If you are an artist and you abuse a child, never fear: the art world has your back, writes Melinda Tankard Reist.
Artists who commit sexual violations are too often considered above the law and deserving of special treatment.
Their brilliance is given deferential treatment: they exist in another moral universe where the rules governing everyone else don’t apply. Oddly, this deference does not apply to parking tickets.
Whether the art objects are photographs, films, pieces of pottery or woven tapestries, their makers are often bestowed with godlike qualities. Queensland art gallery owner Andrew Baker describes Torres Strait Islander printmaker and sculptor Dennis Nona, for example, as having ‘invented the visual language of his people’. Simon Wright, author of Dennis Nona: Time After Time, marvels about Nona’s ‘reckoning of the universal lay fertile”.
When Nona, 42, was jailed for multiple child rapes in 2014 – he challenged the conviction, but lost his appeal in July – members of the art world rushed to prop up their idol. Art history professor Sasha Grishin, for example, wrote that he was “not in any way disputing the seriousness of the crimes” for which Nona was convicted, but insisted that he was “the most important artist to emerge from the Torres Strait in the past 50 years”.
Cairns Regional Gallery director Andrea May Churcher stated that art, over time, has a life beyond its creators, and that Nona’s objects should still be seen as “an important part of our cultural heritage and works”.
With so many accolades, the sexual torture of children is rendered almost subordinate.
Art historian and valuer Frances Cummings said he was “very supportive” of Nona: “He is a genius of an artist and the things he committed were when he was a very young man.”
Nona’s former arts manager, Michael Kershaw, told the ACT Supreme Court that Nona was a ‘role model’. With so many accolades, the sexual torture of children is rendered almost subordinate. Perhaps we need to be reminded of what Nona did.
In 1995, Nona moved in with a mother and two teenage daughters while attending a Canberra art school. He raped one of the girls over the course of a year until she became pregnant at the age of 13 and was reported to child protection services. (The pregnancy was terminated at 23 weeks. In the words of the judge, the girl “underwent a late stage termination, which was not a straightforward procedure”).
Court records indicate that harm to the girl has been long lasting in the terrible damage it has done to her. She has suffered suicidal thoughts.
In 2004 and again in 2006, Nona was arrested on a domestic violence offence as well as an assault against a woman who refused to have sex with him. A domestic violence order was served on him in 2006.
Nona has not just been propped up by bigwigs of the Australian art world. A 2012 court judgment records that “senior officers of the AFP… for reasons of convenience or, most likely, expense” did not charge Nona with child rape offences in 1998, despite their having “evidence that the applicant had the opportunity to commit the offences”, and “extremely strong DNA evidence” of his responsibility for the pregnancy.
In the judgment, the presiding judge acknowledged that many people would find this decision by the AFP “inappropriate, if not shocking”. Shocking or not, the Australian art world was the beneficiary of the AFP decision, because Nona’s exhibitions continued in Australia and overseas.
The Australian painter Donald Friend was a self-confessed paedophile.
Even when police finally charged Nona, he pleaded not guilty, made an application for a permanent stay of proceedings under the Human Rights Act, and failed to show remorse.
Other artists have played the art card throughout a life of the sexual abuse of others, without any such call to justice. For example, the Australian painter Donald Friend was a self-confessed paedophile. A documentary produced by Kerry Negara reported Friend’s boast, in his own diaries, of frequent sex with boys as young as nine and 10 while living in Bali.
A prominent curator, Barry Pearce, responded that paedophilia was not black and white – that Friend’s paedophilia was “on the light side of penumbra” and Friend was merely interested in notions of youth and the ideal of the beauty of the body.
In contrast, the Balinese boys – now grown – said that they felt exploited and harmed by the experience of being “appreciated” for their beauty by Friend. But Pearce said to call Friend a paedophile would be “shocking”.
At the same time, the Australian art world is backed by public institutions that promulgate their sexual values.
The “roll-over” feature of the National Gallery of Victoria website allows viewers to zoom in on the naked body of an underage girl, without any cautions or caveats about the digitalised collection, the identities of the children pictured, or any indication of the controversy around the photographs displayed.
