Ending prostitution, an optimistic view
by Steven Vella
Paper for the Sexual Integrity Forum (SI Forum)
Main Committee Room, Parliament House
8-9th August 2005
Addressing objective 5) Advocate for the ending of sexual slavery - in particular the end of international trafficking in women for sexual slavery and prostitution in Australia.
This paper is an expression of basic ideas and experiences that have guided me through the long and winding path to marriage in our modern and free society. As we grow, information about sexuality and human relations is now more accessible and comes from many sources. Some sources that try to influence us have our best interests in mind while others do not. A simple look at the following information I hope will help in discerning which actions and laws encourage sexual integrity and which do not.
The outcomes to be derived from this paper will be to
"change misconceptions of prostitution and brothels
"change legislation and prevent further occurrences and
"encourage individual action.
The aim is to explain why I optimistically believe change can be made in our laws and in our actions to help remove prostitution, pornography and ownership of legal brothels that result in sex slavery.
Synopsis of Expected outcomes
Change misconceptions of prostitution and brothels
In influencing the government to make changes the image that prostitution in a legal brothel is different and better than working in an illegal brothel has to be corrected. More recognition of the harm physically, spiritually and psychologically, caused to prostitutes and customers should be exposed. This would include the after affects of abortion, transmission of diseases and marital break-ups caused by the very nature of prostitution involving non-exclusive sex with multiple partners and in spite of the cautions and rules that would be made to try and prevent these affects. Allowing the debate to cover these areas ensure society does not get complacent with the technicalities of administering the brothels and prostitutes but concentrates on the concern that every member of the community is to be protected and helped.
Change legislation and prevent further occurrences
In NSW, state legislation allows prostitution and owning brothels. This is a hindrance. The Disorderly Houses Amendment Act, 1995, was introduced by the Minister for Police and was justified to prevent corrupt police from extorting money from the brothel owners and prostitutes (The Regulation of Prostitution: A Review of Recent Developments. Page 5. Stewart Smith, November 1999). This does not solve the real issue of women and men using another person without true commitment, respect and love for each other, which, their sexual behaviour is calling out for. It is unfortunate that the debate does not continue, in order to recognise that human sexuality should not be used to use people as objects, but, instead to be part of their human dignity which deserves respect and to help them achieve their best.
Encourage individual action
Finally, on top of the Government and community recognising the importance of every member of society and attempting to keep them from harm, we as individuals should remain open to the opportunities to help those in need. Whether, it is on the grand scale of Frank Duff in Bentley Place, or in attendance and contribution to the SI forum, or on a small scale such as asking our local shops to remove pornography from the view of children, or informing our State member of our concern on this topic, we may be pleasantly surprised at who in our society will work with us and what results will occur. Importantly, we will also see the people it will benefit, especially the prostitutes, their customers, the families of both and our society.
Phew, getting to 40 (a brief biography).
Wow, I'm just about 40, married and have a fifteen-month-old baby girl with another child on the way. Each of you attending the SI Forum and/or reading this paper will have a scenario and decisive moments where people, knowledge and experiences now influence the life you lead. Learning from our mistakes and successes can be an opportunity to share our experiences and knowledge to bring good outcomes for future lives and families.
As a young boy I remember situations where I learnt and tested what social contact was permissible within our family and to a lesser extent with people outside the family. As a school child and then a teenager, my circle of influence grew to include peers and older people who had varying degrees of experience. Fortunately, my family and our beliefs kept me from severe harm due to any detrimental experiences. However, as a youth and young adult, I progressed from a co-ed Catholic high school, to University with an active social life, entering the workforce and involved in theatre, I found freedom to make choices in work, play, social, spiritual and sexual aspects of my life. What a relief it is to now be married, older and hopefully wiser with the opportunity to pass on some information to others who are looking for an ideal rather than the situations they find themselves in.
Influences (trying to balance all aspects of life) .
I provided a summarised biography as a background to analyse the influences in the latter half of my life, which helped me to find courage to do good works and to find other people who work together to face the onslaught of prostitution and pornography in our society.
Dating - Going out with female friends, an opportunity to understand what love could be, to know I am attractive to members of the opposite gender, bringing personality, knowledge and skills to our community of two and helping the other person. Learning I can trust another to bring the same into the relationship. Practising fidelity and being chaste. Also defining what aspects of a relationship are not loving, what is manipulation and what is using the other person for your own agenda. Best of all, the realisation that fulfilment of love is found in marriage.
Family - A close friendship with family helped inspire community. Being part of a family and obeying the rules of the household helped in understanding restrictions and a perception of authority (which is a precursor to our being part of society).
Social and theatre life - A world of insight, communication, uplifting of heart and mind and the application of learned things to help others grow in their knowledge and understanding of the world. This balances with experimentation, and focussing on tragedy, despair and base actions which may scandalise the heart and mind.
