by Sabrina Johnson
Kings Cross, or ‘The Cross’, as many call it today, has been know as being the “Amsterdam of the South Pacific” (Herald Sun, 2010) right here in a suburb of Sydney. If you’re anything like me, hearing the news that prostitution is legal was flooring. Each state in Oz has their own restrictive laws that control the prostitution industry, however the running of a registered brothel is legal throughout the whole of Australia. The catch here is that registered brothels are legal. Currently, there is a widespread issue of illegal brothels that are not only unregistered, but also using trafficked women and children as their employees. For Sydney, in 2010, there were 90 suspected illegal brothels being operated, and there is no doubt that this number has increased as the demand has increased.
Due to this uprising in illegal prostitution activities, many Australian’s today are questioning the decision of making prostitution legal in their country. All over the news you can see a rage behind the prostitution laws that Australia has implemented and how those laws have created more harm then good. The Daily Telegraph said, “legal brothels are out of control in western Sydney’s sex industry” (The Telegraph, 2012) and a West Australia article discussed the pressure that government is facing to vote down the prostitution bill.
The aspect of this current topic of debate that has been increasingly appalling to me is the fact that these laws are making a way for human trafficking to become an easier illegal activity. “High growth has forced pimps to forge international supply routes to source their ‘product’, which, in the case of the sex industry, is mostly women and children” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2011). Due to the high demand of sexual partners, pimps are beginning to see a profit in kidnapping or shipping females from other countries in order to sneak around fair pay wages and appropriate worker conditions.
Something noteworthy is that fact that there can be some pros when it comes to legalizing something as dangerous, yet popular, as prostitution. The registered, legal, brothels in Australia are run as businesses, thus, must report to the government and pay taxes. According to a recent report from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), “Ten brothels, the subject of a recent ATO project in the Sydney area, resulted in additional revenue of $480,000 [to the government]” (Gallagher, B). This is an incredible amount of money that is promoting the growth of the Australian economy. In addition, prostitution laws allow the government to better control and protect those working within the walls of registered brothels keeping the women safer and healthier.
Even with the positive aspects of the prostitution laws, I’m still not convinced. With Australia being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, do they really need the taxation revenue, especially at the cost of their nations moral and ethical standards? Even though the laws that claim to be protecting the women working within this industry, what about the majority that are not working in registered, legal brothels? If Australia began to form laws against prostitution, it would leave less room for illegal activity, allow for harsher punishments, and convict and decrease those involved in trafficking. So what do you think is more important: upholding a high ethical standard or creating a wealthier, more dangerous society?
Gallagher, B. (n.d.) Taxation And The Sex Industry. [online] Available at: http://www.aic.gov.au/en/publications/previous%20series/proceedings/1-27/~/media/publications/proceedings/14/gallagher.pdf [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].
Herald Sun (2010) Sydney The Brothel Capital of The South Pacific. [online] Available at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/sydney-the-brothel-capital-of-the-south-pacific/story-e6frf7l6-1225952320313 [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].
The Sydney Morning Herald (2011) Sex Trafficking In Australia. [online] Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/its-time-to-get-serious-about-sex-trafficking-in-australia-20111012-1lkzi.html [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].
The Telegraph (2012) A Fight to Turn off the Red Lights in Rydalmere. [online] Available at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/a-fight-to-turn-off-the-red-lights-in-rydalmere/story-e6freuy9-1225952354505 [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].
The Western Australian (2012) Boost For Prostitution Reform Laws. [online] Available at: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/13678448/boost-for-prostitution-reform-laws/ [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].