The roll-over pictures are part of the 1985 “TCM” series that Bill Henson gave to the gallery in 2007, before it auctioned off some works in the series in 2008 (another earlier auctioned image was of an underage girl lying on her back naked, with legs spread).
The Australian art world staunchly defends Henson’s activities in producing and disseminating these pictures. Tolarno Galleries refused to reveal the age of the youngest naked girl in its exhibition.
Filmmaker Roman Polanski raped and sodomised a 13-year-old – whom he had lured to a photoshoot – after giving her alcohol and a quaalude, while she begged to be released. He faced charges and fled to Europe because a judge suggested he might put Polanski in prison.
Polanski’s defenders described him as a persecuted victim: he was such a wonderful person and how tawdry was it that he should be subjected to the law, and what a nightmare for the poor genius. He continues to be a celebrated director.
Gore Vidal was quoted in The Atlantic as saying: “I really don’t give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?”
No amount of whitewashing by the art establishment should be allowed to disguise the reality of the suffering of real victims.
Collective Shout takes credit for hastening Zoo’s demise: Coles dumping title was ‘catastrophic for sales’
Four months ago, young Melbourne activist and designer Laura Pintur, 23, launched a campaign through Collective Shout calling on Coles and Woolworths supermarket to act consistent with their corporate social responsibility, ethical framework, care for communities and commitment to safety and dump ‘men’s lifestyle Bible’ Zoo Weekly. She highlighted the way the lads’ mag promoted coercion, violence, sexism, misogyny and male entitlement. Laura’s Change.org petition attracted more than 39,000 signatures along with global media, including this video for The Guardian in which she argued the well being of girls should come before profits.
Last month Coles decided to discontinue the magazine, after a young Melbourne employee, Shannen, complained through her union that Coles was putting her and other female employees in a hostile workplace environment. “Other young women in my workforce will no longer have to put up with selling a magazine that promotes rape culture,” said Shannen after the decision.
Woolworths however decided to continue to act in breach of its own ethics, holding firm on selling sexual objectification to boys, including minors.
But now there will be no Zoo magazine to sell anywhere because it is ceasing publication. Mumbrella broke the news yesterday. While the magazine was already in decline, we believe we helped hasten that decline. News.com reports that when Coles bowed to public pressure and pulled the publication, this was “a move that would no doubt be catastrophic for the lad mag’s sales.”
Zoo Weekly has certainly grown accustomed to widespread outrage over the years, having been at the centre of a slew of heated controversies.
It had recently been in the firing line of a Change.org petition urging Australia’s major supermarkets to stop selling the magazine, arguing it promoted sexism, sexual violence and used the language of rapists.
Fueling sexist attitudes which contribute to violence against women
Last month I responded to a piece by Brendan O’Neill, in The Australian, critical of our campaign against Tyler the Creator and Zoo magazine. It appeared in the on-line version at News.com (paywall means only subscribers would see it). Following this, my colleague Caitlin Roper took down O’Neill’s claims against us regarding Tyler the Creator in an interview with ‘I probably hate your band’ (O’Neill is interviewed too). Have a look at it after my letter.
If only Zoo Weekly was a ‘jokey mag for awkward 15-year-olds.’ We – and the too many women and girls subjected to the kind of abuse Zoo promotes – don’t see the joke. (Brendan O’Neill ‘Foot soldiers of the Empire of offence march on, laying free speech to waste’, Inquirer. August 22-23, p.23).
Zoo normalises the treatment of women as sexual objects, fueling sexist behaviours and attitudes which underpin violence against women. The men’s ‘lifestyle Bible’ provides step by step instructions for coercing women into sex by isolating her from her friends and using alcohol to make her more vulnerable. Readers are told if she is drunk, that’s a ‘green light’.
A recent edition encouraged young male readers to do “cool things…like hitting women”, joking about “backhanding the missus”.
People can’t distinguish between the statements taken from lads mags like Zoo Weekly and statements from convicted rapists, according to a 2011 UK study.
