Support CJ

Today we received the sentence for CJ Palmer. It has been determined that CJ will serve the sentence in a Male prison. SWEAR members are appalled that WA continues to hold trans and gender diverse individuals in facilities that do not align with their gender identity. CJ is being held in the crisis care unit, away from the general population, forcing her to remain in isolation. This is not appropriate and the impact to individual’s mental health following extended periods of isolation is well documented. SWEAR is hosting a letter writing workshop in the aim of reducing this isolation.

The time has come for the WA sex worker community (and the rest of the nation & globe) to stand up and support one of our fabulous sexy worker sisters. Please support the fundraiser (below), share amongst your networks and write to CJ.

SWEAR invites all current and former sex workers (and allies) to write to CJ and will be hosting a letter writing workshop on the 28th of February. The location  of this will be somewhere in Perth CBD and people can you can contact us via email or social media to find out where to met us.

SWEAR also wishes to extend the offer of support to other incarcerated sexy worker family and you can pass any details directly to our email.

SWEAR also reminds all individuals that the comments on online media are horrible and to stay safe when engaging online. If any of the sexy worker family needs to touch base please flick us an email.

A financial fundraiser has been established and can be located below:

https://chuffed.org/…/solitary-but-not-alone-support-cj-dur…

On the 19th of January, 2018, CJ Palmer, a trans woman and former sex worker was charged with causing grievous bodily harm in relation to the alleged transmission of HIV to her ex-partner. CJ has been remanded in a maximum-security male prison in Western Australia where she has already spent over 9 months while awaiting her trial. Her sentence will also be served in a male prison. As a woman in a maximum security male prison, CJ is forced to stay in isolation in a cell by herself in the Crisis Care Unit.

Previous appeals to have her moved from the male prison have been unsuccessful.

Solitary confinement has been extremely difficult on our sister. Showing that she is not alone is important more now than ever before. Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association* is collecting donations on behalf of CJ in order to top up her commissary account and her phone call allowance each month. These are small ways we can let her know she is still part of the community!

All donations go directly to CJ and will be kept separately for her use only.

CJ would also appreciate any letters. There are restrictions on what you can send in the post and letters will be read by the prison. The prison may also censor the letter if the content is deemed to “jeopardise the security and good order of the prison or is of a threatening or harassing nature”. If you would like to send a message of support to CJ you can write to her at:

Clayton Palmer

Casuarina Prison

Locked Bag No 1

Kwinana Post Office

KWINANA WA 6167

*Scarlet Alliance is Australia’s national peak body representing sex workers, sex worker organisations, projects and collectives. Scarlet Alliance plays an active role in Australia’s response to HIV and in advocating for rights for all sex workers, past and present. See: www.scarletalliance.org.au

Media Release

http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/…/News_Item.2018-01-23.44…

http://invalid.invalid/media/News_Item.2018-01-30.4757

 

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Positions Available

SWEAR welcomes all current sex workers to sit on our committee. SWEAR has multiple positions available at this moment. We are most eager to fill the social media manager and events manager positions. SWEAR is an unfunded sex worker collective and unable to provide any of our committee with compensation. If you are interested in assisting our committee please email us to discuss how you can help, or if the below positions interest you please get in touch via email – swear.wa@gmail.com

Social Media Manager Volunteer Position

Time commitment: We ask a minimum of 45 minutes per week from home

Responsibilities: Manning SWEAR’s Facebook page and Twitter account. This includes posting interesting and relevant content, sharing and retweeting relevant content, promoting SWEAR’s events and responding to messages

Experience required: Sex industry experience is essential. Basic internet skills are essential.

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: 4hours per month

Responsibilities: The organisation and deliver of SWEAR events.

Experience required: Sex industry experience is essential. Basic internet skills are essential.

