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.
“Both sex work itself and the advertising of sexual services are legal in Western Australia, and yet MasterCard and Visa made a decision that places at risk the livelihoods of Western Australian workers who rely on their services to pay for advertising,” Sarah from peer sex worker group People For Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia said today.
“This decision effectively blocks workers from paying for their advertising on the sites that hold a near-monopoly on the low-to-mid-end rage of the market, leaving them completely stranded. We are concerned that workers may lose homes and go hungry before alternative, affordable replacements for those sites emerge.”
“The decision of MasterCard and Visa appears to be an overreaction to a grandstanding local politician in Chicago in the United States, and yet workers in Western Australia, working in a completely different legal and social environment, face going to the wall and potentially losing everything as a result.”
“MasterCard Australia and Visa Australia should distance themselves from the actions of their US parent company and resume services to Australian sex workers as a matter of urgency before it further marginalises already marginalised workers.”