Tyler is renowned for his songs advocating rape, murder, genital mutilation, stuffing women into car boots, trapping them in his basement, raping their corpses and burying their bodies. The abuse he incited against Collective Shout activist Talitha Stone in 2013 was enough to cause Twitter to implement a ‘report abuse’ button. The footage she filmed undercover of him whipping up the crowd into a frenzy of anger contributed to NZ authorities denying him entry in January 2014. Our more recent campaign saw Tyler use dog whistle tactics to mobilise his fans into sending a deluge of death, rape and mutilation threats against another of our activists, Coralie Alison, as punishment.
In the original letter to the Immigration Minister signed by Coralie and myself, we argued it was contradictory for the Government to have a National Plan of Action to address violence against women while rolling out the red carpet to a rap artist who glorifies and glamourizes it.
We doubt the absence of Zoo from Coles or of Tyler singing “rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome” at all-ages concerts is a threat to “great truths or breakthroughs”. It does, however, send a message that violence against women should be taken seriously.
Melinda Tankard Reist
Thanks so much for speaking with me. First of all, I want to say I, and IPHYB as a whole, are passionate supporters of women’s rights. In whatever individual definition that takes in today’s convoluted climate of modern feminism, we hold our own views very dear and close to heart. That being said, we’re also (as you can probably tell from the name of our website) staunch advocates of free speech. I wanted to gain your perspective on the issue, as it seems Collective Shout have come under fire from fans of Tyler, The Creator and free speech alike, for what some consider an act of censorship. Is it Collective Shout’s aim to engage in any kind of censorious behavior, and do you really believe his lyrical content is dangerous? To be frank, I struggle to make the connection.
CAITLIN: “We’ve obviously heard a lot of Tyler’s fans expressing a similar sentiment – essentially that we just don’t understand, and that we are trying to ban things we don’t understand, or that we are merely ‘offended’.
The suggestion that the issue here is about offence or personal taste is really missing the point. My feelings, my personal taste, like anyone else in this discussion, are largely irrelevant. Reducing criticism of Tyler’s brand of misogyny to offense is an attempt to deflect and undermine discussion of the real issue – the promotion and normalising of hostile and hateful attitudes towards women.
The whole offence argument also neglects to consider the fact that our campaign goes much further than Tyler’s sexually violent lyrics. While we strongly object to Tyler’s lyrics detailing rape, strangling, mutilating and chopping up women, stuffing their bodies into car boots, trapping them in his basement and raping their corpses, we are also talking about Tyler’s real-life behavior. When lesbian recording artists openly called out his misogynistic lyrics, he responded with a threat of corrective rape, offering them some “hard dick”. At his 2013 Sydney concert he unleashed a barrage of abuse directed at my Collective Shout colleague Talitha Stone, calling her a bitch, a whore, and a c**t while the crowd cheered, unaware she was present in the audience. I shudder to think what might have happened to her had she been recognised.
Both Talitha and Coralie Alison have been targeted with vicious abuse, rape and death threats after Tyler tagged them on Twitter. What did he think would happen when he called out Coralie, identifying her as the reason he wouldn’t be showing up for his scheduled tour? At any time, he could have so much as tweeted to call off his fans, to say it wasn’t okay to threaten a woman with violence, yet he remained silent.
This is not about offence, or even song lyrics. This is incitement to violence against real women. Real Australian women who have been forced to obtain police assistance, who have had to fear for their lives and have had to deal with the psychological toll of sustained, vicious abuse.
Tyler fans claim that Tyler’s music and treatment of women have no bearing on their attitudes to women. Wading through the steady stream of abusive emails, Facebook posts and tweets calling us bitches and whores, encouraging us to commit suicide and threatening to rape and murder us along with our children has made it very clear to me that that normalised misogyny has and does impact on attitudes. Essentially, I think it’s easier to paint all criticism of Tyler’s misogyny as uptight women who want to ban things they don’t understand than to actually engage with the issues.