Desirable skills include;

  • Event organisation
  • Social media knowledge
  • Graphic (images & posters) creation
  • Facebook knowledge
  • Interest in sex worker advocacy
  • Ability to work well with others

To apply

Email SWEAR (swear.wa@gmail.com) with the following;

  • Your chosen name (SWEAR allows all volunteers to use a pseudonym if they wish)
  • Your ability to fill this position
  • Any relevant experience
  • Why you are the perfect person to fill this role
  • Your availability

Other notable things: SWEAR is happy to allow this volunteer role to be job-shared. If you are unable to commit on an ongoing basis, are interested in job-sharing, or have any other concerns please don’t let this stop you applying. Have someone you would like to job-share with? Submit a joint application

 

Support CJ Palmer

Donate Here(Link to GoFundMe)

Most of you will now CJ as the transwoman and sex worker who arrived at a booking to be arrested and given a HIV diagnosis by Police then held in a male prison. I know Cj as one of the kindest, beautiful people I have ever had the privilege to meet and call a friend.

I met CJ after she was released on bail to my best firends house. My bestie is a single mother ans sex worker. She has been my biggest support over the last ten years.

These two individuals are always there to help others. Since her release CJ has provided peer support for many sex workers who fear facing similar circumstances if they engage with testing services. CJ is the person, who despite the fuckery that has been her life over the last 18 onths has put her own shit on hold to hug me as i dealt with the the comparitively small chaos in my life. CJ is the woman who helps my bestie get her kid to school, provides comedic relief in the face of these dark times and cooks awesome dinners for my chosen family. My bestie is a single mother who has taken in CJ’s mum (super thanks to you guys for getting her over here) and CJ, supported CJ financially, provided me and countless others a shoulder to cry on, supported our dreams and advocated for sex worker rights always.

However since CJ’s release late last year my bestie has had the financial stress of another person in her home. Following family deaths requiring international travel, changes to childcare arrangements and emergency house repairs my besties savings have evaporated and her working availability has dramatically decreased.

I am asking each of you to support us in supporting our communtity. Ensure these two gorgeous women have a roof over their heads, electricity, food and access to health care. Donate to the gofundme, share it if you are not in a position to donate. These two people are invaluable members of the sex worker community. Lets support them not with thoughts and prayers but by decreasing the anxiety around paing the bills.

Despite facing terrible adversity CJ is remaining in good spirits. Lets work together to show her the support we have for her. Please share! Please Donate!

 

Volunteers Needed

Hello all,

As you may know, PFSWRWA is an unfunded, volunteer based organisation. Recently many of our committee have found themselves unable to dedicate the time from their busy lives. Which means WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!

We are looking for volunteers who can dedicate 2+ hours a week to PFSWRWA. This does not need to be consecutive hours and this is a rough guide of time. Main duties are online based. Volunteers will receive a lot of support and capacity building in sex worker advocacy, peer support and get to work alongside some pretty rad people.

If you are interested in volunteering  or finding out more, please email us at peopleforsexworkerrightsinwa@outlook.com or see our Contact Us Page. All volunteers must be current sex workers who work in WA.

Please share to anyone who maybe interested, filling these positions is crucial to our continuance.

Thank you all in advance

Perth Sex Workers Speak Out Against Prostitution Narratives

We acknowledge that everybody has a different experience of the sex industry, and that no one person can speak for all sex workers; however, Prostitution Narratives tries to take the experience of a small number of women, and assign that experience to all women in the industry. While we respect the experience of the former sex workers who were involved in Prostitution Narratives, as current sex workers, we are the people who a change in the law would affect – not people who used to be engaged in the industry.
The word trafficking conjures up images of women tied to beds, and this is not the reality. Sex work is the exchange of sex for money, goods, or services, between two consenting adults. It is a far more banal reality than the lurid images those who’ve never done it frequently imagine up. The editors of Prostitution Narratives frequently make an outlandish comparison to chattel slavery; as prominent United States anti-racist organisation INCITE! Women of Colour stated, “in borrowing this narrative, these ‘abolitionists’ exploit Black suffering to provide emotional weight to their own cause”. As sex workers, we are in the rare industry where workers having a negative experience of the industry sometimes inspires those outsiders who have never done it – such as the editors of Prostitution Narratives – to campaign for legislation that has made the experiences of current workers much, much worse. Their views treat our lives as collateral damage in a moral political agenda.
We are especially outraged at the appalling attempt by the editors of Prostitution Narratives to use the 2015 death of prominent Australian sex worker advocate Pippa O’Sullivan, also known as Grace Bellavue, for their own political gain. Pippa was an incredibly strong voice for sex worker rights, who ferociously opposed Melinda Tankard Reist and Caroline Norma’s views and fought tooth-and-nail against the Nordic model and for the decriminalisation of her work for many years. That the editors would use a woman’s suicide to advance a cause that that woman vehemently opposed – without the consent of Pippa’s grieving family – is absolutely disgusting. Pippa’s appalled mother will never have their platform, and has launched a website for people who actually knew and respected Pippa to post their memories to counter the disgusting depiction in Prostitution Narratives.

 

So What About The Nordic Model?

The Nordic model, the legal approach taken towards sex work in Sweden and Norway, is being spun by its supporters internationally, including those behind the Prostitution Narratives launch tonight, as being done in the interests of women in the sex industry. The reality of what it has actually done to Swedish and Norwegian sex workers has been very different, and it has had catastrophic consequences for those who have had to live under it. This is not a bug in the system, rather, it is an intrinsic feature: Ann Martin, the head of Sweden’s anti-trafficking unit and a key promoter of the Nordic model, told a journalist “I think of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution, but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve with the law.”
For all the rhetoric of its promoters, the Nordic model has made being a sex worker in Sweden much more dangerous. Sex workers who work in pairs for safety now risk arrest, so sex workers are forced to work alone – and predators know this. Sex workers cannot report violence to police, because they will be placed under surveillance and lose their livelihood from police trying to catch clients. Sex workers are at great risk of losing children due to the immense stigma towards them; in one notorious case, a Swedish court ruled that a man who was known to be violent was a better parent than a current sex worker. That court ruled that she could only see her child under supervision, and while at one such supervision, that man stabbed her to death. Policing human trafficking has become more difficult, because it is not differentiated from sex work, while the promised “income support programs” to assist workers out of the industry have not eventuated. The amount of sex workers has not gone down, yet their lives have gotten considerably worse as a result.
From 2007 to 2011, police in Oslo, Norway, specifically targeted women in the sex industry for forced evictions, in what was literally called “Operation Homeless”. In 2014 – after that had supposedly ended – nine Nigerian sex workers reported a horrifically violent rape, and police responded by instructing their landlord to evict them or face prosecution. In the same year, another group of migrant sex workers who reported a rape were deported from the country before they had even healed from their physical injuries, while police did not follow up on their rape. Oslo police continue to use the presence of condoms as evidence of sex work, leaving workers in fear of possessing them. The Norwegian government’s own 2014 analysis into the impact of the Nordic model stated “women in the street market report to have a weaker bargaining position and more safety concerns now than before the law was introduced”.
This is the reality of what the Nordic model, sought after by the editors of Prostitution Narratives, has done to sex workers in Sweden and Norway, as anti-sex work ideology was allowed to trump sex workers’ right to be free from violence and persecution. We will not let them do it to us.

 

19.02.2016 Press Release

Allegations of HIV transmission have been made against a transgender person living with HIV, who was also a sex worker in Western Australia.

People for Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia, the peer-led advocacy group for sex workers in Western Australia, does not support criminalisation of consensual sexual activity, including when transmission of a sexually transmitted infection occurs. While we cannot comment on a case before the courts, we believe that sexual health should be treated as a public health issue, not a criminal one.

“Safer sex is the responsibility of everyone engaging in a sexual activity, not just one party,” said People For Sex Worker Rights in WA president Rebecca Davies.

“We have continually seen, both within Australia and globally, that prosecuting people for cases of this nature result in poorer public health outcomes, and a reduction in people going in for sexual health testing. UNAIDS has raised concerns that such criminal laws create disincentives to testing, create a false sense of security for those who believe themselves to be HIV-negative, reinforce stigma against people living with HIV, and result in selective prosecution of people with HIV among otherwise marginalised communities. We share these concerns.”

