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87 responses to “Income management and the Tasmanian Children’s Commissioner”

  1. Liam

    Commissioner Wood in NSW called for income management in his Report.
    It’s not income management that strikes me as the most unusual or noteworthy recommendation here, though.
    Please note (bolding is mine):

    8.. THAT the Government review the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 and in doing so actively
    consider the option of prohibiting the purchase of sexual services other than for certified medical
    reasons
    and actively consider the contribution of any amendment to the safety and sexualisation of
    children.

    !

    1.2 THAT the CPIS Notification record and Tasmanian Risk Framework include as risk factors:
    -family structure, in particular assessments of spouses of single mothers and the presence of itinerant male associates of single mothers
    childhood trauma of primary carer

    !!

  2. Sam

    actively consider the option of prohibiting the purchase of sexual services other than for certified medical reasons

    Lends a whole new meaning to the expression, “for medicinal purposes only”.

    Back OT, I’ve got no problem with putting such people on income management, but how is that going to stop them putting their children on the game? If anything, they’ll have a greater need for some ready cash and will be more likely to do it.

  3. moz

    [email protected], while often skeptical of government dismissing reports, in this case the more I read of the report the happier I became with binning it. The commissioner does not seem to have heard of unintended consequences, or is extremely confident that their recommendations would have none. Of course, the first unintended consequence of that report is probably immenent, with the dismissal of its author…
    Would I be wrong to imagine that the purchase of sexual services from 12 year olds is already prohibited in Tasmania? Suggesting that prohibiting it again under a different law would have little extra effect?

  4. moz

    I do especially love on the of the earlier recommendations: 4: decisions about statutory intervention and placement be informed by structured measures of a family’s capacity to change, measured by verifiable facts
    So does the comissioner want to restrict decisions to those that can be justified by the “verifiable facts”, or massively increase our ability to verify claims by persons involved in these cases? The nuances of “verifiable” get worse the more I think about it, because so much of what happens in these cases is directly seen only by the perpetrator(s) and the child who is the victim. I’d rather stick with “balance of probabilities” than “verifiable facts”, especially if the onus is on the accused to provide the verification. You really want to force parents to videotape every interaction with their child to prove that they have a good relationship?

  5. wilful

    Precisely moz. Given that the relevant adults are already on trial, making something illegal, er, illegal, seems like a waste of time. And the parents being hungry for cash isn’t going to be solved with income management!

    As for childhood trauma, if the tassie kids commissioner thinks that this is a provable, actuarial risk, and the information is available, then it’s not controversial.

  6. derrida derider

    It’s hard to see how ensuring that parents spend half their welfare cheque on only a specified list of things (which is waht the income managment legislation authorises) would have any effect at all on cases such as this. The problem wasn’t that the parents spent their welfare cheque on drugs or drink – it’s that the welfare cheque wasn’t big enough in any case for them to support their habits.

    Income management is a classic case of a policy that SOUNDS good but has a record of expensive failure all around the world – which is exactly why previous Australian governments have looked at and rejected this old chestnut. If you believe in “evidence based policy” you wouldn’t go down this road.

  7. hannah's dad

    Rather than trying to extrapolate from one case not necessarily representative of the issues involved I would prefer to take a wider ranging look at the issues raised thus far.

    Google ‘prostitution and child sexual abuse” and you will come across many docos that show that the two are causally related.
    On the first page of hits I found this in an article about AIDS by Hengst and Hornle:

    “More than 80% of all prostitutes are victims of sexual abuse in their childhood and youth.”

    This is not ground breaking news.

    Next try googling “child sexual abuse and social class” and amongst the first page of hits you will get David Finkelhor saying this in the [my edit] abstract:

    “The main finding from epidemiological literature on child sexual abuse is that no identifiable demographic or family characteristics of a child may be used to exclude the possibility that a child has been sexually abused. …….

    Class and ethnicity appear not to be associated with risk.

    In any case, none of these factors bear a strong enough relationship to the occurrence of abuse that their presence could play a confirming or disconfirming role in the identification of actual cases.”

    Again the awareness that CSA crosses social class and ethnic and other boundaries is not new.

    So calling for income management is very much a knee jerk response that scapegoats one element in our society that with respect to CSA and [child] prostitution has no greater responsibility than other social groups.

  8. wilful

    Actually dd, I thought the point of income management was to sound tough and mean to poor people, to humiliate them and make them feel like shit, so they could reconstruct their lives…

  9. hannah's dad

    What I was trying to show Robert is that CSA/prostitution and all the associated ills are not by any stretch of the imagination confined to low socio economic classes and thus welfare income management is largely irrelevant as a solution to the endemic ills and is in fact worse than irrelevant because it focuses social attention on on narrow defined group to the detriment of examining what is actually causing the problem across the entire society.

    Its related to the way the hysteria about alleged but unproven CSA in remote indigenous communities was a major part of the justification for the initial and ongoing virtual demonization of the indigenous people whilst communities, eg rich/white/urban, with equal or even greater rates of CSA go scot free cos we are all looking in only one of many possible directions.

  10. Liam

    As for childhood trauma, if the tassie kids commissioner thinks that this is a provable, actuarial risk, and the information is available, then it’s not controversial

    The controversy comes in at the point where the risk framework’s used to make reporting, casework, removal or placement decisions. It’s not controversial to say that abuse has a cyclical nature and that there’s a correlation between past history of abuse and future abuse—but it’s not right to say that a history of abuse necessarily constitutes a significant risk factor in itself, as opposed to, say, serious mental illess or substance abuse.
    It’s true, for comparison, to say that low socioeconomic status and child neglect go hand-in-hand; and that at the moment, Aboriginal children are far more likely than non-Aboriginal children to suffer neglect. Those are facts. That a child’s parents are poor or Aboriginal, however, aren’t factors worth considering as part of a risk assessment, for I hope obvious reasons.

    and the information is available

    And this is the really nasty part. Make history of trauma part of a risk assessment and you’re giving a massive incentive for people not to self-report histories of abuse/neglect especially in the cases of uncles, aunties, grandparents, etc.

  11. Jacques de Molay

    wilful @ 9, I’d also think the point of welfare quarantining like work for the dole, the job diaries, the types of headkickers they employ in the job networks etc is all about making life on welfare (if you’re dependant on it, i.e. poor) as an unbearable as possible.

    Like Howard said and now Gillard says “the best thing we can do for people on welfare is to give them a job”.

