KASAMA Vol. 13 No. 2 / April-May-June 1999 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
Mail Address: PO Box
1323, Collingwood Vic. 3066 Australia
Office Address: First floor, 124 Napier Street, Fitzroy Vic. 3065 Australia
Phone: 61 3 9416 3401
Fax: 61 3 9417 0833
It is eighteen months since Cecilia Hofmann and Melvi Galacio were in Australia for the 'Women Cannot be Bought' speaking tour. I am writing with great excitement to let your know that since then a new Melbourne organisation working with women in prostitution has been born - Project Respect. I hope this letter will also update you about other developments challenging the sexual exploitation of women around the world.
Project Respect - a new project with women in prostitution
Project Respect involves a number of people who were instrumental in Cecilia and Melvi's tour, and addresses many of the concerns they raised at that time.
Project Respect is very new -we were incorporated only December last year- and we are keen to involve more people in the project. If you are interested in
or you can suggest someone else who might be, please contact us. If you have other ideas about ways you would like to be involved, please don't hesitate to let us know about them.
Organising Globally against Sexual Exploitation
There are a number of other developments that you may be interested in. In January this year, over 400 people participated in the "Organising Globally Against Sexual Exploitation" Conference held in Bangladesh. One of the highlights of the conference was the participation of survivors from Bangladesh, Nepal, the United States and the Philippines.
"We are ostracized by our families and
are outcast in our communities. Institutions in society
blame us. They say we are a plague on the nation. They
blame us for the break up of families and so-called
morality. But we have a question: Who uses us? Who
violates us? Who actually gains from our income? And why
are we in this dehumanizing condition?"
Statement of the Filipino survivors of prostitution 1998
The statement of Filipino survivors is a powerful document. [See quote above… Ed.] Let us know if you would like a copy of the whole statement.
Information about the conference can be found on the Coalition against Trafficking in Women website at http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/catw/conf.htm
Research on prostitution
The Coalition's website also has a wealth of other information, including links to sites such as http://www.prostitutionresearch.com which has powerful new research looking at post traumatic stress syndrome among people in prostitution. The research included almost 500 people across five countries, and clearly outlines both the violence within the sex industry and its impact on men, women and children.
Several other important resources have recently been published. For those of you who enjoyed Cecilia Hofmann's dynamic presentations during the speaking tour, the Coalition against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific has just published a primer written by her called Questions and Issues on Prostitution. [See extracts in QUESTIONS AND ISSUES ON PROSTITUTION: What We Need To Know ..Ed.] It is short, succinct and visually striking - an ideal introduction to issues related to prostitution and the international sex industry. Project Respect has a limited number of the booklet, which cost AUD$8 (including postage in Australia).
You may also be interested in a number of publications coming out from the Coalition's US office:
Pimps and Predators on the Internet: Globalising the Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children - A Report, by Donna M. Hughes (US$16, including postage).
Making the Harm Visible: The Global Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls: Speaking Out and Providing Services, edited by Donna M. Hughes and Claire M. Roche (US$13, including postage).
You can order copies, by sending a money order, payable to The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, to Donna M. Hughes, 316 Roosevelt Hall, University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island, USA 02881. Alternatively, Project Respect will be ordering some copies, and it may be possible for us to order in bulk, and save on postage. Contact us if you are interested in this option.
Swedish legislation decriminalising women in prostitution
Another recent development has been legislation totally decriminalising the sale of 'sexual services' - and so freeing women in prostitution from the fear of arrest and imprisonment - combined with the criminalisation of the buying of sexual services.
This resonates with the Bangladesh conference, which called for tougher sanctions for those who profit from prostitution, including customers, and for absolute decriminalisation of those used in prostitution, supported by better services for survivors.
Australian legislation on sexual servitude and slavery
Closer to home, the Australian Federal government has flagged legislation on sexual servitude and slavery. It is hoped that the legislation will get bi-partisan support, but there may also be a need for a bit more vocal lobbying on this issue in the next few months! At the same time, the Model Criminal Code Officers Committee held consultations into unified state legislation about the same issue, and has come out with recommendations. While these have been picked up by the Federal government in its legislation, there is a need for states to also legislate on this issue. I was involved in coordinating a community consultation here in Melbourne, and can forward you our recommendations if you are interested.
There have been many responses to the sex industry worldwide. For example, the US organisation SAGE recently won a prestigious award for innovation in community initiatives. SAGE is a survivor-run organisation, and conducts education sessions for men arrested for trying to buy 'sexual services'. They say that of almost 2,000 participants, only 2% have been re-arrested for the same offence.
There is not room in this letter to share other developments, but do contact Project Respect if you would like to know more.
All over the world, women are developing ways to challenge sexual exploitation. Here in Melbourne, Project Respect hopes to be part of this ongoing movement. If you would like to join us, contact us soon.
April 20, 1999