failure as an experiment- pushing sex workers out of their safe workplaces, including their homes, and onto the street, or clandestine “cover” businesses. Clients and sex workers have not disappeared, rather they have been made to meet in less visible ways.
    Tasmanians need to listen to us sex workers- not the Professors and Pontificators- we have experience of working in different legal frameworks, because we travel for work, and we prefer to have our rights protected by decriminalisation.

  3. Sheila jefferies also says that if a woman lets a man penetrate her during sexual intercourse, even if the man is her husband, then the woman is a victim of violence. She says all kinds of wacky things. She is against heterosexuality, and thinks all men should be destroyed. She says marriage is a form of prostitution as she is also strongly against marriage. She says it is a type of subjugation and sexual slavery of women. Do you really want to be promoting her? Have you read any of her books? They are very angry and damning to the church, to men, to marriage, to prostitution, to sex between a man and a woman and so forth. Sheila Jefferies hates prostitution only because she hates men. For the same reason she hates marriage. Think carefully before you promote this woman Bishop John. Sheila Jefferies is a radical crack pot.

  4. I have been a sex worker for nearly 30 years and I have never sold my body. The notion that sex workers sell their bodies is offensive and untrue. I sell a service that includes the use of my body. Priests charge money to perform wedding services, funerals and baptisms where their bodies are present and perform a function in the service but I don’t think they would see themselves a selling their bodies in those situations.

    As to sex work not involving the “inherent freely entered relationship of love” much of the work I do involves a great deal of love and I would not do it if it didn’t. I agree that commodification and dehumanisation are concerns in our modern capitalist consumer society but they don’t form a valid of compelling argument to ban brothels or sex work.
    I would strongly caution against any sort of endorsement of the Swedish Model. The Swedish model de facto criminalises sex workers along with their clients whilst pretending to “help” sex workers by criminalising their clients.

    If the Tasmania government were tomorrow to criminalise the practising of Christianity but not criminalise Christian priests then the Tasmanian clergy would be in roughly the same position as Swedish sex workers.

    Just think what effect that would have on your work as a priest. You would not be able to hold legal services, you would have to meet parishioners in secret, in back alleys and dangerous places, churches would be illegal, landlords would not be able to rent you a meeting place or even personal accommodation, your family if they were supported by your religious activities could be charged with “living off your earnings”, if they say drove you to conduct a religious service they could be charged with pimping.

    The government if following the Swedish model would then put in place “exit programs” for priests but if they followed the Swedish model they would only be available to priests who repented of the Christian beliefs.

    As to Professor Jeffreys, their premise is flawed. Legalising prostitution does not equate to legalising violence against women because sex work is not violence against women. Prof Jeffries is extending the already flawed argument that all sex is violence against women to the area of commercial sex work.

    However Prof Jeffreys claim that legalising (brothel) sex work does not work is in part correct although not for the reasons that Prof Jeffreys puts forward. The only proper legal framework for sex work is a decriminalised one such as currently operates in NSW and New Zealand. In a decriminalised system sex workers are not controlled by sex work specific laws and have the same rights and freedoms as all other legitimate workers including the right to be protected from violence and abuse

  5. Legalising brothels would not be good for our community. This was made clear by a woman known as Shannon, speaking on ABC Radio in Hobart about her life as a prostitute.
    “Vulnerable women already sexually abused and with low self-esteem, are targeted all the time to work in brothels. Drug taking is commonplace. It’s all about role play. I had to use drugs to dissociate myself. ’’
    She believes the distribution of pornographic videos from the ACT and on the Internet, is leading younger men to demand increasingly degrading acts to live out their fantasies.
    When asked whether there was any difference between being in legal or illegal brothels, she replied: “No, because you get the same sorts of clients and the same sorts of girls.”
    Shannon believes legalisation “sends the message that the Government approves of women being degraded, damaged and sexually assaulted. Rather than legalising brothels, the Government should be proactive and tackle the underlying problem which is the breakdown of social and cultural values.”
    In the paper Legalising Brothels is not the Answer: the Example of Victoria Australia, Mary Sullivan and Sheila Jeffries report that “in the everyday practices of the sex industry, women must engage in acts that are sexually and physically degrading and are forced to disassociate emotionally by using drugs or alcohol to survive. The acts that men buy the right to perform on prostituted women include all the forms of sexual violence that feminists are seeking to eliminate from women’s beds, homes, workplaces, streets. A woman student in Victoria is protected by sexual harassment policies on university premises. Male teachers may not grab or insult her. When she crosses the road to the legal brothel, the same men may treat her as they wish. She has little redress. The harassment is what she is paid for.”
    A UN Commission monitoring violence against women regularly criticises Australia for allowing legalized brothels, thereby aiding and abetting the trafficking of women and girls for sexual slavery.

  6. Thanks Bishop John for your courageous stance against legalised brothels. God made our women and children, and he made them in his own image. It can never be right to legalise an industry that will see them bought and sold as commodities for male self-gratification. They are worth infinitely more than that. Keep up the good work!

  7. Turning to prostitution to meet financial obligations is the most common reason for women to sell their services. We should be looking at how to stop this problem from occurring by offering valid employment opportunities. Violence and abuse, STIs and stress related issues remain associated with prostitution. It is not a job that any sane person would recommend for a young girl, let alone any older woman.
    Legalising the industry has been shown to increase the demand for more brothels and illegal brothels has tripled, along with the illegal activities that follow on with the racket. I think that Bishop John is right in making a stand to respect women and their bodies; no selling of sex.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *