10 August 2009

Research by UQ’s Human Trafficking Working Group, led by a law academic, has found that after 10 years of brothel licensing in Queensland, most of the state’s prostitution industry remains unregulated or illegal.

These findings will be the topic of a University of Queensland public lecture, Happy Birthday Brothels, taking place at 5.30pm on Monday September 21 as part of UQ’s Research Week.

Together with a team of students, TC Beirne School of Law Associate Professor Andreas Schloenhardt has undertaken a review of patterns in contemporary prostitution in Queensland, 10 years after the application of the Prostitution Act 1999.

“Current legislation is very restricted and limited to the operation of legal brothels and to services offered by sole operators outside public spaces," Dr Sschloenhardt said.

"This accounts for only 10 percent of Queensland’s prostitution industry and does not include escort agencies (outcall prostitution offered by brothels or other agencies), street prostitution, and the operation of unlicensed brothels, including the sharing of premises by more than one sex worker.

"These activities, some 90 percent of the prostitution industry, remain either unregulated or illegal.”

Despite general support for a licensed sex industry in Queensland, Dr Schloenhardt said many underlying concerns remained.

“There are concerns within the community about the efficiency of the current licensing system, unregulated and illegal forms of prostitution, the trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation into legal and illegal brothels, as well as the possibility of regulating escort services," he said.

"The public lecture on September 21 explores these concerns in the context of the stated goals and practical operation of prostitution regulation in Queensland.”

Dr Schloenhardt said that a Queensland government report has also noted that the spirit of the Prostitution Act 1999, which was to draw as many of the illegal operators and workers as possible into the legal industry, has clearly failed.

Legalising some parts of the industry, while policing and suppressing illegal forms of prostitution has not eliminated the existence of, and demand for, illegal brothels, escort agencies, and street prostitution.

Also contributing to the relatively high levels of illegal prostitution is the fact that prosecutions and convictions of offenders are few and far between.

The public lecture will be held on Monday, September 21, 2009, 5.30pm, at UQ’s St Lucia campus, Steele Building (Building 3), Room 206.

For more information about the public lecture visit www.law.uq.edu.au/humantrafficking

Media: Dr Andreas Schloenhardt, 07 3365 6191, a.schloenhardt@law.uq.edu.au

Lynda Flower, School of Law, 07 3365 2523, l.flower@law.uq.edu.au

RSVP for the lecture: genevieve.beirne@uqconnect.edu.au