Criminalise clients not sex workers: Perth Catholic paper

Attacking a Western Australian proposal to legalise brothels, the editor of Perth's Catholic paper says that the government should consider a Swedish model that decriminalises sex workers but criminalises their clients.

Peter Rosengren, editor of The Record newspaper, has attacked Attorney-General Jim McGinty's proposed prostitution laws, which would allow brothels to operate legally, Perth Now reports.

"The evidence we have indicates pretty comprehensively that in Australia and elsewhere around the world, when you simply decriminalise or legalise prostitution, you get an explosion in the sex industry," Mr Rosengren said.

"But one example, which almost everyone universally points to as improving the welfare and the status of women and girls, is the Swedish model.

"It has decriminalised the women and girls, and it has criminalised the clients who create the market, which helps take away that market and reduces the incidence.

"It has offered exit strategies to women trapped in prostitution because it destroys them.

"The victims are always the girls and women. They are, first and foremost, victims of sexual violence."

In the latest edition of the Catholic newspaper, he says prostitution is a form of slavery.

"The Record does not believe that you can put a dollar value on a woman or a girl,'' he said.

"Simply to decriminalise it is, essentially, to decriminalise slavery.

"You wouldn't apply that principle to anything else, like the manufacture of cocaine or heroin, or methamphetamines, or any other thing which is considered to be harmful to the individual."

Exit strategies, combined with a push to change police attitudes, should include tackling drug addiction and providing refuges.

He said the Prostitution Law Reform Working Group, whose recommendations were the basis of the Government's new laws, should not have discarded the Swedish option in favour of a decriminalised model.

In February, Mr McGinty announced the Government was drafting laws after the working group recommended a "minimalist, decriminalised model".

Brothel and escort agency operators and managers would be regulated by the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.

Brothels would be subject to local government planning approval. Streetwalking and kerb crawling would remain illegal.

Catholics hit at sex laws (Perth Now, 4/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Catholic Record
Catholic Archdiocese of Perth

Vatican call to punish prostitution clients (CathNews, 13/7/05)
Vatican Calls for Pastoral Reflection on "Women of the Street" (CathNews, 17/6/05)

4 Jun 2007