This is an essay I wrote for a yr11 legal studies assessment. The Task Description was "Evaluate the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice in relation to your choseb contemporary domestic issue". I got a 15/25 for this essay and would love some additional feedback. Thank you.The Legalisation of Prostitution in NSW
Prostitution, the world's oldest profession, goes back to as early as Ancient Greece. However, this does not make it a well respected occupation. Though it is generally tolerated, it is frowned upon in many societies for numerous reasons. The law concerning this contemporary issue differs between countries. Prostitution is illegal in some countries while authorities of others just turn a blind eye. Many countries understand that prostitution is often linked with exploitation, so it is legal to be a prostitute but illegal to be a client or a 'pimp'.
In Australia, the laws regarding the sex industry vary from state to state. In 1908, legislation was passed in NSW that made 'soliciting by women an offence for the first time'. However, prostitution laws began to be liberalised under the Prostitution Act 1979. After amendments to legislations, the latest reform in NSW is the Brothels Legislation Act 2007 which permits brothels, provided that the owner has a license from the local council. NSW is also the only state to allow soliciting on the streets. The legalisation of prostitution received different responses both sides are supported by legal and non-legal groups.
Prostitution was officially legalised in NSW under the Disorderly Houses Amendment Act 1995. This legislation also gave the Supreme Court the right to close down any disorderly house and stated that a disorderly house declaration could not be made based purely on the fact that the premises were a brothel. This legislation was passed by the Minister for Police, Hon Paul Whelan MP, expressing that he introduced the Bill in recognition of Sibuse v Shaw and in an attempt to eliminate the possibility of future police corruption. After much debate in Parliament, taking into account moral and religious issues, the legislation was passed with the support of the Opposition.
Prostitution was legalised with hopes that it would improve neighborhood safety, reduce crime, promote health and privacy as well as benefit both workers and clients. The government's authority to close down unlicensed brothels (1995) meant that disturbance to the community would be avoided. As the legalisation signified the recognition of prostitution as an official and legal profession, prostitutes working at licensed brothels were subject to all the rights of any other worker, such as the Anti Discrimination Act 1977. As prostitution, especially in NSW, was often linked with organised crime, the legalisation, enabled increased surveillance and aimed to cease this link. The legalisation also aimed to promote the health and privacy of sex workers and benefited not only the workers but their clients as well. It meant that clients could purchase and engage in affection which they may not normally experience. For example, a disabled man told researchers, "I'm ugly, no woman will go out with me...It's because of my disability. So prostitutes are a sexual outlet for me."
There are many NGOs who support the decriminalisation of sex work and promote sex workers' rights. The Scarlet Alliance is the Australian Sex Workers' Association and aims 'to achieve equality, social, legal, political, cultural and economic justice for past and present workers in the sex industry'. Project Futures is a global, non-profit organisation, which began in Australia and aims to combat sex trafficking. Regardless of all the NGOs such as Project Futures campaigning avidly against sex slavery, it, unfortunately still happens, as demonstrated in R v Wei Tang (2009). According to Austlii, the DPP alleged that in the years 2002 and 2003, Tang enslaved five women from Thailand and required them to each work off a debt of between $40 000 and $45 000, by having sex with men in Australia. The women worked illegally using their tourist visas at Club 417, a licensed brothel in Fitzroy. In this case, it can be argued that the legalisation of prostitution permitted the continuation of the premises which ultimately led to Tang's enslaving of the women. On the other hand, it can also be argued that the decriminalising enabled authority to monitor and raid the brothel, resulting in the discovery of the women on 31st May, 2003.
Despite all the reasons and groups supporting the legalisation of prostitution, there are, also many groups against this act. Many religious and humanitarian groups believe that the legalisation means a commercialism of the sex industry, creating a culture out of prostitution. They also argue that the reasons for legalising sex work are invalid and that legalising prostitution would not fix anything. For example, a 2009 report in the Daily Telegraph showed that only 1 in 4 Sydney brothels were licensed. This illustrates that the legalisation of prostitution does little in the monitoring of brothels as majority of the operations are illegal.
During the time leading up to the March 2011 election, the usually bipartisanship on prostitution policy in NSW was broken by the NSW Liberal party. They announced that prostitution reform would be a part of their campaign and that it would involve a new licensing authority, due to reports of the expansion and commercialism of the sex industry. The opposition stated that the NSW brothel scene was very much involved with organised crime, police corruption, coercion and drug abuse. This movement by the NSW Liberal Party did not have a major impact on society as they lost that election. However, their claims about the prostitution being involved with organised crime and police corruption were true, as proved by the findings of the Royal Commission of Australia, especially in Kings Cross during the 1980's and 1990's.
More recently, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) found Wade Fryar, a former Parramatta City Council worker, accepting both cash and sexual favours from sex workers and brothel owners in exchange for overlooking illegal prostitution. Fryar was the leader of the Parramatta Council Unit whose job it was to investigate illegal prostitution and close down unlicensed brothels. However, according to an article, in ABC News, written by Jamelle Wells, Fryar accepted free sexual services from at least five prostitutes and corrupt payments from brothel owners, totaling up to $40 000, between 2003 and February 2007. The aim of the legalisation of prostitution was to control and close down illegal brothels. However, this is clearly not being achieved in the Wade Fryar Case, as the corrupt councillor, misuses his power to his own advantage and for his own pleasure.
According to a press release titled 'Survivors of Prostitution and Trafficking Manifesto' (2005), women who were once victims of sex trafficking declared that "prostitution is violence against women"and that they had often experienced physical violence, rape and degradation from clients, police officers and many other people. They stated that the legalisation of prostitution was "giving pimps and buyers legal permission to abuse women in prostitution". However, these women only represent the prostitutes who were forced into the sex work by poverty, coercion, past sexual abuse and the like. There is a growing number of women entering the sex industry by choice and these women argue that the law should allow them to do whatever they wish with their bodies. They also assert that the legalisation increases their freedom in making decisions and that declaring prostitution as illegal would be discriminating against women, taking away their rights and limiting their work choices.
Does the legalistion of prostitution enable brothel owners, clients and others mistreat sex workers, or does it empower women giving them freedom to make their own choices regarding their bodies? The legalisation of prostitution in NSW had many aims, but few have been achieved. Unfortunately, some people have chosen to take advantage of this legislation, thereby worsening the problems. At present, the legalisation of prostitution in NSW has not achieved the desired justice, but with increase in monitoring of brothels and less corruption in society, the legalisation may prove to be effective.