Who's Pushing the Nordic-style of Criminalisation in SA?

Discussion about the Nordic Criminal model continues because people in powerful positions misrepresent the impact of criminalisation on sex workers. In South Australia there are only a few people that want sex work criminalised this way. They work to silence sex workers & spread false information.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), like in the debate on marriage equality, have set up faux community groups to pretend there is community opposition to the popular reform of decriminalisation.

Amanda Brohier, anti-choice activist, author of anti-abortion propaganda & wife of ACL’s SA Director, claims to chair a community group called Women Ending Exploitation in Prostitution (WEEP) who “speak for the vulnerable”. The “vulnerable” people WEEP speak for are usually the same couple of women from overseas that ACL fly around the world to tell stories of trafficking & violence (not sex work).

WEEP make many claims on their website, to Members of Parliament, & in Parliamentary submissions using citations that, if actually read, undermine their arguments.

Here are some claims made by WEEP & the references they use

  1. “The legalisation of prostitution has been shown to increase trafficking.”

Legalisation & decriminalisation are two very different things, but WEEP use the terms as interchangeable. Also, the paper referenced for their claim reports the opposite –

Seo-Young, C 2013, ‘Does Legalised Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?’, World Development l. 41, no. 1, pp. 67-82

The paper used actually concluded it is –

perhaps impossible to find hard evidence establishing a relationship between sex work demand and human trafficking inflows” (p. 80).

It also classified Sweden (first to implement the Nordic Criminal model in 1999) as having ‘medium human trafficking inflows’ placing it in the same category as New Zealand which decriminalised sex work in 2003.

  1. The legalisation of sex work increased “demand for prostitution.”

 The reference used for this claim is –

New Zealand Government 2008, Report of the Prostitution Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, New Zealand Ministry of Justice, Wellington, pp. 118-119.

The reference discusses a comparison of street-based sex worker numbers in New Zealand post-decriminalisation (not legalisation) in 2006 & 2007. The report states the only area to experience an increase in number of street-based sex workers was Auckland & because two different methods were used for each count, the first number collected in 2006 is an over estimation & must be used with extreme caution. The report referenced concluded –

“The Committee endorses the findings of the CSOM (Christchurch School of Medicine) study that ‘the number of street-based sex workers have remained stable since the enactment of the PRA, with comparable numbers on the streets to estimates done prior to decriminalisation’.” (p. 119).

Another important point is that the claim made is that “demand for prostitution” increased overall but the referenced report not only did not find an increase, but it only review the number of street-based sex workers. In New Zealand (as the report details) street-based sex work is approximately 5.4% of the whole sex industry. In SA, street-based is approximately 1-2% of the whole sex industry.

  1. In jurisdictions with the Nordic Criminal model “violence against prostituted women has decreased.”

WEEP claim violence against sex workers decreased under the Nordic Criminal model using this reference –

2015 blog post: ‘Remembering the Murdered Women Erased by the Pro-Sex Work Agenda’ on FeministCurrent.com

The reference is not a peer-reviewed article, study, or submission but rather a blog post about Eva*, a Swedish woman murdered by her ex-husband. It does not support claims that criminalising sex work reduced violence. The blog instead details how Eva, who had previously worked as a sex worker in Sweden, had her children removed from her custody after her past sex work was reported to social services. Her children were removed & placed into the custody of Eva’s abusive ex with Eva not allowed any visitation. Eva fought for over two years to be able to see her children again & it was in the first supervised visitation that Eva’s abusive ex stabbed her to death in a social worker’s office.

Internationally sex worker organisations spoke out after Eva’s murder saying if sex work were not criminalised in Sweden, Eva’s children would not have been removed and placed in the custody of her abusive ex-husband & he would not have been able to murder Eva during the supervised visit. However, the blog claims that because Eva was not murdered by “a john” (a client) & was murdered by her ex-husband, it is not a reflection on Sweden’s criminalisation of sex work through the Nordic Criminal Model.