Uproar over students in Canberra brothels

johnboy 27 June 2005 25

Apparently Canberra is in uproar over this story in the Canberra Times about the number of students working in Canberra brothels.

For my 2c; it’s easy money, and for some girls it isn’t a big deal.

As long as (and this is a big, big if) no-one is forcing anyone into anything what’s the problem?

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25 Responses to Uproar over students in Canberra brothels
jonnybegood jonnybegood 10:43 pm 08 Aug 10

I agree with many of the sentiments shared here. If people want to work as sex workers, then I wonder how many would reconsider if they were aware of and knew that the long term consequences of them using sex work to help pay their way through uni such as many studies suggesting that their perceptions of men being affected and their subsequent dysfunctional relationships with the opposite sex as a result of their experiences during their time as sex workers.
Many of those who do resort to sex work also do live rather lavish lifestyles for students (this I know having worked for the military for a few years to help support myself during my postgrad degree where Austudy wouldn’t quite cover it ) who can’t live without their funky new gadgets and fashionable items. Many young people, not just uni students cannot discipline themselves to hold off splurging until they start full time usually better paid employment and so don’t think of the long term and brutal consequences of the short term satisfaction of these whims.
That being said, I have a great deal of respect for sex workers who work with physically and/or mentally handicapped people or others who for whatever reason haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy or appreciate something that many of us take for granted. In a broad sense I believe them to be doing a wonderful service for those less fortunate (I would argue community service work) and should be lauded and respected and unfortunately our society still paints all sex workers with the same brush.

johnboy johnboy 11:44 pm 14 Aug 05

That’s certainly interesting, is it related to the drops in tourism?

MrX(orY) MrX(orY) 6:43 pm 14 Aug 05

Interesting comments, but the brothels in Canberra are all experiencing a downturn at the moment

seepi seepi 12:44 pm 13 Aug 05

a) More money for students. Austudy is a joke – why are students expected to live on less than the dole?
b)The source is a professor of some kind. And this is a tricky topic to research, because many of the participants don’t want to talk about it on record. But in general, the ones that do don’t have good things to say. Interesting letters from ex-prostitutes on the current Big Issue mag.

johnboy johnboy 7:46 pm 11 Aug 05

a) give me a better solution and lets go for it. But the best is the enemy of the good.

b) your source’s use of perjorative language is stirring, but certainly not to be taken as objective.

seepi seepi 7:40 pm 11 Aug 05

If it is no problem why is this topic hidden in Seedier Side of hte City?
Anyway – a relevant quote from yesterday’s paper:

Dr Layden warns that as the demand for prostitution increases, with internet porn being both anonymous and available 24 hours a day, supply is failing to meet demand. “There are not enough women in Australia who have been raped as a child, are homeless, or have a drug addiction, to be prostitutes, because in reality these are the women who end up in this situation.

“In this case, you have to deceive or kidnap women and children from other countries, take their passport, beat them up and put them into sex slavery.”

seepi seepi 10:26 pm 03 Jul 05

found it:
There’s a Bear in There (and He Wants Swedish)
Eastman, Merridy
A fascinating behind the scenes look at life in a brothel told with a lively sense of the absurd and an understanding of human frailty. Merridy Eastman is an Australian actress who has been on many Aussie soaps but is best known for her role as presenter of ‘Play School’. Due to a lack of acting work Merridy took a job as a night receptionist in a Sydney brothel.
I sold me copy back to KIngston book shop – it may be still there.

seepi seepi 10:22 pm 03 Jul 05

I don’t think total prohibition works (i wish it could though), but I don’t think it should be totally normalised either. I think choosing to work in a brothel is a life changing decision, and some women may not realise this when they take it on to get through a bad patch.
I also think many men do not acknowledge that the majority of women working in brothels have family problems, drug problems or are broke single mothers/students.
so I guess my answer is ‘decriminalised’. Eg somewhat regulated, but not able to operate unchecked, and not ‘just a job’ and advertising at job centres.
There is a good book about life in a brothel, written by the fgirl from Blue Heelers/Play school who was a brothel receptionist for a while. Not a very pretty picture.

johnboy johnboy 5:28 pm 03 Jul 05


Do you think things would be better if it was made illegal again?

Serious question, not being facetious.

My own knowledge is from a sample of one who I used to talk to in the pub and who had worked in the sex industry for 5 years before she gave it away and got an office job.

she’d had about as awfull a childhood as you can imagine.

but she was of the view that her time in the sex industry had actually empowered her and helped her have normal relationships.

I was, and am, skeptical.