    The problem with idiotic & compassionless statements like that it is not possible for everyone to get a job, especially old frail Aboriginal women:

    http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/09/20/business-as-usual-under-labor%e2%80%99s-new-income-management/

    Labor plans to bring this in nationwide late next year for everyone on unemployment & single parenting benefits and by the looks of things also those on disabiliy & old age pensions. How are you meant to prove you’re not vulnerable? As always with Centrelink you’re guilty until proven innocent and nothing is ever voluntary. Voluntary in the sense of if you want to keep getting some sort of money you have to sign up yeah.

    How the hell would quarantining the welfare of these crims in Tassie give them an incentive to not do what they’re doing? Logic says they would be more inclined to do it than previously.

    That’s the problem with these suits who come up with great ideas like income management/welfare quarantining is they don’t live in the real world. When Labor bring it in nationwide next year, watch petty crime like breakins etc sky rocket. For example junkies won’t be able to get their hits on the BasicsCard.

  12. paul walter

    Yes Wilful, just as they did with the Wall St tycoons after 2007.
    They said, “Right, you obviously have this gambling habit, except that you’ve induced a recession that is going to affect millons of people much poorer than you, so will put you on income mangagement, so you can learn to handle other people’s money later, without stuffing up life for so many other other people, because you can’t handle money properly. Instead of bailing you out, carte blanche, with trillons now and no strings attached, just now…”.
    Then I woke up from the sleep, rubbed my eyes and thought,
    “What a funny dream”.

  13. Liam

    I’m agnostic incidentally on the issue of income management. I’m prepared to believe that it’s effective if it’s a voluntary part of case management (“Centrelink, please manage my income or I/my spouse will drink/smoke/gamble it, and also give me help”) or if it’s part of a larger community organisation (“Centrelink, on behalf of our legtimately constituted authority please manage our town’s income because our men/women will drink/smoke/gamble it, and also send us help”).
    As a blanket policy though—totally stupid.

  14. sg

    hannah’s dad – that study you site is a survey of street prostitutes in San Francisco. So a) it’s not a random sample b) it’s not representative and c) it’s not generalizable to Australia.

    Prostitution in San francisco is different to here, and street prostitution especially so. The laws are different, the drugs of abuse are different, and the women themselves are different.

    In addition to which the sample was selected by the researchers non-randomly and doesn’t include any brothel-based workers. Brothel-based workers are the majority of Australian sex workers, and happen to have a completely different psychological profile than street-based workers, who are a very small number.

    One of the authors (Melissa Farley) is a notorious anti-sex work activist who penned the “10 lies about sadomasochism” screed, which includes this gem:

    I believe that lesbians who embrace sadomasochism either theoretically or in practice, are supporting the lifeblood of patriarchy

    Further to that, I don’t have time to check know but I’m pretty sure she is one of the “feminist lesbian” crew, who think it’s impossible to be feminist and have sex with men, and believes all feminists should avoid heterosexual activity. So she sees sex workers as traitors to their sex [though I could be confusing her with Julie Bindel or Sheila Jeffreys].

    I don’t think I’d trust a non-random sample of street workers selected by that particular researcher…

    If you want a more sympathetic and nuanced discussion of sex work in the US, and want to see how it compares to Australia, I suggest the early anthropological work with NY sex workers by Maher. It’ll help you to understand why you can’t compare the two countries.

  15. Sabbra Cadabra

    Hannah’s Dad:

    “Its related to the way the hysteria about alleged but unproven CSA in remote indigenous communities …”

    From the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

    CHILDREN WHO WERE THE SUBJECT OF A CHILD PROTECTION SUBSTANTIATION (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect) INDIGENOUS TO NON-INDIG RATIO

    New South Wales 6.4 to 1
    Victoria 11.3 to 1
    Queensland 2.3 to 1
    Western Australia 7.8 to 1
    South Australia 9.2 to 1

    Since the reporting rate is believed to be significantly lower in indigenous communities, the above are probably underestimations.

  16. paul walter

    Sabbra Cadabra (“bra-bra”?, I presume you are trying to justify the Intervention on the basis of government figures.
    I could say this is falling for the Howard Brough line, but
    I doubt whether that will bother you too much, so will just ask if all cases of abuse in all white families are reported and whether or not white families (say on Sydney’s North Shore )are subjected to the same scrutiny as aboriginal communities, particularly when these become the target of prospective government legislation that is actually about taking over aboriginal lands and the wealth therein.
    Of course, with elites, family violence may be as much psychological as crude physical, as happens in aboriginal communities. Besides, bosses do damage to others, not their own.
    But lets just concentrate on thealleged abuse in aboriginal communities, rather than considering what factors are involved in this social dysfunction. Otherwise we would discover that many of these people are basket cases because of the cumulative effects of two hundred years of mismanagement and oppression from whites, which indicate that a more geenrous approach from white society might be a better idea than turning what remains of aboriginals and their communities into Dancing Bears for the mortgage belt at election time.
    BTW, a marvellous thing income sequestering of aboriginals; why cyou try that on other undeservingpoor later, cant you?
    What’s that you say?
    Tt’s already happening!!
    And I’ll bet that concern for women and kids, or poor and culturally disadvantaged people is the LAST things on their minds, as they are introducing it.

  17. Sabbra Cadabra
  18. hannah's dad

    sg
    I took one example only from many to illustrate the causal relationship between CSA and prostitution.
    There are lots.
    Its orthodox knowledge in the field.

    I knew someone would prefer to take the narrow focus.

    Sabbra Cadabra
    That DV, child neglect and other nasties are prevalent in indigenous communities is well known.

    Years before Howard and co tried to make it a vote catcher Mick Dodson gave a speech to the Press Club about such.
    But he was largely ignored and he was particularly ignored when he responded to questions and pointed out that CSA was a major problem in rich white society.

    But CSA/prostitution is a subset of the figures above.
    There has been no reliable evidence that CSA rate is higher in indigenous communitieds than in say Toorak or any rich white urban society.

    The whitewashing and denialism of this social problem is endemic to our whole society.

    CSA rates in Oz are underreported and its very much a ‘hidden’ problem’.
    And that applies to rich white powerful high status males as much, more so even, than in indigenous society.

    Despite the much publicised Intervention with a capital ‘I’, the last I heard was that despite the demonization of indigenous males there has been bugger all cases of CSA reliably documented.

    It really pisses me off that we can send in the military and quarantine income when we accuse the indigenous people of CSA [ note that I’m not including neglect and DV etc] and recommend compulsory intimate body examination for children but if we suggested that authoritarian males in a rich suburb were to be targeted with the same suspicion the shit would hit the fan.

    Its easy to pick on the poor and socially weak, but be careful of the rich and powerful, they bite.