There has been some speculation that campaigns like ours set a dangerous precedent in terms of free speech and censorship. I hope that as well as free speech, we value the rights of women to dignity, justice, equality and safety, and that as a community we are equally committed to upholding these rights.
In our letter to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, we pointed out the hypocrisy in spending $15.6 billion on a National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women – a plan including prevention strategies and education – only to welcome rappers who undermine the government’s attempts to address violence against women.
We’ve been critical of various artists – and not just artists, but advertising, media and popular culture – yet some issues and campaigns certainly do seem to attract more media attention than others. As a non-profit organisation, we don’t have the resources to organize and carry out campaigns against every artist who promotes the sexual exploitation of women, nor has it ever been our goal to pursue every artist with questionable lyrics.
We’ve been critical and sparked a dialogue about various artists over the last few years and campaigned against a few, including Redfoo, Brian McFadden, Robin Thicke, Snoop Dogg/Lion and Eminem. Some also suggest we unfairly target hip hop, but a look at our website will prove the wide range of issues and campaigns we have run. Is hip-hop somehow off-limits for critical analysis? Should hip-hop culture not be held to the same standard as the rest of society?
The reason we called on Immigration to deny Tyler a visa back in 2013 was because we felt his lyrical content vilified women and arguably incited violence against them. We felt it was impossible for us to remain silent. We only became more convinced after seeing his treatment of women on Twitter, setting his fans on women who were openly critical of his work, and his onslaught of abuse to Talitha at his 2013 concert – the footage of which was instrumental in his 2014 ban from New Zealand.
This has been expressed to us repeatedly over the last few months, that we haven’t done our research, that it’s art, that Tyler is playing a role, that he’s evolved as an artist, etc. I’m well aware of all of these arguments as well as the nature of Tyler’s work. We have done our research. We’ve listened to his songs, watched music videos, interviews, performance footage, read numerous articles and even attended his concert. It’s not that we don’t understand the arguments – we just reject them. We have taken this knowledge and come to a different conclusion.
I think it’s entirely possible for musicians and artists to use art, humour and irony to pose meaningful questions and comment on the state of the world and society, and even to explore dark subject matter. But I reject the notion that that is what is going on here. Tyler’s near constant uncritical exploitation and abuse of women for entertainment purposes doesn’t even come close to that. What is the statement being made? Where is the condemnation of abusive treatment of women? Rather, the men who degrade and demean women are positioned as badasses who don’t give a f**k and women are reduced to bitches. None of this is challenging the status quo or posing meaningful questions. Tyler’s “art” is at the expense of women, even survivors of rape and physical violence.
If Tyler has truly evolved as an artist as he claims (a notion I’d reject based on his recent behavior), why is he yet to take responsibility for it? Even now, he continues to justify and excuse it, never owning it. He’s built a career of the degradation of women, made a name for himself and profited from this material.
Tyler claims he doesn’t even perform his earlier work anymore, but concert set lists from as recently as last year show that he has. He’s also made his earlier albums available to stream via his Golf Media App. A few weeks ago he performed Rella on Jimmy Kimmel – here’s a few of the lyrics: ‘Nigga my d*ck’s in her jaw … my bitches white and I need f*cking head … bitches on my d*ck … Your girlfriend had a really nice meeting with my d*ck, I killed that p*ssy and grabbed that knife … met up with bitches, gave ‘em c*m on their dimples.’
Is this supposed to be progress? Is this an indication he’s concerned with equality now? It’s ironic that those men arguing for freedom of speech here have failed to notice that the women they are criticising don’t share this same freedom. These men are not impacted by misogynistic ‘art’ – they aren’t the ones being targeted. They aren’t likely to be on the receiving end of rape and death threats, won’t need to engage the police, nor be genuinely in fear for their safety as a result of sharing their views.
For these men to dictate how women, including survivors of rape and sexual violence, should feel about, respond to and challenge misogynistic attitudes demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the issues and perhaps more disturbing, a lack of empathy.”
