Every now and then, you'll hear news reports of somebody trying to sell their virginity online. Most recently, a 20-year old student from Russia is auctioning off her virginity so she can raise funds to study abroad. People are willing to pay big bucks to pop somebody's cherry, sometimes these numbers can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. But is it legal to sell your virginity in Australia? Let's find out.
Historically, virginity, especially when it comes to females, is highly prized, often for moral or religious reasons. Girls who have yet to experience sexual intercourse are considered pure and being a virgin used to be a prerequisite for marriage in a number of cultures.
But times have changed and sex, at least in modern Western societies, is just part and parcel of dating. Premarital sex is common and people wouldn't bat an eyelid over it. Now, virginity has been turned into a commodity by a select handful of women who want to cash in on this scarce asset.
There are many reasons why these women would want to let somebody pay to have sex with them for the first time. One woman wanted to pay off several houses with the money she received. Some have cited that they wanted to pay off their medical school fees.
We're going to stay out of any moral arguments for or against a person selling their own virginity; it's difficult to judge them for their actions because it's their own body and they have every right to dictate what they want to do with it, even if others may be horrified at what they're doing.
But we can look at the legal side of things in Australia.
Selling your virginity would fall under prostitution and laws vary from state to state. In the ACT, under The Prostitution Act 1992, brothels are legal but all sex workers in the state must register with the Office of Regulatory Services. Soliciting remains illegal.
In NSW and Victoria, sex work is legal but it is regulated. In Victoria, street prostitution continues to be illegal. In NSW, advertising of sexual services is an offence but, according to Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, this are rarely enforced.
In Northern Territory, the laws around prostitution is more restrictive. Brothels and street prostitution are illegal but you can apply for a licence to run an escort service. In South Australia, brothels and prostitution in general are illegal.
While brothels are technically illegal in Western Australia, they have long been tolerated and prostitution itself is legal.
In Tasmania, prostitution is legal but pimping is not. According to Safe World For Women, a not-for-profit organisation for women's safely, has said the state has "the most comprehensive law preventing advertising of virgins in the sex industry":
"The law states that any advertisement that implies that the sex worker is under 18 years of age, or is a virgin, is prohibited."
Some online auction sites have strict policies the sale of sexual services. For example, eBay lists it under Prohibited services, "which include services that are illegal or sexual in nature or that violate the eBay User Agreement". Gumtree does have a policy against explicitly advertising sexual services, but we can't vouch for how well this is enforced on the site. Having said that, there are auction sites out there that are more relaxed on these issues, or at least able to facilitate the sale of services that allude to sex.
So in most Australian states, there are ways to work around the law to make it legal for somebody to sell their own virginity, be it through a brothel, an escort service or by themselves. We're definitely not advocating this practice, but as it stands, you can legally sell your virginity, at least in some parts of Australia.
Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.