  19. hannah's dad

    Posts are crossing.

    Sabbra Cadabra

    If you look at your link, table 11.3, you will see it illustrates my point.

    The rates of substantiation for sexual abuse [as distinct from the other forms of abuse recorded] are consistently lower for indigenous children than ‘other’ children.

    As the report says:
    “However, other Australian children were more likely than Indigenous children to have substantiations where the main type of abuse was sexual. For example, in New South Wales, 17% of other Australian children had substantiations where the main type of abuse was sexual abuse, compared with 9% of Indigenous children”

    The problem we faced with the Intervention, and I suspect we have something very similar going on with respect to this Tasmanian issue, is that sweeping generalizations are made that are not validated by studies and that the overriding factor is that its much easier to hit the poor than the rich and thus claim ‘problem solved’ when it transparently hasn’t even been recognized.

  20. FDB

    Sabbra Cadabra – those were some pretty self-serving omissions in what you copied from the table in your link.

    Your suggestion that CSA is “believed to be” more often reported by non-indigenous victims is also quite surprising to me. Do you have any basis for the statement? Who exactly believes this and why?

    Also, the next table from your link down breaks the data by type of abuse, and surprise surprise doesn’t support your mendacious tomfoolery.

    Percentage of child protection orders which involve allegations of sexual abuse, by state and indigenous status:

    Indig Other
    NSW 9.2 16.7
    Vic 5.6 9.4
    Qld 4.2 6.6
    WA 16.4 23.6
    SA 5.8 9.7
    Tas 2.9 12.5
    ACT – 3.3
    NT 4.2 9.3
    AUST: 6 11.4

    So in all individual states, and nationally, on these data, sexual abuse is a much more common form of abuse for non-indigenous children to suffer than for indigenous children. About twice as much.

  21. FDB

    “Posts are crossing.”

    No kidding!

  22. Sabbra Cadabra

    For fdb and hannah’s dad:

    “In addition to these known problems with child protection data, there are several issues that contribute to the under-reporting of child abuse and neglect specifically in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These include:

    -fear, mistrust and loss of confidence in the police, justice system, government agencies and the media (Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006; Anderson & Wild, 2007; Gordon, Hallahan, & Henry, 2002; Lievore, 2003);
    -fear that the child may be removed from the community (Anderson & Wild, 2007);
    -community silence and denial (Gordon et al., 2002);
    -social and cultural pressure from other members of the family or community not to report abuse or violence, and the belief that reporting is a betrayal of the culture and community (Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006);
    -a belief in the need to protect the perpetrator because of the high number of Indigenous deaths in custody (Stanley, Tomison, & Pocock, 2003);
    -fear of repercussions or retaliation from the perpetrator or their family (Stanley et al., 2003);
    -personal and cultural factors of shame, guilt and fear (Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006; Anderson & Wild, 2007);
    -lack of understanding about what child abuse and neglect is generally, and lack of understanding about what constitutes child sexual abuse specifically (Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006; Anderson & Wild, 2007);
    – language and communication barriers, lack of knowledge about legal rights and the services available, and lack of services for Aboriginal victims (Anderson & Wild, 2007); and
    – geographical isolation (i.e., nobody to report to, no means of reporting and minimal contact with child welfare professionals) (Gordon et al., 2002; Stanley et al., 2003).

    http://www.aifs.gov.au/nch/pubs/sheets/rs10/rs10.html

    All of the above is common knowledge and I’m amused by your apparent denialism. If you have social workers in the family or as acquaintances, ask them about it.

    In Victoria, at least, it has been reported that abuse must be at a significantly higher level before authorities will intervene, as to do otherwise would overwhelm CP services. This was reported in “The Age” a couple of years back and various social workers have confirmed it to me since, although obviously that is just anecdotes and I don’t expect anybody to give my anecdotes any weight.

    I’d be interested in hearing from other social workers.

  23. Sabbra Cadabra

    Also from above @25 link:

    “It is estimated that less than 30% of all sexual assaults on children are reported and that the reporting rate is even lower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children (Stanley et al., 2003). Inquiries into child sexual abuse in Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory have concluded that the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children was common, widespread and grossly under-reported (Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006; Anderson & Wild, 2007; Gordon et al., 2002). Robertson (2000) estimated that up to 88% of all rapes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities go unreported.

    In contrast to the low rates of sexual abuse substantiated by child protection services, police data on reported victims of sexual assault show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are at greater risk than other children of being sexually abused (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, 2007).

    Health data regarding sexually transmitted infections, which have been associated with child sexual abuse, showed that over twice the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were diagnosed with an STI compared with non-Indigenous children (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, 2007).

    Recorded victim statistics suggest that girls are more likely to be a victim of sexual abuse than boys (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, 2007). However, inquiries in the Northern Territory and New South Wales present evidence to suggest that there is widespread sexual abuse of boys in some communities (Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006; Anderson & Wild, 2007).

    Despite the low rates of child sexual abuse substantiated by child protection services, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and girls are at greater risk of being sexually abused than other children. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are significant variations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Patterns of sexual assault will vary in relation to community location and factors such as substance use and family and community dynamics (Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006).”

    http://www.aifs.gov.au/nch/pubs/sheets/rs10/rs10.html

    While denialism may be politically correct and mandatory mandatory for lefties, the consequences of denialism play out in such things as the extraordinarily high indigenous suicide rate.

    Since denialism kills kids, how about we put politics aside for a moment?

  24. FDB

    Again SC – those things all relate to reporting of abuse generally, not CSA specifically.

    In addition, all of them also apply to the non-indigenous community (certainly to many sub-groups within it) – fear, geographical isolation, shame, lack of understanding, language barriers, concern for the perpetrator, pressure from family/community not to report. To which racial group do most of these things not apply?

    Remember, we’re talking (off-topic a little, sorry Rob) about CSA (an epidemic of it, no less) being used as the main public justification for the Intervention.

  25. hannah's dad

    Sabbra Cadabra
    “All of the above is common knowledge …”

    I fully agree.

    It applies to CSA as an issue throughout the whole of Australia in all our communities.
    Not just to indigenous communities.

    “I don’t expect anybody to give my anecdotes any weight.”

    Oh I give then some weight [no sarcasm intended].
    I have 100s literally [actually if you count my circle of acquaintances,social workers and the like, 1000s] of anecdotes where CSA has been suspected, even known, and no action was taken.
    In one case about 100 young people victimized by one abuser over years.
    Details known, witnessed, documented frequently at several levels, the CSA admitted, in writing, at high official level.
    No action taken.

    Denialism in this area is standard.