AFP reveals sex trafficking based in Sydney brothels
How can the sex industry continue to deny the reality of trafficking in this country? Of course it is in their interests to play it down, given their brothels are hungry for as many women as possible to meet demand. The AFP has provided evidence of trafficking in NSW brothels to a parliamentary inquiry. Collective Shout has made a submission to the Inquiry into the Regulation of Brothels, authored by Dr Caroline Norma, extracts below (complete submissions with references here.)
One in four investigations into sexual exploitation is centred around brothels based in Sydney, the Australian Federal Police has revealed.
The AFP’s manager of victim-based crime, Commander Glen McEwen, told a parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of brothels on Friday that there were 24 separate investigations involving alleged sexual servitude in the previous financial year, six of which were focused in NSW – and some still ongoing. But he believes that number represents a “fraction” of the abuse that is passing under the radar, describing the human trafficking problem as “wide and vast.”
Commander McEwen supplied the select committee with a “snapshot” involving “opportunistic” criminal syndicates and vulnerable women, from Asia, “seeking to improve their own life, and those of their family, by moving to Australia for legitimate work.”
He spoke of a Thai woman duped into believing she was about to embark on an apprenticeship in hairdressing. “Unfortunately that’s where the exploitation commences,” he said of both her and others snared in the same trap. “Their passports are taken. They are told they are here to undertake sexual services and they will not be paid because their travel was funded by facilitators and must be repaid.” Read full article
Challenging the culture of denial on sex trafficking in Australia
Recommendation: The NSW government should commission research into the extent of organised crime, trafficking victim, and foreign national involvement in NSW’s sex industry.
The Asianisation of the NSW sex industry continues, and trafficked Asian women in the NSW sex industry continue to remain unrecognised as victims. The 2012 The sex industry in New South Wales: A report to the Ministry of Health document identified more than 50 per cent of survey respondents in approved brothels in metropolitan Sydney as of ‘Asian’ or ‘other non-English speaking background’, and nearly 45 per cent of respondents as speaking only ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ English. Despite this finding, the authors maintain they found ‘no evidence of recent trafficking of female sex workers in the…brothel survey’. But it is unlikely that women who cannot speak English, and who are from impoverished countries like Thailand, have had the resources and networks to ‘migrate’ to Australia independently (organising visas, flight tickets, accommodation in Australia), and organise a ‘labour contract’ with a brothel owner. While lack of English and foreign nationality do not, in themselves, constitute evidence of trafficking, they do point to the existence of a significant channel of women coming from, particularly, Asia into the Australian sex industry. Given the poverty of women living in the Asia-Pacific region, it would be prudent to assume that some form of trafficking crime is taking place in Australia. The UK government exercises this kind of caution in relation to the possibility. The presence of foreign women in that country’s sex industry who do not speak the local language is recognised as a red flag of trafficking; a new law against prostituting a ‘coerced, deceived or threatened person’ came into effect in the UK in 2010 after an NGO found more than eighty per cent of prostituted women in London were foreign nationals.
Asian-styled ‘massage’ parlours comprise a large part of the NSW sex industry, and are a sector that is wholly unregulated and unmonitored. There is no question that these venues are mediating the prostitution of women, and particularly women of Asian backgrounds. Massage parlours almost totally ignore local council requirements for business registration. They are often run by syndicates who transport women between different venues and locations. This takes place particularly for Asian-background women in the sex industry. It was reported in October 2011 that an “inner-city Sydney brothel . . . specializes in Korean prostitutes and is closely linked to the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle club and senior Asian organised crime figures”. In March 2008, three people were arrested in Sydney for sexually enslaving 10 Korean women, and in December 2008, a Korean woman thought to have been involved in Sydney’s sex industry was found dead in an apartment…
Recommendation: The over-representation of Asian-background women with poor English proficiency in the NSW sex industry should be recognised as a red flag of trafficking crime, and action taken accordingly.
