Scarlet Alliance, through its member organisations in Australia has the highest level of contact with sex workers of any organisation in Australia.
Sex worker organisations exist throughout the world. In some countries it is illegal to openly admit to being a sex worker or to have membership of a sex worker organisation. This is a blatant lie designed to silence sex workers and their representative organisations. You may have noticed during this event that there are some differences in language being used, by the people to my LEFT. As Rebecca has explained sex workers, generally prefer to be called sex workers.
When our community, the representative organisations for our community — across the country and across the world, as well as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations all ask people to use the term sex worker you might not think that would be a lot to ask.
Sex work is work. My work is real work. So what do we actually mean when we say that — that the Swedish sometimes called the Nordic Model would give us less rights? Do we imagine the police are just following random people around waiting for them to maybe decide to visit a sex worker? Are there special psychic police that just know when someone might want to pay for sex? Under the Swedish Model police actually target sex workers — the police follow, harass and stake out sex workers while trying to arrest clients.
This pushes sex workers underground, creates barriers to sex workers accessing peer support networks and health services, limits options when choosing clients and negotiating boundaries, increases risk, and makes it almost impossible to go to police if a sex worker is subjected to violence.
Also, so much of the rhetoric put out by anti sex work groups is centred around stigmatising sex workers and encouraging discrimination against my community. That was a short quote. Let me explain why sex workers often seem so angry when dealing with anti sex work groups:.
Not all sex workers are women. Sex workers are people. But it also means people that identify across the gender spectrum. I feel compelled to point out: The individual sex workers and sex worker representatives that have been behind me throughout my speech on the PowerPoint display would like to illustrate that this is a deliberate attempt to mislead you and to silence our community. Agency is your ability to act independently and make your own free choices.
The structure of society around us class, religion, gender, all of these things influence us. They influence ALL of us. Unless you are part of a select minority born into wealth and privilege, yes, you will have to work.
People across the world experience relative degrees of privilege for example white privilege and are also impacted by the social environment in which they live and work. But no worker is ever helped by having less options.
Attempting to criminalise sex work — any part of our work — is attempting to limit our options and in doing so makes our work unsafe. To constrain us from making decisions about where, when and how we work — and most fundamentally whether we should be able to work at all is offensive.
To suggest that we do not is fundamentally offensive. Poverty is a global, awful, complex issue — caused by rich countries, webs of influence, the IMF, bad government, charities that do not listen to the communities they serve or even realise they serve those communities , a host of other factors, as well as social and personal indifference to other peoples suffering. But poverty does not cause sex work — people living in poverty need to work and support themselves and their families — removing another option by which they can do so is not helping them.
It is simply makes the lives of those engaging in sex work whilst living in poverty more dangerous. I would like to give you a list of examples that I keep when I advocate for sex work community — but when I timed my speech including the list it put me three minutes over time.
After this event my speech will be posted online and includes the list of discrimination that sex workers face in Australia, that is NOT a complete list, but illustrative — I would encourage you to access this, as often the concept of discrimination is an intangible concept, invisible if you are not a part of our community. This is a list of examples of the types of discrimination sex workers in Australia face, that had to be omitted from the speech at the W.
Forum on Regulating Sex Work, Wednesday the 12th of August, due to the length of time it would have taken to include it into the event. Please be aware this list is not extensive, also: If there is a discussion on sex work happening in Australia, in government, on policy, in media, on our LIVES — if sex workers are not INCLUDED, if our representative organisations are not there — then be aware a choice has been made to deliberately exclude us.
Equality for sex workers is a future that sex workers are creating every day, through the action and voices of our community and our own sex worker organisations. This future can be achieved more easily with allies by our sides, making space for sex worker voices to be heard and supporting our activism.
It is not aided by anti sex work groups that do not recognise our voices, rarely if ever talk to us, but frequently talk about us — who refer to us as objects: This compares favourably with the general community.
Our decision making committee is made up of current sex workers only. I have been a sex worker for over ten years. I have worked within various legal frameworks in my time, and I have also seen the difference between laws, intentions, and how things are actually implemented on the ground.
I have worked with other sex workers doing sex work, and I have also previously worked as a peer educator providing outreach services and health promotion to sex workers across W. At this point I would like to give some background on Western Australia.
Up until sex work here was illegal. Keeping a brothel, soliciting etc. This policy, which was not law, but rather police policy, started in Kalgoorlie, in the famous or infamous Hay Street area red light district. Under the policy police allowed certain premises to operate only in certain areas of town. The police had to know who was working where. The policy was eventually implemented across the state and certain venues were allowed to operate, workers had to be registered with vice.
I began working after the law change, although some workers were not aware of the change, and police continued to collect information.
Police have never given clear answers about where this information is kept, for what purpose it is kept and who has access to it. Often groups advocating the Swedish Model do not seem to understand that just like full criminalization and licencing, it still positions police as the regulators of the industry. The police cannot be of full assistance to sex workers whilst they are continually cast in this regulatory role, which they are not given in any other industry.
How can we seek assistance if we experience violence, if we are either subject to penalties ourselves, or under the Swedish model, where we would be lining ourselves up for police surveillance whilst simultaneously cutting off our own income?
Also problematic is the reference within the Swedish Model to literally almost anyone as a pimp. Another case that particularly resonated with me is that of Petite Jasmine. Because of her status as a sex worker her children were removed from her custody and given to her violent ex-partner.
He subsequently stabbed her to death. Often when discussing sex worker rights things can become really heated. For us, this is because it is our lives and livelihoods are on the line and at the end of the day, a simple truth remains, changing the law does not actually affect politicians, or even former sex workers, it affects those of us currently working in the industry today.
I am tired of not having full access to my human rights. When you do a bit of digging you will find that they are in fact all referencing the same material, research conducted by Melissa Farley, an anti-sex work campaigner. Farley has conducted a great deal of research on prostitution, her advocacy appears to have permeated her opinions.
Furthermore, in her affidavit, she failed to qualify her opinion regarding the causal relationship between post- traumatic stress disorder and prostitution, namely, that it could be caused by events unrelated to prostitution. I want to be able concentrate on my safety at work rather than police evasion tactics.
You can read the live tweeting of the event at: For more information on joining Western Australian sex workers in campaigning for the full decriminalisation of sex work: For more information on joining sex workers nationally in Australia campaigning for their human rights and labour rights: Western Australian sex workers have condemned the sudden and unexpected decision of MasterCard and Visa to cut payment facilities to two of the largest sex work advertising sites in Australia, Backpage and Cracker, pointing out that it is not only discriminatory but will have catastrophic impacts in the short term for the livelihoods of Western Australian workers left stranded.
We are concerned that workers may lose homes and go hungry before alternative, affordable replacements for those sites emerge. A financial fundraiser has been established and can be located below: Previous appeals to have her moved from the male prison have been unsuccessful. All donations go directly to CJ and will be kept separately for her use only. If you would like to send a message of support to CJ you can write to her at: We ask a minimum of 45 minutes per week from home Responsibilities: Desirable skills include ; Facebook and Twitter knowledge Ability to schedule social media via Hootsuite A witty sense of humour An interest in sex worker advocacy Ability to create graphics or images for social media A willingness to learn.
Events Manager Volunteer Position Time commitment: Thank you all in advance. Let me explain why sex workers often seem so angry when dealing with anti sex work groups: We call it — sex worker activism.
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