    Not just with the indigenous community.

    And I’ll state categorically that its easier for social workers and government depts to investigate cases involving the weak and poor rather than the rich and powerful.

  26. paul walter

    Yes, HD, the real “denialism” comes with the refusal to understand what it is that politicians and others with axes to grind, as to what the Intervention and following have been really about.
    Besides, Aboriginal blokes are such a soft target;noisy, upset, from rough backgrounds themselves, no doubt easy targets for right wingers or/and middle class women alike.
    But if you “prove” thru dodgy figures that all black blokes are animals (as is the insinuation, since Howard’s time), then you’ve proven probably that ALL man are bastards and all welfare recipients probably unworthy of welfare, to boot!
    Go back to the IPA, or Murdochs, or wherever you come from Abracadbra, and stop trying to make sport of unfortunate people- very racist in this case.
    But if you stay, at least have the manners to read other peoples posts and decency to reply to the substance rather than pushing some ideological barrow of your own.

  27. Sabbra Cadabra

    fdb says:

    “Again SC – those things all relate to reporting of abuse generally, not CSA specifically.”

    Untrue. #25 and #26 deal specifically with ATSIC CSA.

    But heh, you are the expert, what would the Australian Institute of Family Studies know.

  28. paul walter

    Sabra cadabara, why do you think the best way of dealing with deliquent aboriginal males (but not white truckies or stockmen), usually the way they are because they, too, are traumatised by social disadvantage from childhood, is to enforce a sort of collective punishment for “not being white” on aboriginal communities thru withdrawal of wealth?
    Had money and time been spent in the past, aboriginal communities would not be dysfuctional in the way some claim.
    Instead we had clowns like Howard reduce welfare and spending, attack what remained of aboriginal protections and rights thru Mabo and Wik and once our victims had been reduced to total anarchy, send then in the troops to “restore order”, on the basis that it was these peoples faults themselves, that social breakdown in their communities had occurred.
    The way to help aboriginal and other people having problems is not to publically humiliate them and then beggar them for personal or political gain, or a tax cut for yourself, gain, but to provide proper counselling and treatment facilities for problems white civilisation is responsible for, not indigenes.
    Certainly NOT by publically belittling them, pillorying them and denying them the same rights as everyone else.
    Go thru white suburbs like this, and see what the response would be.

  29. sg

    No hannah’s dad, CSA causes poverty and educational failure and PTSD. Some people with those conditions go on to drug use and crime. Some of those people do sex work.

    If the study had a control group – an age-, sex-, race- and education-matched sample of manual labourers who don’t use drugs – you’d find high rates of CSA. If it had a control group consisting of brothel sex workers you’d find low rates of CSA.

    But Farley doesn’t deal with brothel sex workers – they don’t match her story, so she ignores them.

    The anti-sex work feminists from her neck of the woods use sex workers as political tools, and you can’t trust their biased research.

  30. Jack Strocchi

    Decline of the Wets is coming to a town near you.

    Income management will migrate from dysfunctional remote indigenous communities to dysfunctional proximate white communities. A

    nd thats a Good Thing. Because the tax-payer requires accountability. Institutional authority must override individual autonomy

    This principle is valid for both the over-class and the under-class.

    Hopefully the Masters of the Universe will have their income managed, perhaps by having their bonuses taxed at 100% rate.

    Post-modern liberalism is in its death throes.

  31. hannah's dad

    sg

    Australian sources

    http://www.secasa.com.au/index.php/family/11/46
    From secasa
    “Prostitution. There is a strong correlation between child sexual abuse and late teenage prostitution”

    http://www.cyf.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/334959/child-sexual-abuse-understanding.pdf
    Page 14
    “long term consequences may include…
    Prostitution”

    http://www.accesseconomics.com.au/reports/230.pdf
    page 138
    See`table 5.16

    Cites several studies.
    Somewhat ambiguous because it puts homelessness as a transition factor but that again has a definite relationship to DV and that in turn is related to CSA.

  32. Peter Whiteford

    The statement that the Govenment should “consider the option of prohibiting the prurchase of sexual services other than for certified medical reasons” reads to me as a proposal like the laws in Sweden, Norway and Iceland – prostitution itself is not criminalised but the purchase is.

  33. Darryl Rosin

    Today must be a ‘stupid Darryl day’ because I can’t parse the “purchase of sexual services other than for certified medical reasons” phrase. What does it mean? Are there people who get notes from their doctor to engage the service of prostitutes?

    d

  34. rumrebellious

    There is in European countries Darryl.

    In fact, it was a policy of the Australian Sex Party.

    To support the availability and accessibility of facilitated sexual services for people with a disability and seniors

    I can think of a couple of conditions/diseases which pretty much prevent people finding a partner to have sex with. And I do consider healthy sexual development important for one’s pyschological health.

  35. sg

    hannah’s dad, those links are silly.

    I wonder why on earth a late teenager abused by their parents or a family friend might be engaging in prostitution? Because they ran away from home maybe?

    That’s not causation.

  36. akn

    sg: the literature and research around abuse of children in general and sex abuse of children in particular and the way that both experiences cause organic brain function changes is well known and easily searchable via the web. Some sources such as this one are more credible than others but in general the case is made that:

    Childhood abuse or trauma has a pronounced effect in brain development. It can lead to subtle structural abnormalities in the frontal lobe, which is closely related to the limbic system — the seat of our emotions. These abnormalities may result in deep-seated personality deficits (for example, an inability to be empathetic, or pathological narcissism) that are not readily diagnosable as psychiatric disorders. This may explain why early exposure to traumatic stress or disruptive changes in environment may result in more fundamental behavioral changes that are more often diagnosed as personality disorders.

  37. fxh

    akn – the literature and research around abuse of children in general and sex abuse of children in particular and the way that both experiences cause organic brain function changes is well known

    Its not well known in psychiatric, scientific or medical circles. I’d like to see a few peer reviewed publications or some Cochrane.

  38. akn

    fxh: I cannot address such ignorance as you exhibit without becoming justifiably offensive. I suggest you google the following internationally recognized authority on the subject:

    Bessel van der Kolk, MD is Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University, and Director of the HRI Trauma Center. He is author of Psychological Trauma (1987), published by the American Psychiatric Press. His most recent book is Traumatic Stress: The Effect of Overwhelming Experiences on Mind, Body and Society (1996, Guilford).

    There are more recent works by Bessel van der Kolk but I can’t be bothered linking them for you.