The deregulation of most of the Australian sex industry means that awareness about trafficking, and initiatives to detect it, are almost non-existent in the country. The Australian Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee not only restricts its focus to trafficking taking place ‘outside the sex industry’ (with program funding directed accordingly), but openly declares an ongoing intent to exclude the sex industry from view: ‘During the next year there will be a continued focus on issues related to trafficking of people for exploitation outside the commercial sex industry’. Indeed, the Australian government closes its eyes to trafficking into the sex industry. Police in the country’s capital admitted to a 2012 parliamentary inquiry that no checks on either licensed or unlicensed brothels had been performed for a period of five years in the territory. A view of prostitution as work circulates so strongly in Australian society that trafficking victims are barely conceived of in public policy, let alone identified. There have been less than fifteen convictions for trafficking-related offences in the country. Foreign women in prostitution are simply perceived of as sex work migrants. This is shown in a 2012 The sex industry in New South Wales: A report to the Ministry of Health document in which the authors identify more than 50 per cent of survey respondents in approved brothels in metropolitan Sydney as of Asian or other non-English speaking country background, and nearly 45 per cent of these respondents as speaking only ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ English. Nonetheless, they find ‘no evidence of recent trafficking of female sex workers in the…brothel survey’. Recent developments in Australia toward the introduction of a ‘sex work visa’ category further reflect this idea of prostitution as an industry into which women simply migrate for labour.
A second indicator of trafficking in Australia is the emergence of ‘Asian women only’ brothels, which have become popular in recent years, and particularly in NSW. The Queensland Prostitution Licensing Authority in 2011 noted with concern in its annual report that this type of brothel had become more common. Asian-women only brothels was also mentioned earlier in a 2009 report commissioned by the Victorian state government in relation to venues that offer women for prostitution on a ‘rotation’ basis. This is a well-known practice of traffickers. A brothel manager interviewed by researchers in Australia in 2009 described the practice of ‘rotation’ in this way:
Most of them [i.e. Asian women in prostitution], they’re just here on working visas and then they buzz back overseas in three months because they [brothel owners] turn them over. Their policy is to turn the girls over all the time. So the way they do it is they work between three or four brothels and they have them working one week there, one week there, one week there and they say, advertise, new girls, new girls. They haven’t got new, they’re just back after three or four weeks at another place they just rotate them around.
This practice of ‘turning girls over’ and ‘rotating them around’ generally requires the trafficking of women. In order for pimps to be able to offer customers a ‘variety’ of women (and thereby make more profit), they need to secure networks and channels for the procurement of women. The existence of ‘Asian-only’ brothels allows pimps to sell trafficked women on a rotation basis with less possibility of being reported to authorities by local women in the industry.
The emergence of ‘Asian women only’ brothels in Australia shows how well local pimps have developed networks and channels in overseas countries. While there are, of course, many women of Asian-backgrounds living in Australia, the overall lack of English language skill among women in prostitution in Australia suggests that pimps aren’t recruiting local Asian women. On the contrary, they are advertising women precisely on the basis of their foreign nationality, as this quote from a prostitution buyer on a review website indicates:
Lately there has ben [sic] a number of girls advertising/claiming to be Japanese, Korean etc with similar websites and photos and different names. Are they the same girl or are there a whole lot of them that have decended [sic] into Melbourne.
The sex industries of, particularly, Melbourne and Sydney have become ‘Asianised’ over the last decade, as this quote from a prostitution buyer posted to an online reviewer website indicates:
Club 8 ran by new management with an overhaul of Australian WLs [i.e., prostituted women] to give us mostly Chinese and Korean WLs now. The facilities at Club 8 look like the Hotel brothels you get in China with all the space, huge lounge/waiting room, counter and hotel-styled rooms…
The ‘Asianisation’ of the Australian sex industry points to an increasing involvement of pimps and sex industry investors from countries like Korea and China. While this, too, doesn’t necessarily constitute evidence of trafficking, it does show the likelihood that brothel owners in Australia have contacts among sex industry business people overseas, and possibly use these networks to procure women, and ‘rotate’ them around licensed and unlicensed prostitution businesses in Australia.
