04 January 2011

Victorian strip clubs fuelling violence and crime: report

A report co-authored by an RMIT University researcher has detailed the damaging impact of strip clubs in Victoria, calling for the venues to be brought under the same strict regulations as brothels.

Not Just Harmless Fun: The strip club industry in Victoria was launched recently in Melbourne by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA).

Report co-author Caroline Norma, a lecturer in RMIT’s School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, said the regulations governing strip clubs were inconsistent with the sexual services they offered.

“Strip clubs are widely considered harmless entertainment but research shows that women who strip suffer the same rates of post-traumatic stress as soldiers who return from war,” Ms Norma said.

“There is no doubt that lap dancing is a form of prostitution but unlike brothels, strip clubs are allowed to serve alcohol to their customers.

“Banning alcohol and regulating strip clubs just like other venues offering sexual services is essential to improving the safety of both the women who work there and the wider public.”

The report detailed the harms caused by strip clubs including:

  • significant violence against the women who strip;
  • links to organised crime;
  • threats to the safety of nearby communities;
  • the targeting of the corporate sector and the subsequent creation of a new “glass ceiling” for businesswomen; and
  • the promotion of a model of sexuality that damages both women and young girls.

Report co-author and founder of the Australian branch of CATW International, Professor Sheila Jeffreys, said Iceland banned strip clubs earlier this year in recognition of the harm they posed to women and the wider community, and the research report suggested Victoria needed to similarly re-think attitudes to the industry.

“These clubs threaten women’s equality by reducing women to naked genitals for men’s viewing delight,” Professor Jeffreys said.

“By promoting the objectification of women, strip clubs are fostering a prostitution culture which is normalised through pole dancing classes and buck’s nights.”

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