  39. FDB

    Jack, your #33 conjures the most vivid image: of you intoning the words from deep inside the cowls of your robe, pulling in strands of crackling energy from the whirling constellations of the Strocchiverse, while a midget in a plastic fruit hat takes dictation.

    Anyone else?

  40. akn

    Oh, in fact as I’ve located an article that represents the most complete repudiation of your stupidity, fxh, here it is:

    The Body Keeps The Score:Memory & the Evolving Psychobiology of Post Traumatic Stress
    by Bessel van der Kolk (initially published in Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 1994, 1(5), 253-265).

  41. Helen

    AKN, why do you contribute in such a civil way for weeks on end and then become downright nasty? Are you not one person but some kind of committee? FXH has been a commenter here for many years and is far from stupid. I do not have the specialised knowledge to know whether he is wrong or not on this particular granular point but in general the abuse you’ve heaped on him is unworthy of you. Or of the rest of you.

  42. akn

    I’ll agree Helen that our comments are intemperate and the committee constitutiong akn will do better to exercise restraint in the event of future others making outrageous assertions of the order that ‘the earth is flat’, to wit, as fxh claimed, that there is no body of established research linking childhood abuse to organic brain changes in the victim.

    It occurs to us that occasionally someone posts comments that are so uninformed that they represent a danger to the uninformed or those who are seeking to educate themselves on a subject. This, above all else, explains our irritation especially when van der Kolk’s work is readily available. If fxh wishes to lodge informed objections to van der Kolk’s research then let her do so but to say that the link between abuse and brain changes is “… not well known in psychiatric, scientific or medical circles” is ridiculous.

  43. Helen

    It occurs to us that occasionally someone posts comments that are so uninformed that they represent a danger to the uninformed

    Yes I can relate to that, I can get a bit intemperate myself on the subject of anti vaxxers (which, in case this elides the discussion, FX most assuredly is not)

    If fxh wishes to lodge informed objections to van der Kolk’s research then let her do so

    ROFL… Melbourne bloggers ROFLing

  44. Francis Xavier Holden

    akn – your manners are about as developed as your scientific knowledge.

  45. sg

    akn, not only do those links you mention not include the words “sex work” or “prostitution” but you seem to be implying at 39 that the pathway to prostitution from child sexual abuse is via “an inability to be empathetic, or pathological narcissism.”

    Are you suggesting that sex workers are more likely to be sociopathic or narcissistic, or are you assuming that I am denying the effects of child sexual abuse, or are you just shooting at the moon?

    I’ll repeat: CSA causes PTSD, educational failure and poverty. These lead to crime and poverty. Crime and poverty lead some women to sex work or drug use; drug use leads women to street-based sex work.

    None of this has anything to do with the majority of Australia’s sex workers, who are brothel workers without a history of sexual abuse.

  46. akn

    sg: my point @39 in response to yours @38 is that abuse of children, all sorts of abuse experienced as trauma, causes organic brain changes that persist for a lifetime. It seems to me that your issue @38 is that causation cannot be shown and indeed it cannot be shown in any crude way. Individual agency intervenes in any case so that some subject to abusive childhoods survive and flourish despite their injuries.

    Moreover, issues of class and gender intersect in interesting ways. A person with a traumatic childhood and a sub-proletarian background is more than likely headed for the penitentiary in adulthood; a person with similar trauma from a family of the professional bourgeoisie may apparently prosper all the while enduring the most terrible anguish and suffering. One acts out with unpredictable violence while the latter turns the violence inward. Similar arguments apply along gendered lines.

    But it appears pointless to continue on this line if you are in denial of the proven thesis as illustrated in van der Kolk’s work.

    Dear Francis, we will go out of our way to avoid offending you but will never hesitate to bluntly point out ignorance even where the latter action contradicts the former intention. That is the benefit of a training in philosophy over a mere training in manners.

  47. sg

    I’m not in denial of the possibility of trauma from CSA, akn. I’m just a little suspicious of the idea that a woman has to be traumatized or emotionally damaged in some way in order to become a sex worker.

    There is no difference between this kind of language and the moral hygiene scares of the 1850s and 1880s. The only difference is the particular technical jargon – instead of being “loose women” they now “lack empathy.” There’s no room in this discourse for the possibility that a woman might choose sex work because she’s a whole, rational being who makes decisions that suit her needs and circumstances.

    The consequences for sex workers of an atmosphere in which they’re seen as hysterical victims and/or cold-hearted sluts are well documented. I don’t see why feminists feel they should add to this trouble.

  48. Liam

    There’s no room in this discourse for the possibility that a woman might choose sex work because she’s a whole, rational being

    Indeed, SG. A determinist view of it ignores that there’s a massive demand for paid sex in our society. That includes unfortunately a demand for paid sex with children.
    It’s not sufficient to explain prostitution deterministically only in reference to the workers, you have to also look at the clientele.

  49. akn

    Well sg I’m not so sure that there is no evidence suggesting a strong link between prior experience of childhood trauma and sex work. The following study apparently suggests that this experience does precede sex work in significant numbers:

    Roxburgh, A., Degenhardt, L, Copeland, J. (2006). Posttraumatic stress disorder among female street-based sex workers in
    the greater Sydney area, Australia. SMC Psychiatry, 6(24), 1-12.

    If I can access a copy I’ll post the data.

  50. akn

    Abstract from above:

    This paper examines rates of exposure to work-related violence and other trauma,and the prevalence of lifetime and current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among femalestreet-based sex workers. It also investigates associations between current PTSD symptoms and:demographic characteristics, psychiatric comorbidity, injecting and sex risk behaviours, and trauma history.

    Methods: Cross sectional data collected from 72 women via face to face structured interviews.

    The interview included structured diagnostic assessment of DSM-IV PTSD; drug dependence;
    depression; experience of childhood trauma; and an assessment of sex working history.

    Results: All but one of the women interviewed reported experiencing trauma, with the majority reporting multiple traumas that typically began in early childhood. Child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and work related violence were commonly reported. Just under half of the women met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD and approximately one-third reported current PTSD symptoms. Adult sexual assault was associated with current PTSD symptoms. Depression and drug dependence were also highly prevalent; cocaine dependence in particular was associated with elevated rates of injecting risk and sexual risk behaviours.

    Conclusion: These women reported complex trauma histories and despite ongoing opportunities for clinical intervention, they continued to experience problems, suggesting that current models of treatment may not be appropriate. More targeted interventions, and integrated mental health and drug treatment services are needed to address the problems these women are experiencing.