In spite of these many outward signs that trafficking is a feature of the Australian sex industry, government officials and researchers continue to repeat the claim that trafficking is rare in the country. For example, the 2011 report of the Australian Commonwealth Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee claims that ‘[o]pportunities to traffic people into Australia are limited because of our strong migration controls and geographic isolation. This statement reflects some naivety about the extent to which the sex industry is moving women around in Australia (i.e., trafficking them) to meet demand for prostitution. It was reported in July 2012, for example, that Asian women are being trafficked into mining towns like Mt Isa, and are ‘working on a fly-in, flyout basis, two weeks here, two weeks in the next town and so on; they are being advertised as available in the local newspapers, and they are coerced or threatened into doing it’. The US Department of State in its 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report describes the trafficking of women into prostitution in Australia in similarly clear terms:
[S]ome brothels are run by Asian organized crime groups that arrange for Asian women to travel, sometimes on student visas, to work in brothels. The women and girls are sometimes held in captivity, subjected to physical and sexual violence and intimidation, manipulated through illegal drugs, and obliged to pay off unexpected or inflated debts to their traffickers.
The culture of denial that surrounds sex trafficking in Australia contributes to an environment in which prosecutors bring very few trafficking-related cases to court (less than 40 in the country’s history), and achieve very few convictions (less than ten). When a conviction is achieved, moreover, prison sentences are often allocated to the women controlling the victims (who are often former victims themselves), rather than the (mostly male) pimps who organised their traffic. In one case tried successfully this year, a former prostituted woman (from Thailand) was convicted of a slavery offence, while the man she was connected to, who raped the victim soon after arriving in Australia, was not tried on any trafficking-related charge. While the woman was certainly involved in the victim’s trafficking, and should indeed be penalised, the fact she herself had been in prostitution before the victim was trafficked into Australia suggests she might not have been the original instigator of the crime. The Australian courts are ignorant of the sophisticated strategies of traffickers, which include using former trafficking victims as recruiters.
The Australian anti-trafficking legislation contains only weak provisions against the brokers and middlemen who are crucial to trafficking networks worldwide. The government continues to see sex trafficking as organised by a few rogue individuals, rather than well-connected organised crime networks. The Australian Federal Police were criticised in the media in 2011 for failing to coordinate with Taiwanese public prosecutors over a trafficking network operating in Taipei that sent a number of women to Australia. There appears to be a lack of comprehension among high levels of government, the judiciary, and law enforcement in Australia about the attractiveness of the country for pimps and traffickers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia is seen as an ‘attractive’ investment destination for pimps and traffickers because most of the country’s sex industry operates free of government monitoring and intervention. Even when state governments introduce licensing systems for brothels, this doesn’t necessarily mean they perform checks on the sex industry. This kind of welcoming environment for sex industry businesses makes Australia an attractive target for sex industry investors, and therefore makes Asian women vulnerable to cross-border trafficking into Australia, given the country’s location in the region. The Australian government does not publicly acknowledged any link between the country’s large and legal sex industry and the trafficking of women. It prefers to think that the causes of trafficking reside in other countries, and not within Australia’s borders. This view is clearly expressed in a June 2011 statement by Australia’s permanent mission to the United Nations. According to the mission, there are two causes of trafficking, both of which originate overseas. The first is the ‘poverty, unemployment, corruption, gender inequality, lack of access to education and discriminatory cultural norms’ of countries other than Australia. The second is the inadequate ‘capacity of States to address trafficking in persons’—states overseas, that is, and not Australia. 28 The Australian government also likes to imagine, as much as possible, that trafficking is a crime that occurs outside of the sex industry. The most recent Australian federal Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee report shows how keen the government is to draw attention away from trafficking as a crime driven by demand for prostitution, and toward other industries and forms of labour smuggling:
During the past year, the Australian Government has maintained its focus on combating trafficking for labour exploitation…During the next year there will be a continued focus on issues related to trafficking of people for exploitation outside the commercial sex industry (italics added).