But it’s all I’ve got to go on so far.

seepi seepi 5:14 pm 03 Jul 05

Johnboy from your comments it actually looks like you are saying that some girls suffer no harm from entering prostitution, cos they are damaged already??

johnboy johnboy 4:13 pm 03 Jul 05

there are some causal assumptions in what you’re saying Jane.

But I certainly agree the self-serving nature of the Eros foundation bears very carefull scrutiny.

Jane Hansard Jane Hansard 2:14 pm 02 Jul 05

The Eros Foundation had the sense to stay off the front pages and allow Canberrans to tolerate the industry provided it shut up and stayed where it belongs on the fringes of society. Now Fiona Patten is back in Canberra after a failed stint as an Internet pornographer, we have to (sight) argue with her again. In response to Fi’s front-page latest, I contacted three women who were sex workers as students, one nearly 20 years ago, and two around 10 years ago. All three cannot bring themselves to talk about it, and they have all ‘buried their past’. Not healthy. So, Fiona, let’s see some longitudonal research into the effects of a stint as a sex worker before you promote a career in the industry. There was a telling comment in the story: the johns like really, really young women. So much for a career path?
By the by – except it’s not a side issue – two of my friends ended up with drug problems after their sex worker student phase. If they could bring themselves to talk about it (and of course I haven’t pushed the conversations) I doubt they would have anything good to say about Ms Patten’s 15 years or so fronting for the industry while pretending to have women’s interests at heart.

blossy blossy 6:14 am 01 Jul 05

Maybe I’m a bit harsh, but I don’t find it “sad” that some girls try that line of “work” to get out of debt – I think its pathetic.

Yep, harder to get a job if you need to be somewhere else 9-5, but if that means you have to work nights and weekends, so be it – do that in a bar or a restaurant.

Yes, you’d have to work more hours for the same money, but at least you can live with yourself.

johnboy johnboy 11:02 pm 30 Jun 05

Most of those girls, in my experience, are already a bit damaged i’ll grant you.

seepi seepi 10:50 pm 30 Jun 05

I think ‘some girls it isn’t a big deal’ is a bit glib. A psychologist I lived with said it has to leave a permanent effect on a woman’s state of mind – and not to mention her attitude to sex and man in her non-work life.
It is sad because many young girls try it out to pay off a few debts, and then find it hard to give up the money.
Some uni courses require 9-5 attendance – it is hard to work on top of this.

bulldog bulldog 5:03 pm 29 Jun 05

Don’t cry for these girls. They are grown ups and if they didn’t want to work in a knock shop, they could get a job in a cafe, as an office temp etc etc etc.

I work to pay a mortgage, vehicle rego, maintenance, insurance, food, drinking habits (etc ad nauseum) and I do it on less than $800 – $1200 a week.

I doubt very much that your average 18 – 25 yo student has the same overheads as I, so therefore, they don’t HAVE to work as hookers to pay their bills. On that sort of manoey, they are paying for luxries that a lot of miss out on. That’s the price you pay I guess.

I’m not saying that it’s a good or bad thing, I’m just saying the Gov’t does not force people to whore themselves out to make a living. As much as Stanhope wished it were; This is not Cuba.

annie annie 11:38 am 29 Jun 05

Johnboy, I know lots of girls who got through uni without becoming prostitutes too. I myself took part time clerical jobs. But it’s still bloody hard going, especially if you’re not living with your parents – which everyone seems to assume is the thing to do. (But have you MET my mother?!)

Seriously though, all I’m saying is that the government has made being a student much harder than it needs to be, and there are some girls out there who think becoming a sex worker is the ideal solution.

But it’s not easy money at all. And if they take a job in a brothel, I wouldn’t imagine it’s a decision taken lightly.

johnboy johnboy 11:25 pm 28 Jun 05

But Annie, I know plenty of girls who manage to get through uni working in jobs outside of the sex industry.

annie annie 3:18 pm 28 Jun 05

Technically this is not NEW news. It’s a well-known fact that a percentage of students do work in brothels to support their studies.

And yes, technically they’re not being forced to do it, and some girls aren’t bothered by what they do to make money.

But for others, it’s the only way to support themselves, because the system of government assistance for students is an absolute shambles. It’s there for face value only.

The main impediment isn’t HECS, because you can pay that back through tax later. It’s the living expenses that are the killer for those students who don’t or can’t live at home.

Have any of you actually TRIED to live on Youth Allowance or Austudy? Or had to deal with Centrelink, who is convinced you’re not trying to get a qualification so you can get a job, but that you’re trying to drain the public purse of valuable moneys that could be spent on MP superannuation?

RandomGit RandomGit 12:26 pm 28 Jun 05


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