South Australian MP leads the way in combatting the exploitation of women in prostitution

South Australian MP leads the way in combatting the exploitation of women in prostitution

It was an honour to have South Australian Liberal MLC Nicola Centofanti come and speak to us in Adelaide over the weekend about the critical work she is doing to combat the exploitation of women in prostitution.

On 5 June 2024, Ms Centofanti introduced an Australia-first bill designed to offer comprehensive exit strategies for individuals involved in prostitution, granting those who seek to exit the sex industry immunity from existing criminal laws.

The bill recognises that for many women, prostitution is not a ‘choice’, but the culmination of desperate circumstances including trauma, poverty and abuse.

The bill follows Ms Centofanti’s attempt to introduce a broader Nordic Model style prostitution law reform bill, which acknowledged the inherently exploitative nature of prostitution, addressed its demand by criminalising the buyer and decriminalising the seller, and supported vulnerable women to exit the industry. The bill was voted down by a single vote on 1 May 2024.

Bills to decriminalise prostitution in South Australia have been rejected 13 times. The extraordinarily close nature of this vote away from harmful decriminalisation laws towards Nordic Model style reform is incredibly encouraging.

This is the first time bills of this kind have been introduced in Australia, and the significant support they have received gives hope that we are on our way to catching up to the genuinely pro-woman approach to prostitution introduced in other jurisdictions, which recognises that prostitution is a human rights violation of women, and seeks to abolish it.

This approach has been adopted in countries like Sweden, France and Canada, and has most recently been affirmed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls.

We applaud Ms Centofanti for her efforts to combat the sexual objectification and exploitation of women and girls.

Women will never be treated equally while also treated as commodities to be bought and sold by men. And we cannot end violence against women, while the violent commodification of women’s bodies is promoted by our governments as ‘work’.

Read more about our position on South Australia's prostitution laws here.

Women’s Forum Australia is an independent think tank that undertakes research, education and public policy advocacy on issues affecting women and girls, with a particular focus on addressing behaviours and practices that are harmful and abusive to them. We are a non-partisan, non-religious, tax-deductible charity. We do not receive any government funding and rely solely on donations to make an impact. Support our work today.

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