The Australian Christian Lobby sent out a campaign in relation to a proposed law to decriminalise prostitution. Part of the campaign against the law is that it will increase trafficking and organised crime. Is this the case?

Evidence is clear from NSW, and other countries, that when prostitution is decriminalised, there is an increase in prostitution, trafficking and organised crime.

This below was an email campaign and not available from their website so I've taken a screenshot.

Letter from the ACL

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    We require questions on this site to be about widely-believed ("notable") claims. Some users confuse that with claims coming from sources that they consider reliable. The source of this question's claim might not be considered reliable, but they are widely read. I have deleted comments that insist on reliable sources for this question. (Answers, of course, should use reliable sources.)
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 17, 2021 at 12:49
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    Claims regarding causal effects on crime are difficult to prove or disprove. Crime statistics are already pretty untrustworthy, because they only cover reported crime. And even if they were reliable: There are a lot of possible factors which affect prevalence of criminal activity, so that it is difficult to find a causal link to any particular policy.
    – Philipp
    Aug 17, 2021 at 13:15
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    @JoeW: It is an ad hominem attack. If you have evidence the answer is wrong, post it. If you are just sharing your political view of an organisation, sorry, but we don't care.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 17, 2021 at 13:17
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    @JoeW: The deleted comment did not ask a question about it. It dismissed the claim in the question with zero evidence because of the political beliefs of the people who made the claim. That is an ad hominem, pseudo-answer. It is not welcome here.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 17, 2021 at 13:33
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    @ARogueAnt. I cannot provide a link because the section I posted came from one of their email campaigns, its not on their (ACLs) website. If I provide the link from the email campaign it will be traceable to who received the email. Aug 18, 2021 at 7:02

1 Answer 1


The ad may be thinking about this 2012 study: Does legalized prostitution increase human trafficking?

The study examined data from over 100 countries and used Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland as case studies. They found that countries that legalise prostitution do have more human trafficking than those who do not. They also found that the effect (increased human trafficking) is stronger in richer countries and democracies.

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    I believe there's a distinction between decriminalising sex work (which is what the question is asking about) and legalising it (which is what the study talks about). It's not enough to invalidate the answer IMO, but it's still worth noting.
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 18, 2021 at 11:53
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    Observation: That study appears to be repeating a common problem with such data in assuming prostitutes working in another country are trafficked, not considering the possibility that it is voluntary. Aug 19, 2021 at 15:22
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    There is the common correlation versus causation issue here. The study shows that countries with legalized prostitution have higher human trafficking than countries without. This does not imply that changing the legality of prostitution will change the amount of human trafficking.
    – quarague
    Aug 22, 2021 at 17:04
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    Does this study actually contain the raw data / tables / statistics? I opened it directly in the browser and see only an "- Insert Figure 1 here -" placeholder, but neither any graphs nor tables with actual numbers. Without that data we cannot verify their work and have to trust the authors that they drew the correct conclusions from the data only they know.
    – Elmy
    Aug 23, 2021 at 7:16
  • @LorenPechtel does it? It looks like they got their trafficked numbers from another report that "was constructed based on the Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings (GPAT) Database, which includes reviews on publications by 113 institutions reporting incidences of human trafficking in 161 countries over the 1996-2003 period" It sounds like it's looking at explicitly reported cases of trafficking, and so cases of voluntary migration wouldn't be counted.
    – dsollen
    Aug 24, 2021 at 19:32

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