The internet - A source of information, a meeting place for people and a forum for discussions on all areas of life and knowledge. If misused, it can be an environment for immoral activities and the coming together of like minded people intent on causing harm.
Faith - Youth groups, information and church groups. Here is a source of peer encouragement, social meetings and the development of moral and beneficial activities. At the same time it is also prone to using a hundred percent of your effort, may be influenced by faults of human relationships, politics and personal agendas.
Faith, and acting in faith, has been the most effective source of change. It is from examples of people acting in faith that inspires me to take small actions every day to do good and especially hope in the change of attitude of our society to protect women from working as prostitutes and prevent both the single and family men using their services.
Attachment 3: Readings and actions (Heroes inspiring action)
Members of the community (especially associated with the church) act and speak heroically to protect the dignity and respect of those around us. I now include readings as well as the actions of myself and others who act ambitiously and courageously to remove prostitution and pornography from our society. The support of these people and acting on our call to keep our society good is where I believe legislation is important. Even if legislation doesn't do this we should take individual actions to help whenever we are called to.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Pope John Paul II published the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to help Catholics to see clearly what is asked of us to live happily in line with natural law and with the benefit of the revealed knowledge from God.
The sections in the CCC referring to marriage are quite profound and sensitive. I include them to provide an ideal that we can measure our actions against.
III the Love of husband and Wife
2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses become a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.
2361 "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realised in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death. ...
2362 "The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honourable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude." Sexuality is source of joy and pleasure: …
2363 The spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
The conjugal love of man and woman this stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.
The following paragraph is one of a number of paragraphs pointing out the offenses against chastity. Other offences include lust, masturbation, fornication, pornography and rape. The paragraph on prostitution explains why prostitution hurts us and how it comes about.
2355 Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Prostitution is a social scourge. It usually involves women, but also men, children and adolescents (The latter two cases involve the added sin of scandal.). While it is always gravely sinful to engage in prostitution, the imputability of the offense can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail, or social pressure.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (Pocket edition) St. Pauls June 1995 Page 565
The effects of the Legion of Mary have reached Wagga Wagga. A men's group, met each week with one of its intentions being to meet with the prostitutes at the first legal brothel and to hopefully lead to its miraculous closure. It has only been through this organisation that the courage to visit such a place was possible for men of good standing in the community. At this time, the brothel is still open but it continues to be a concern for decent people in the community.
The council has since voted to let another brothel open. There was public dissent at the meetings, for both applications but the councils' inaction has led to an unhealthy perspective of not pursuing right, especially in light of the possibility of council being taken to the Land and Environment courts by the brothel owners legal advisors.
There is also an adult book and novelty store on the slower business end of the main street. Evidence was obtained proving that it traded X-rated videos against the law. Although the police raided the business and confiscated 100's of videos the sex-shop continues to trade and leaves the community wondering what is to happen.
There have been a number of towns that have successfully prevented a brothel from opening. Towns and suburbs such as Mildura, Armidale and Marrickville. Some have been due to the strict requirements of their local environment plan and others because of community pressure. "Mr Torbay said yesterday that no brothel application had ever been approved in Armidale. " … ""If it is good enough for local councils to make decisions about what is appropriate in zoning and development, why is it not appropriate for councils to determine whether brothels should be allowed in their areas," Mr Torbay said." Torbay steps in to help stop brothels, by Emma Gibbs. Tuesday, 15 February 2005 The Inverell Times
One year after the Netherlands legalised brothels, the Dutch government no longer discuss the morality of prostitution and owning a brothel, instead they are battling between gaining "legal control over a workplace that was a great cover for all sorts of illegal activity" or about obtaining "decent labor conditions". p13, Melbourne Express August 13, 2001
On television, I remember watching a documentary about a man who helped save two girls under 18 from a brothel in a country like Indonesia. The girls had been taken from a farm and sold to a brothel in the city. The man organised an uncle of one of the girls to come to the city and help get her back to her family. He also gained the support of local business men who thought it scandalous for girls to work at the brothel against their free will. When the uncle met his niece, the girl cried and hid in disgrace. When she was asked if she wanted to come home she said yes if she would be accepted. Fortunately, a second girl who was from the same district was also found and given the chance to go home. The documentary ended showing how the families and the girls reunited and the opportunity this gave them to share in a family life again,
Last year debate in NSW State Parliament looked at local government having greater authority to close illegal brothels. It considers legal brothels are a planning issue rather than a policing issue. This is clever debating tactic, which although it appears to be concerned about a brothels, avoids dealing with the respect/reform of the prostitute and ensuring the community is doing the best for all its members. "Second Reading Debate resumed from 23 September 2004. Mr ANDREW TINK (Epping) [10.40 a.m.]: … Unfortunately, there are illegal brothels in the electorates of most members, and the Government accepts that it is a planning issue rather than a policing issue. It must support the bill to ensure that councils have the necessary powers, through proper planning policy, to close illegal brothels." What about closure of all brothels and the reform of prostitutes?