    Available here

  51. Liam

    But also (my bolding):

    Much
    of the research on successful PTSD intervention recommends
    removing clients from the potential of exposure to
    further trauma [24] and establishing a safe environment
    before commencing therapy [20]. Given that current
    PTSD among these women is related to adult sexual
    assault (which was reported as the most prevalent and
    most stressful trauma), establishing a safe environment
    and minimising their ongoing exposure to trauma would
    entail leaving the sex industry, where occupationally they
    are at risk of sexual assault on a daily basis. This may be
    difficult for these women as many of them reported low
    levels of education. Sex work was the main source of
    income for the vast majority of women, suggesting that
    they have limited employment alternatives. Indeed, some
    of the women cited limited alternatives and lack of other
    job skills as reasons for remaining in the sex industry.

  52. akn

    Yes, agreed Liam. My point though was to substantiate what was contested which is the strong association between CSA and later age sex work. The issue really is that people with long term PTSD (sometimes referred to as “complex PTSD” or [my view] – BPD) operate under very difficult cognitive/affective limitations so it is unsurprising that they end up doing sex work in unregulated conditions where they are continually retraumatised.

  53. sg

    Oh akn, I’m not sure which of the above papers you’re quoting an abstract from, but I can only again point out that 72 non-randomly selected street-based sex workers do not represent the majority of sex workers, especially if they were non-randomly selected from an American sample in a paper published in 1994.

    Not only are there race issues at work in America that don’t apply here; there is a cocaine problem over there that has completely different ramifications for sex workers to heroin, a completely different welfare system, and a completely different approach towards work.

    You’re again confusing crime, drug use and sex work as causatively linked to CSA. And you’re AGAIN suggesting, completely unapologetically, that people do sex work because they have “very difficult cognitive/affective limitations.”

    You do understand where this kind of rhetoric comes from, don’t you? Cloaking it in the language of psychiatry doesn’t change its real meaning, which is “sex workers are all sluts.”

  54. Liam

    My point though was to substantiate what was contested which is the strong association between CSA and later age sex work

    Which is fine, I don’t think anybody argues that there’s an association, but I’d be very hesitant to ascribe a causal relationship as you and Hannah’s Dad are seeming to. For a start, I’d want to know what proportion of victims of childhood sexual trauma do not engage in sex work? I’d want to know where child drug use fit into the pattern given the extreme rates of reporting of drug use esp. heroin and cocaine, too.
    Also, should engagement in sex work be primarily viewed as a symptom of previous trauma, or a coping strategy with the associated disadvantages of childhood neglect/abuse (ie. lack of employment opportunity and alternative)? You know, break out the basic criminology etc.
    I’d also point out that the interviews in the study you’ve linked to are of street sex workers, a minority subset forming a low-status, very vulnerable strata of sex workers in Sydney and Australia (as SG’s mentioned).

  55. sg

    Ah but Liam, that will never happen. No-one on the “save the women from exploitation!” side of the sex work “debate” cares to do well planned studies of sex workers which include brothel-working controls, because when they do they discover that the story told by the majority of sex workers is the age-old story of women’s agency: risks balanced, moral judgments made, decisions made in everyone’s best interests.

    This work has been done, of course – “Sex Work and Sex Workers in Sydney” by Roberta Perkins, but it won’t be cited by any of the “save the wimmenz!” brigade because it tells a very different story to that of vulnerable women who need to be saved from themselves.

  56. Liam

    the story told by the majority of sex workers is the age-old story of women’s agency: risks balanced, moral judgments made, decisions made in everyone’s best interests

    I don’t believe for a second that it’s “everyone’s” best interests, SG.

  57. sg

    well, I mean only everyone involved in the decision – that is her, her children, and anyone who happens to want to pay to sleep with her. I also don’t think wider Australian society has suffered in any way from the existence of sex work. I’m not sure whose best interests are not served by women being freely able to choose to participate in an activity that harms no one.

  58. Sabbra Cadabra

    I recall many years ago a young chap in the flat across from myself sprouting boobs. When I got to know him better he told me he’d ditched his university studies in accountancy for a career as a transsexual prostitute. As a prostitute he could easily earn 10 times more than he could ever earn as an accountant.

    Apparently it isn’t unusual for uni students to put themselves through education via prostitution. Good luck to them.

  59. akn

    No sg, you’ve misread the article. The 72 women interviewed were street workers here in Sydney.

    Both sg and Liam now demand more and more evidence on a blog where the tone is conversational. I’ve provided evidence of evidence which refutes claims made that there is no evidence. The quality of the evidence is neither here nor there.

    sg states @48:

    …the majority of Australia’s sex workers, who are brothel workers without a history of sexual abuse.

    And sg argues this at the same time as insisting that there is inadequate evidence on the industry. I’ll bow to your superior knowledge of the life histories of women working in brothels which I can only assume is derived from the sheer amount of time you’ve spent in those establishments talking to ’em.

    Liam: I agree with HD that CSA plays a fundamentally casual role in later age sex work. My hypothesis is that CSA creates the preconditions for later age sex work because it causes and then habituates the victim to the condition of disassociation. Drug use is another route to disassociation. Disassociation, I would argue, is an advantage when doing sex work because it allows functionality without engaging the self.

    But I cannot find time to provide evidence of this. It is merely an informed opinion the meaning of which is graspable with a little imagination and empathy.

  60. Liam

    AKN, I don’t disagree with anything you’ve speculated about, but I’ll just repeat the point I made at #51: prostitution is a labour transaction in a specific economy, not a symptom of an illness or a state of being.
    I don’t think you can look at it without reference to the johns, much less ascribe causes without remembering the demand.

  61. sg

    akn, I don’t usually like to do this sort of thing and I don’t like to reveal my identity on the internet but my understanding of sex work is based on a career spent researching the epidemiology of HIV in sex workers and injecting drug users. I’ve known quite a few sex workers professionally and personally and I’m currently teaching Global Crime and Public Health, a course about this topic.

    The paper you cite above (Roxburgh et al) is specifically a study of street-based sex workers, half of whom were homeless and 83% of whom were heroin injectors. It draws no link between CSA and adult sex work, being content merely to document high levels of all the different psychological symptoms. It also, you’ll note, discovers that there is no difference in age of onset of sex work between those with current PTSD (who were 4 times as likely to be sexually assaulted as children) and those without.

    This tale of disassociation and habituation is just a psychological veneer on the age-old assumptions about sex workers – that they’re victims, or that they’re emotionally different to other women (usually, sluts or women who don’t put a proper value on that most feminine of ideals, “intimacy”). The women in the Roxburgh study made a “choice” to do street-based sex work because they’re addicted to drugs, poorly educated, and left home too young (before the age of 16), so have few life skills or opportunities. CSA had significant material consequences for these women but one needs to be very, very careful about drawing the conclusion that it also drives emotional suitability for certain types of work.

