Whilst attending the Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation Global Summit in Washington DC, some news came through that abolitionists around the world have been waiting for…

Backpage.com had been shut down!

Overnight, this exploitative website went from selling human beings, to a simple message from the FBI saying – backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized.

In Australia, as was the case around the world, backpage.com was a widely used website where pimps sold other human beings. There was the typical page where you could indicate if you were over 18 or not, however anyone could easily, and directly, access pornographic pages of mostly young women for sale.

The elation and relief at the summit was palpable with such a huge win after years of lobbying. It was a privilege to share this win with 600 others who have worked in this space. And yet at the same time the sobering truth is that, globally, hundreds of websites remain active that allow ads to be posted that sell children and (mostly) vulnerable, marginalised adults for sex.

One of the primary objectives of ACL's Centre for Human Dignity is to work towards preventing the harm that is inherent to those caught in prostitution. For the vast majority it is lack of choices that drives mostly young women into prostitution.

Given so much sexual violence happens in pornography, prostitution and all forms of trafficking, it will be interesting to see if the recent explosion of the #MeToo movement helps in giving a voice to those often left without one.

United, and supported by research, we can embrace the truth that selling of human beings is an exploitative, violent, and unacceptable practice that should be abolished.

Workable policies are being implemented around the world and Australia is no different.

This is why the Centre for Human Dignity advocates for the Nordic approach to prostitution. Criminalising the sex buyer (consumer) who is the driving force of this exploitative practice and providing excellent exit services for those who have been prostituted is achieving significant results many western countries already.

Rather than normalising the selling of sex, we must normalise human dignity and respect for all.