Today is International Human Rights Day. This year the focus is on how some people are voiceless in public life and politics. The vulnerable, by the simple fact of that vulnerability, are voiceless. To speak is to risk exposure and danger. To not speak is to risk being overlooked, or to have one’s voice misappropriated by self-serving spokespeople.
On this Human Rights Day an advocacy group for a “Human Rights Approach To Prostitution In Australia” has produced a report (The Red Light Report) which illuminates a facet of our society in which their is a great deal of voicelessness. The report sheds light on an “industry” and makes a case for a difference between the rosy-pictured spin of sex industry lobby groups and the actual reality on the ground.
As the report shows, the is ample evidence to show that the sex industry in Australia is dominated by coercion. The prevalence of mental, emotional and physical harm done to prostituted persons is of great concern. Without a doubt there is a violation of rights here, a diminution of a woman’s dignity and identity for the sake of profit and control.
The legal framework for how we deal with prostitution in Tasmania is likely to be reviewed next year. The report is produced by NORMAC – Nordic Model in Australia Coalition – that is encouraging an approach to the prostitution of women that is based on values rather than expediencies and has proven itself effective in other countries. In the Nordic Model the purchaser of sexual acts is prosecuted, and the prostituted person is assisted and supported.
I am concerned that the Tasmanian government will go down the road of legalisation – which is, effectively, license for big business commercialisation – of prostitution in this State. I support the goals of NORMAC and I encourage you to take note of their website, NORMAC Launch, ‘Red Light Report’ & media release.
Matthew Holloway, a member of NORMAC, recently spoke at the Friday Forum at St. David’s Cathedral. His talk and the Q&A following is well worth listening to by downloading it from the Cathedral website.
As this issue becomes to get some attention, it is worthwhile reflecting on some of the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
…the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms…
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.