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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 12 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3811..


MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

In many cases the workers are placed under onerous sponsorship debts to their employers which they must repay in full before retaining any earnings. Intimidation, threats and use of force are apparently commonplace.

In many cases recruits are aware that they will be employed as sex workers, but often they are unaware of the conditions under which they will be employed. In other cases workers are deceived into believing that they will be engaged in other work, only to be forced into sex work when they arrive in the new country.

The model provisions attempt to address this growing problem by targeting the traffickers, not the workers. The Commonwealth enacted legislation based on the model provisions last year. The Commonwealth act applies where the conduct has an international element - for example, where a person recruits someone from outside Australia for sexual servitude inside Australia.

This bill will form part of a package of complementary state and territory laws that will operate where the conduct relating to sexual servitude or deceptive recruiting for sexual services takes place within Australia. South Australia has already passed legislation based on the model provisions. It is understood that the other states and the Northern Territory will be following suit.

The bill makes it an offence to cause someone to enter into, or remain in, sexual servitude. It will also be an offence to conduct a business that involves the sexual servitude of others. These provisions target people who, by the use of force or threat, assert a degree of dominance over a worker that effectively denies the worker the freedom to stop providing sexual services or to leave the place where the services are being provided. "Sexual services" is not restricted to prostitution and includes other sex work such as erotic dancing and pornography.

The question of whether a person was in sexual servitude will be a question of fact to be determined on a case - by - case basis according to a reasonable adult person test. Mr Speaker, the maximum penalty for sexual servitude offences is 15 years imprisonment, or 19 years if it is an aggravated offence, that is, if it is committed against a person under the age of 18. These penalties reflect the serious and abhorrent nature of the crime.

The bill also makes it an offence to deceive another person about the fact that they are being recruited for sex work - for example, where a potential recruit is told that she will be employed as a waitress when the intention is that she be employed as a prostitute. It is not necessary that the deception involve an element of sexual servitude. The deceptive recruiting offence has a maximum penalty of seven years, or nine years for an aggravated offence.

The bill also makes a number of minor amendments to the Crimes Act, such as removal of defunct provisions, alteration of section headings and the relocation of definitions to a dictionary at the end of the act. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope ) adjourned to the next sitting.


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