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Catholic Women's League push to end legal brothels

An outreach worker has told a Hobart Catholic Women's League meeting that legalising brothels in Tasmania would lead to an increased illegal sex trade.

The Mercury reports that a State Government Bill to legalise brothels is due to be introduced to Parliament in the next few weeks.

Shirley Woods told the CWL meeting that Victoria's legalisation led to a rise in the illegal sex trade and encouraged the slavery of Asian and other women in the state.

Ms Woods and the CWL called on Tasmania to follow the Swedish model, where those seeking paid sex were penalised, rather than the prostitutes facing penalties.

Last year, the slavery of women brought into Australia as sex workers triggered a $20 million package from the Federal Government, including training police to recognise the problem.

"Legalising brothels tells men and society they have a right to paid sex, it sends the wrong message," said Ms Woods, an outreach worker from Project Respect. "In just three years since Sweden changed its laws to penalise the demand and not the prostitutes, street prostitution has dropped and the number of women in prostitution has halved. Police say it has not gone underground."

She said Victorian moves resulted in an increase in problems, not a decrease. Ms Woods told the Tasmanian CWL's 55th biennial state conference of horrific cases of abuse of women brought from Thailand and many other countries, some told they were to work in restaurants or as strippers. Many were abused and were forced to pay off debts for being brought to Australia, with some later reported to immigration authorities.

The CWL called on the Tasmanian Government to withdraw the brothel push, saying the law would increase rather than reduce demand for trafficked women and children.

Plea to end push for legal brothels (The Mercury 13/9/04)

Project Respect
Catholic Women's League Tasmania
Catholic Women's League Australia | 08/09/04: Draft Trafficking Laws Announced

13 Sep 2004