“It has been extremely disappointing to see the media actively encouraging stigma towards people living with HIV, transgender women and sex workers in their reporting of this case. Such reporting only serves to create fear and misinformation, when it should highlight the need for drastic improvement in public sexual health education.

“We are also extremely disappointed to see repeated transphobic reporting towards the sex worker concerned, including referring to a woman as “male”, using incorrect pronouns, and reporting of her birth name. There can be no justification for such transphobic coverage in 2016.”

“The sexual health of sex workers in Australia has repeatedly been shown to be as good as, if not better than, the general population. A public health-focused response centred on peer education and harm reduction is a far better means of promoting sexual health than harmful measures of criminalisation. We suggest that pouring funds into policing measures while simultaneously seeing funding cuts to sexual health services around Australia is deeply counterproductive.”

Contact:

Rebecca Davies

President, People For Sex Worker Rights in WA

Ph: 0451 984 211

Perth Memorial for Pippa O’Sullivan, aka Grace Bellavue

On Friday the 23rd of October 2015, sex workers and friends gathered together in Hyde Park, Perth to remember and mourn the passing of Pippa O’Sullivan, also well known as Grace Bellavue.

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Pippa/Grace

It was an intimate gathering filled with laughter, scotch, tears, balloons and Pippa’s favourite songs in a park scattered with red umbrellas.

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Carmel Crème prepared a beautiful tribute to Pippa which was read out to those attending:

“PIPPA WAS TRULY AN AMAZING WOMAN WHO TOUCHED THE LIVES OF EVERYONE WHO KNEW HER, OR KNEW OF HER THROUGH HER WRITINGS. Her literary skills were far beyond her years and the way she viewed the world was unique & COMPLEX, BUT her wisdom AND INSIGHT surpassed MOST. HER SENSE OF HUMOUR WAS AS WICKED AS SHE WAS. WHAT MATTERED MOST TO PIPPA WERE PEOPLE, SHE WOULD DROP EVERYTHING TO HELP YOU WHETHER SHE KNEW YOU OR NOT. SHE ALSO INSPIRED PEOPLE TO PURSUE THEIR DREAMS, WHEN THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE THEY COULD. Pippa WAS ALSO a great campaigner for women’s rights, the rights of sex workers and people with mental health issues. SOMETHING WE ARE ALL TRULY GRATEFUL FOR.

Pippa posted this on her FaceBook page, which at the time really stood out to me…

“in my mind in any relationship there is no I, there will never be a you and I, only a very tightly bonded period where collectively we can help ourselves and others”.

I will miss Pippa, as we all will, but I CAN’T say goodbye because when Pippa said she wanted to go home she meant the otherside, I WOULD LIKE TO THINK we will meet again one day.

PIPPA LOVED HER FAMILY AND THEY WERE ALL INCREDIBLY CLOSE, OUR THOUGHTS GO OUT TO THEM ALL, HER PARTNER TIM AND HER BEST FRIEND DEB.

TWO VERY SPECIAL FRIENDS OF Pips who couldn’t be here today is Kate Reynolds, PIPPA INSPIRED KATE TO RECORD THE SONG ‘SKINNY LOVE’ WHICH KATE RERECORDED LAST WEEK IN PIPPAS HONOUR .

ALSO LILY FURY WHO AS PIPPA SAID “WAS THE ONE PERSON THAT SHE TRULY CONNECTED WITH ON EVERY LEVEL”

WHEREVER YOUR SILVER THREADED WINGS HAVE TAKEN YOU PIPPA I HOPE YOU ARE AT PEACE, I HOPE YOU KNOW HOW TRULY LOVED YOU ARE BY SO MANY AND HOW YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN. YOU MADE YOUR MARK ON THIS EARTH AND NO ONE CAN ASK MORE OF YOU THAN THAT.”