  62. sg

    I would add, with regards to the old cannard that the sex industry depends on childhood sexual assault to prepare its “victims,” that the kind of women interviewed in that Roxburgh study are the kind of women who don’t get to work in brothels because they’re injecting drug users, and have PTSD.

    Brothel owners want women who are stable, capable of negotiating with a man over sex in private, punctual and well behaved. They don’t want chaotic women with significant fear of adult men, who are as likely to be late and semi-conscious as they are perky and on time. For this reason they try to filter out injecting drug users (and especially the chaotic ones, i.e. the ones with PTSD), who then end up working on the streets.

    Since the majority of sex workers in Australia are brothel workers, you have to ask yourself how the industry benefits from women being “prepared” for a life of paid-for consensual sex through childhood experience of rape.

    In fact what benefits brothel owners most is an economic environment where young, unskilled women cannot make a decent wage, and use sex work as supplement or substitute for the mainstream economy. If unskilled labour for women was better paid, brothel owners would find recruitment much more difficult, regardless of the supposed “grooming” of young women through CSA.

  63. akn

    sg: I agree that Roxburgh leaves unexplored any relationship between CSA and later age sex work. They note the high prevalence of CSA among sex workers which I suggest is not exactly insignificant.

    As to subscribing to an old canard about sex workers being “sluts” – where do I say that and kindly don’t impute meaning to my comments where in fact there is none unless you want to convey the impression that your reading of my words is significantly cross eyed (which you’ve done so far).

    As to the suggestion that the sex industry “depends on CSA to prepare its victims…” – straw person argument. I never said such a thing nor did I argue that women and men are prepared as children for work in the sex industry. Implying such tries to portray me as putting forward a crude conspiracy theory which is not what I’ve done.

    In fact, in so far as there is a relationship between CSA and sex work I contend that the disassociative experience is an essential precondition for doing the work and moreover that many sex workers somewhat mysteriously end up in that industry as a way of exploring and revisiting their initial trauma based as it is on disempowerment and sexualised exploitation.

    I detect the totalitarian logic of the Scarlet Alliance somehwere in your attitudes especially when it comes to simply denying that evidence of some relationship between CSA and later age sex work exists because it does here as well as in other citations above. Indeed, the argument that CSA precedes later age sex work is a commonplace although the evidence, as one would imagine because of the trauma of the victims and the lifestyles that street level sex workers have, is difficult to harvest.

    Finally, it occurs to me that while this discussion is a long way from the terrible experiences of that poor child in Tasmania it is not so far as others might imagine and nor is your defence (and that of others) of the legitimacy of the so called “sex industry” because in fact one of the recommendations of the commissioner into that child’s experiences was that:

    THAT the Government review the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 and in doing so actively consider the option of prohibiting the purchase of sexual services other than for certified medical reasons and actively consider the contribution of any amendment to the safety and sexualisation of children.

    Notwithstanding the oddity of the certification of sexual services for legitimate medical purposes this is in line with criminalising the purchase of sexual services as opposed to criminalising their sale.

    If that action had the effect of preventing the sort of Dickensian barbarity to which this child was exposed then I’d support it.

  64. paul walter

    Sorry Liam, but am nor sure prostitution isn’t the sign of some deeper social cultural dysfunction, as much as a “labor transaction”.
    If ever there was a parody of the potential of human relations, a full-on simulacra with all substance and sustenance previously sheered off, it must be prostitution.

  65. FDB

    “If ever there was a parody of the potential of human relations, a full-on simulacra with all substance and sustenance previously sheered off, it must be prostitution.”

    Even if this is so, it doesn’t address Liam’s point that prostitution isn’t just about the prostitutes. Is the John being any more ‘authentic’ in his human relations than the prostitute?

  66. FDB

    Sorry, I don’t think johns require (or deserve) capitalisation.

  67. Sabbra Cadabra

    I wonder what our sexually uptight buddy akn would make of Sambia culture in PNG:

    “… by the age of 11–12 (Sambia) boys have become aggressive fellators who actively pursue semen to masculinize their bodies. ”

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=an-ode-to-the-many-evolved-virtues-2010-09-22

  68. paul walter

    Obviously, so obviously, pedantic Fbd, I was referring to both parties. You appear not so bright as most other LP’ers, but I must consider, yet again, that it’s my writng skills that are again at fault.
    Akn, thanks for adding to the converstion with thought out comments like the one at 66, rather than just limiting yourself to cheap shots for lack of wherwithal, to do better.

  69. FDB

    “You appear not so bright as most other LP’ers”

    Charmed, I’m sure.

    Your writing isn’t exactly diamond sharp, and I meant nothing more by my comment than to suggest that you’d missed Liam’s main point – a good one, I think.

  70. Liam

    the sign of some deeper social cultural dysfunction, as much as a “labor transaction”

    No reason it can’t be both. I can think of lots of other labour transactions which fit that category.

  71. akn

    S-C @70, loathesomely predictable in any such debate, accuses me of being sexually uptight. Dreary as it will be for others but in the hope that the following revelations may enlighten or entertain let me say now that the Papuan practices are not news to me.

    Dear S-C, I am unshockable and as a member of the disgracefully ageing ‘new left’ the only sexual practices from which I have abstained are those involving minors, exploitation or the absence of consent. That leaves a wide range of acts and people involving all of the human faculties and orifices with which I have been acquainted joyously and repeatedly. For mine radical democracy necessitates an equalitarian approach to sex. In plain terms that means there is nothing I can request of a sexual partner by way of satisfying my own urges that I am not prepared to offer in return. That, hopefully, might fuel your imagination more than reading the sexual anthropology of PNG with only one hand on the keyboard.

  72. sg

    akn, I’d be really interested to hear how the disassociative experience as an essential precondition for sex work is anything other than saying sex workers are different to other women and don’t feel intimacy during sex i.e. they’re sluts. The fact that you have medicalized it doesn’t mean it’s not just an ages-old opinion of some women (they can’t feel emotions and need to be saved from themselves).

    I’m interested, too, to know why you think the scarlet alliance have an “authoritarian view.” Only in the strange minds of the anti-sex brigade do we discover that campaigning for people to be allowed to do freely what they want to do is “authoritarian.”

    And yes, I have absorbed the views of the Scarlet Alliance because yes, sex worker representative organisations have done more to protect the rights and safety of sex workers than any number of misguided prohibition laws.

