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Adele seeks funding for women in prostitution to exit

Fremantle Independent MP Adele Carles has called on MPs to stop playing politics over the issue of prostitution reform and back her call for a much-needed shelter for women who wish to exit the prostitution industry in WA.

Ms Carles says it appears likely the Prostitution Bill will pass and so she is seeking to amend the legislation to achieve something for women wanting to exit the industry.

“This is an industry that makes money out of the sale of women’s bodies for men’s sexual gratification and often involves violence and long term physical, psychological and emotional harm to women,” Ms Carles said.

Ms Carles’ 3 amendments recognise the harm to women caused by prostitution. Specifically, her 3 amendments seek to;
(1) Remove the criminal focus from the women in prostitution.
The amendment removes the imprisonment penalty from clause 10 and replaces it with a fine. This moves the Bill towards the Swedish model, which places the criminal focus on the buyer and removes it from the seller.

(2) Ensure brothel owners do not employ under-age girls
This amendment increases the penalty in clause 41(2) from 5 years to 14 years imprisonment for a brothel owner who employs a child.

(3) Establishment of a women’s shelter and services – Part 10 –Prostitution Account
Ms Carles is seeking genuine exit funding in this legislation, with a commitment of at least $5million for a women’s shelter with running costs of $400,000 per annum to employ support staff, to support women in prostitution exit the industry. To exit prostitution, women need access to various services, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation, psychological counselling, medical treatment, education and re-training.

“These amendments are focused on supporting women who want to exit the industry and they move some way towards the Swedish model,” Ms Carles said.

“There is an opportunity here to help women move out of the sex work industry through a properly funded shelter with support services,” she said.

“I have met with Mission Australia, who already provide outreach services for youth and homeless people in Australia, about a business model that could be developed for this shelter in Perth.”

“I call on all MPs, particularly those who are yet undecided (Janet Woollard, Peter Abetz and Graeme Jacobs) to support my amendments to provide a chance for women to extricate themselves from this harmful environment,” the Fremantle Independent said.

Adele Carles travelled to Scandinavia this year to speak with policy makers and social workers about the Swedish model, implemented in 1999, which criminalised the buyer rather than the seller of sex. The law was premised on the notion of gender equality and targets men, as the consumers, recognising that prostitution is violence against women. The Swedish model has been successful in halving street prostitution, reducing trafficking and changing attitudes towards women. Its success has led to its adoption in neighbouring European countries.

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