Melbourne Law School - Theses

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    A feminist analysis of prostitution regulation in Victoria
    Bartal, Bronwyn ( 1991)
    The thesis provides a feminist critique of prostitution regulation in Victoria. It commences with an overview of the various theoretical approaches which may be used when addressing the problem of prostitution and identifies the system adopted in Victoria as being predominantly regulatory. The approach taken in Victoria may be identified as being based upon the morally neutral public/private distinction. However it is alleged that this distinction has several shortcomings and is an inappropriate theory from which to address the problem of prostitution. It operates in a manner which protects the rights of males and discriminates against women and prostitutes. The regulatory approach, as implemented under the Prostitution Regulation Act 1986,is then examined in some depth and its various defects are exposed. Particularly evident is that there is implicit morality in the way in which the system operates and this operates to the disadvantage of the prostitute. Claims that the system has achieved some measure of equality are examined in Chapter 4. However what is revealed is that the laws which have been enacted in terms which are gender neutral have achieved formal, rather than real, equality. And, freedom for women in sexual matters have meant that women, including prostitutes are more accessible to men. It is concluded that the regulatory approach operates in a manner which allows for the perpetuation of assumptions about prostitutes and about women. These assumptions relate to the inevitability of prostitution , the male right to sex, the double standard,the role of women and prostitutes in society, and to the whole area of prostitution in general. These assumptions combine to protect male hegemony and ensure the continuance of male dominance. When examined from a feminist perspective it is demonstrated that these assumptions are open to challenge. Once questioned it is possible to construct an approach which will pave the way for the eradication of prostitution.