New figures show absence of sex trafficking cases in South Australia ahead of vote on decriminalization

Today’s vote on sex work decriminalization is expected to be close

New figures show just four people in South Australia have been fined for offering prostitution services.  ahead of a crucial vote for campaigners seeking to decriminalize sex work today.

Data from the courts obtained by the ABC shows that only 57 fines were issued for sex work offenses for the three-year period between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2019.

Another 57 ‘good behaviour bonds’ have been ordered, while three people been handed suspended sentences.

In the three-year period, 146 charges resulted in penalties being issued, but some offenders may have been charged with multiple offenses.

The vast majority of charges relate to managing a brothel or receiving money in a brothel.

Sex trafficking and servitude in the industry has been identified by police as a priority concern for officers, along with organized crime, child abuse and drug trafficking.

However the Attorney-General’s department said zero sex trafficking matters were finalized in South Australian courts in the past three years.

A bill that would scrap the offenses and decriminalize the sex work industry is currently before Parliament and is scheduled to face a crucial vote in the Lower House this morning.

‘We receive complaints from the public’

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said officers did not actively seek out sex workers to prosecute.

“We receive complaints from the public and we follow up on those complaints,” Mr Stevens said.

“There are resources that are committed to it, but we’d rather put those resources elsewhere.”

He said while police had no view on the merits of decriminalization, the bureaucrat said he strongly believed there needed to be an “appropriate regulatory framework”.

“We don’t want to see an industry that’s exposed to vulnerabilities that would allow for organized crime infiltration,” he said.

This bill is the 13th attempt by sex workers to change prostitution laws.

Sex Industry Network general manager Kat Morrison said there was an imbalance between the reality of the industry and the “perceived reality”.

“There is an ongoing conflation between sex trafficking, sex slavery, and the sex industry,” she said.

“A lot of the concerns put forward by politicians are alarmist and they’re not evidence-based.”

Many MPs have raised concerns about sex workers soliciting on the street and the locations of brothels in their electorates.

“Sex workers are generally incredibly discrete; we don’t want to work near places of worship, or near childcare centres, or near schools,” Ms Morrison said.

“That’s not good business practice.”

First test of parliamentary numbers set to be close

A defeat on the second reading vote would kill off the bill in Parliament, while a success would allow it to go to the committee stage where a series of amendments would be debated.

The bill has already passed the Upper House, but today marks the first test of the numbers in the Lower House.

All parliamentarians have been granted a conscience vote, and MPs on both sides of the debate believe the vote will be very close.

Sources on both sides have told the ABC they believe the bill will narrowly pass through to the next stage of Parliamentary debate.

Today’s vote gives an indication of the support in Parliament for changing the law, but MPs are free to change their mind before a final vote.


523880cookie-checkNew figures show absence of sex trafficking cases in South Australia ahead of vote on decriminalization

New figures show absence of sex trafficking cases in South Australia ahead of vote on decriminalization

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