When the government is forced to recognise the existence of foreign women in Australia’s sex industry, it prefers to imagine these women have autonomously ‘migrated’ to Australia to pursue ‘sex work’, rather than having been trafficked. In other words, the government subscribes to an idea of ‘migration for sex work’. It promotes this revisionist idea of trafficking through measures like funding a project by an organisation called the Scarlet Alliance in 2009 to ‘raise awareness’ among ‘migrant sex workers’ about the ‘legal and migration rights and responsibilities to people considering travelling to Australia for sex work’….
Recommendation: the sex industry should be recognized as posing an unacceptably large public health risk in NSW…Efforts should be made to reduce its scale and size as part of public health prevention efforts.
…research shows the heinousness of the situation facing Asian women in the NSW sex industry, and the unlikelihood these woman have entered the industry through strategies other than debt-bondage, manipulation and coercion, which all fit the Australian federal legislative definitions of trafficking….research shows the extend of mental health harms inflicted on women in the NSW sex industry, and the unlikelihood of women In the sex industry having the psychological capacity to exit the industry into mainstream work, due to the extent of abuse sustained in prostitution.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
“Intelligent, passionate, brilliant, fearless… I could not recommend her more highly”
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
“You continue to reset my shock meter…”
“As a teacher and parent I recommend all parents, in fact all people, to attend a talk by Melinda- it will open your eyes and awaken your subconscious.”
Heather Douglas – Parent – Pembroke School
“Melinda’s presentations to our parents, staff and full day workshops to students was inspirational, transforming the attitudes and thinking of all involved”
Paul Teys – Principal – Hunter Valley Grammar
“Melinda Tankard Reist’s presentation to Middle and Upper School students at Pymble Ladies’ College was absolutely brilliant!”
Justine Hodgson – English Faculty, Pymble Ladies’ College
“Melinda Tankard Reist has had a transformational affect on our school.”
Ms Stephanie McConnell, Principal – Turramurra High School
“Melinda Tankard Reist is at the forefront of helping…educate the public on the link between pornography and violence…” – Di Macleod, Director, Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence
“As you read, be prepared to feel both grief and rage.” Robert Jensen
“These accounts are among the most unsettling you will ever read.” Steve Biddulph
“This powerful and humane book is a breakthrough…Big Porn Inc shows us we are poisoning our own spirits.” – Steve Biddulph
“A landmark publication” – Clive Hamilton
Purchase Big Porn Inc, Getting Real, Faking It, Men of Honour, Sexts Texts & Selfies, Raising Girls, Raising Boys, MTR DVD, Ruby Who? DVD & book, Girl Wise guide to friends, Girl Wise guide to being you, Girl Wise guide to life and Girl Wise guide to taking care of your body, and the new Wise Guys for the combined discounted price of $250.
‘The foremost authority in Australia cyber safety lays it on the line and challenges parents to find their digital spine.’ – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
Whether it is problems with friends, worrying about how you look or just feeling a bit down in the dumps – these books are written especially for you – to help you in your journey. Purchase all four together and save $18.50 on postage! Author: Sharon Witt
In this DVD, Melinda takes us on a visual tour of popular culture. “Melinda’s presentation leaves audiences reeling. She delivers her message with a clarity and commonsense without peer.” – Steve Biddulph, author, Raising Boys, Raising Girls
In this easy-to-read updated book, Steve Biddulph shares powerful stories and give practical advice about every aspect of boyhood.
“Overflowing with incisive understandings…a comprehensive and in-depth guide.” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychologist
Men of Honour -written by Glen Gerreyn- encourages and inspires young men to take up the challenge to be honourable. Whether at school, in sport, at work or in relationships, we must develp our character to achieve success and experience the thrills life has on offer.
Purchase the Ruby Who? DVD and book together for only $35 saving 10% off the individual price.
“Getting Real contains a treasure trove of information and should be mandatory reading for all workers with young people in health, education and welfare” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Adolescent Psychologist
Do you read women’s lifestyle magazines? Have you thought about how magazines might affect you when you read them? Faking It reflects the body of academic research on magazines, mass media, and the sexual objectification of women.
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Defiant Birth challenges widespread medical, and often social aversion to less than perfect pregnancies or genetically different babies. It also features women with disabilities who were discouraged from becoming pregnant at all.