Crackdown call: Brothels find business hard going
THE world's oldest profession is getting a lot harder in Queensland thanks to a "proliferation" of illegal brothels.
Licensed brothel owner Lynette Black has called for a crackdown on rogue bordellos as new figures show a decline in legitimate venues.
The owner of Woolloongabba's Cleo's on Nile said many licensed brothels were struggling to make ends meet in the current environment.
"It's just upsetting that they're allowed to operate. They're just proliferating out there," Ms Black said.
"These massage places … bring the girls in, they farm them out to different houses and work them and then they move them on.
"Some of them don't get paid very well, there's no health certificate, it's just not right. To a certain degree it's like trafficking. "
Queensland's prostitution watchdog has hit out at the phenomenon noting licensed brothels number just 20 - their lowest levels in more than a decade.
"In my view the most significant factor is the proliferation of the so-called 'massage parlour'," Prostitution Licensing Authority chairman Walter Tutt said.
"Many are clearly a 'front' for illegal prostitution which must be addressed, despite the inherent difficulty in acquiring the necessary evidence to secure a conviction.
The authority's latest annual report said licenced brothels accounted for only a small a portion of Queensland's sex industry.
Outside the regulated sphere is solo sex work, which is lawful, and the illegal massage parlours and escort agencies.
"Illegal operations are by their nature unregulated and unscrutinised and there is a heightened risk of the danger of exploitation of workers, violence, and pressure to have unsafe sex," the report said.
Brothels were legalised in Queensland 18 years ago in effort to stamp out links between prostitution, organised crime and entrenched corruption.
Ms Black, a sex worker, recalls the crackdown on illegal sex parlours that took place in 2000.
"They closed every operation down to allow the licensed brothels going," she said.
"They should have another crackdown of all these illegal massage parlours."
Ms Black said legal brothels were paying tens of thousands in fees to open and were subject to scores of conditions on their licence.
"We're doing the right thing, we're paying our taxes and operating legally within the system but these places aren't," she said.
"I don't even know if there's money that stays in Australia goes back overseas or it gets laundered somehow."