    The latest suggestion – that we criminalize purchasing sex – will simply serve to force sex workers back into the secret world where they get raped, beaten and robbed because they have to work alone and unsafe. This is because sex work is a choice women make, and when you try to ban peoples’ free choices they just do them secretly.

  73. sg

    I will add, my addressing the “age old cannard” above had nothing to do with you (I know you weren’t saying it), but was simply a comment on a view often stated that is related to your view.

    I would also like to remind people opposed to sex work on the grounds that sex for money is “human relations without substance or sustenance” that your ideal of how human relations should be conducted between consenting adults in private is not necessarily normal, nor should it have any power over the conditions under which a young woman chooses to engage in human relations.

    But this brings us full circle back to my original point about one of the first people akn quoted, Melissa Farley, who said:

    I believe that lesbians who embrace sadomasochism either theoretically or in practice, are supporting the lifeblood of patriarchy

    She clearly has very strong views about what is and isn’t intimate and good in private relations, and this is an example of the company you keep when you start contemplating prohibiting things on the basis of their rightness or intimacy.

  74. paul walter

    Sg, that is a weird post.
    akn is proposing that greivous enough early experience could warp any child.
    From this, the inference that akn somehow argues that sex workers can be regarded as “sl-ts”; diametrically opposed to what he is suggesting. He is suggesting a an egregious and protracted process that psychically damages victims-not sluts- of that process
    What a vague and vicious ad hominem, sg!

  75. sg

    Paul, I’m not disputing the damaging effects of CSA on women; what I’m arguing against is the idea that for a woman to be a sex worker she has to (in general) have certain emotional deficiencies, namely a) she can’t enjoy sex properly because b) she isn’t capable of feeling emotion in sex and c) her view of sex must be in some way damaged.

    I see these as the implications of claims about CSA as “causing” sex work (rather than causing the economic conditions which make sex work appear a viable job choice). And these claims about what women who do sex work “feel” are very similar to old-fashioned ideas about sex workers as promiscuous women who can’t enjoy sex and/or aren’t able to feel emotion during sex.

    The key point here is the ideas about what sex workers should or shouldn’t be feeling when they work – akn is making normative claims about sex and sex workers that don’t stack up against the experiences of a lot of sex workers, are rooted in past ideas about what kind of woman does sex work, and make normative claims about what sex “should” be. Those normative claims are a staple of the anti-sex work feminists, and they’re not supportive of modern women’s lives.

  76. akn

    sg: I’m mindful that the thread has now strayed far from the subject and it really seems to me to be disrespectful to the victim of this horrible crime and state failure to pursue your invitation to unpack the disassociative experience of sex workers.

    A brief comment, however: my own past, routine and daily professional contact with sex workers for a period of three years in Sydney in the 1980’s (peak HIV scare period) provided ample evidence, as anecdotal as yours, that a very significant number, my guess is a majority, chose sex work because of the limitations of their class and education and would gladly have traded that occupation for another had it been available to them. Drug use was a routine means to make the work bearable; mental health diagnoses were common as were reports of worker suicide; disassociative experiences were also commonly reported and these were exemplified by the absence of clear memories about what they did at work. The absence of memory is a standard, good indicator of disassociation deriving from trauma.

    The case of the Tasmanian child is a real shocker and the Children’s Commissioner’s advocacy of legal changes to criminalize the purchase of sexual services at least addresses one of the key and very ugly features of this tragedy which is that the child had commercial sex with up to 100 men (while in state care). Of course at the age of 12 she was incapable of consent.

    Here the matter of the mind state of those men is at issue and all we can conclude at this point is that these were men who had no compunction about engaging in commercial sex with a minor or about whom they ought to have had reservations that she was indeed a minor. Clearly then we cannot rely on men who use commercial sexual services of women for guidance on matters like this and nor can we rely on those men to enforce appropriate boundaries around the age of their sexual laborer.

    The problem therefore extends to the sort of gung-ho, post modern, women’s empowerment thesis advocated by you and Scarlett Alliance about commercial sexual services. This is because the existence of these services, I suggest, is precisely what erodes human barriers to the exploitation of others. It is you who advocates a misguided, normative argument about women in the sex industry exercising freedom of choice. Clearly, the men who made use of this child had no compunction about commercial sex; in this case that lack of compunction legitimized for them what turned out to be non-consensual sex with a minor.

  77. Liam
  78. akn

    Liam: a very special decision that one.

  79. Liam

    Akn, with reference to the quality of the Report Mr Mason generated out of the case (ie. Rob’s original post) I don’t find it difficult to believe that the public service appointment process found a better applicant.
    I mean, quoting Dylan in the foreword? It’s a Government document, not an ARC linkage grant application.

  80. akn

    Liam: I don’t know the form with such matters and would have chosen Dante myself.

    Nevertheless, there remains the matter of the independence on the new commissioner who is now charged with reviewing the effectiveness of new systems which she was originally (partly)responsible for putting in place. It doesn’t seem right.

  81. paul walter

    Sg, I hope you are right about sex workers having the resilency to craft a personal “win” in the industry.
    Most people would love to have a job that pays well yet can be enjoyable. I’d go so far as to say you identified an opposite pole to Akn’s pessimistic take.
    But my sense is that sex work is contingent on the goodwill of clients; ultimately the worker is dependent on the goodwill of another. Its paid work, not all work is fun, since by definition work refers to the satisfaction of the hirer or employer. And its what happens till the species somehow evolves to the point where the real potential for sexual activities is better appreciated.
    You might say, if the job is no good you could give it away.
    Akn’s proposition that the work could be consequently alienating for many workers still seems overwhelmingly valid, and his suggestion that the real tragedy is the dyfunctionality in a victim, induced by vicious idiots like the ones in Tasmania, remains valid as an opposite pole to your more optimistict take. If some people are so badly damaged and so habituated to exploitation that they can’t walk away, this is a monstrous thing.

  82. sublime cowgirl
  83. sublime cowgirl
  84. Helen

    Those normative claims are a staple of the anti-sex work feminists, and they’re not supportive of modern women’s lives.

    sg, by your logic, we’d be failing to respect sweatshop workers by pointing out the systemic failings of the milieu in which they work. The idea that any critique of sex work is rooted in an airyfairy idealistic idea of what sex oughta be is doubtless true of some people, but to ascribe it to an entire movement is going a bit far, don’t you think.
    And the idea that “feminists” don’t respect sex workers implies that your average joe on the street has deep respect. Yeah, pull the other one! Hint: Why is “whore” used as an insult in everyday discourse? And were you aware that many feminists won’t do that? Can we have a thread without strawfeminist bashing?