This was followed by other workers saying how they came across Pippa/Grace and how she influenced and inspired them through her writing and advocacy. We played “Skinny Love” when we released red balloons in Pippa’s honour, with one rebellious balloon getting itself stuck under the pergola!

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Everyone then had a scotch for Pippa, even the non-drinkers amongst us! And some of us had another! We played Pippa’s favourite music and the last of us didn’t leave until a few hours later.

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It was a beautiful memorial for an amazing woman who will be missed, and remembered always. Many thanks go out to Carmel Crème for organizing this tribute to Pippa, it was greatly appreciated by those in Perth who were unable to attend the funeral in Adelaide. The WA sex worker community thanks you, and thank you to all who attended.

**Please note that all photographs were taken with permission and we were unable to get a full group photo as not everyone is comfortable having their picture taken

To read Pippa’s writings please see: https://gracebellavue.wordpress.com/

Forum on Regulating Sex Work in Western Australia

**Please note: this post contains language that may be triggering/offensive, including whorephobic speech, as it reports on comments made by anti sex work groups and their members**

_______________________________________________________________________________

Speech By Jane Green

My name is Jane Green and I am a current sex worker.

I am speaking today, as a sex worker and also on behalf of Scarlet Alliance, the Australian Sex Workers Association. We are a peer organisation, this means at every level – staff, volunteers, members and executive committee – we are all current or former sex workers. We do not allow owners or operators of sex industry businesses to hold membership in our organisation.
We are a sex worker organisation – and like other sex worker organisations we represent and are accountable to our community.

I do not speak for all sex workers, because no one can.
I speak from my own personal experience of sex work.

That may seem an unusual thing to say when I have just said that I am speaking on behalf of an organisation that represents sex workers across Australia, but let me explain – I am here to speak about facts. Because I believe in facts. I am here to speak about the evidence that sex worker organisations like the Scarlet Alliance here in Australia, but also sex worker organisations across the world have on sex work, on sex workers experiences – and that evidence reflects my own personal experience of sex work.

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.

Anti sex work groups regularly portray sex worker organisations as run by those in positions of privilege, or as “industry lobby groups”. This is a blatant lie designed to silence sex workers and their representative organisations. Instead of a standard power-point display I have chosen to run a display of images of sex workers and sex worker organisations from around the world protesting for the full decriminalisation of sex work – you will be able to see clearly that our community is diverse, yet united, in calling for sex workers’ rights to be recognised.

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.

But it’s a different story when the people you are asking are specifically using language as a tactic to oppress you.
Sex work is work.
My work is real work.
& I have never had anyone adequately explain how having less rights would somehow “save me” or improve my situation.

So what do we actually mean when we say that – that the Swedish (sometimes called the Nordic) Model would give us less rights?
When anti sex work groups talk about the Swedish Model “only criminalising clients ” what does that mean?
For a start it doesn’t just criminalise clients, it also criminalises all of the surrounding activities around sex work – Rebecca has outlined this.
But also, about “criminalising clients” under the Swedish Model, in reality exactly how does that work?

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?
New advanced technology like the Tom Cruise movie ‘Minority Report’ where police can anticipate what you are going to do in the future before you get there?

Surprisingly no.

Under the Swedish Model police actually target sex workers – the police follow, harass and stake out sex workers while trying to arrest clients.
This is what the “criminalisation of clients” looks like in reality.
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.
I would like to point out that I am now going to read a quote, made in relation to the attack on Amnesty International’s support of the decriminalisation of sex work, but please clearly understand that these are the words of an anti sex work group (so I apologise for having to read them, and to those that may find them triggering and offensive):

“Shouldn’t Amnesty be focusing more on ensuring women have a real choice – that they have real agency – by addressing the underlying poverty, discrimination and lack of education that lead women into prostitution..”[1]

That was a short quote.
Let me explain why sex workers often seem so angry when dealing with anti sex work groups:

ensuring women have a real choice”

Not all sex workers are women. Sex workers are people. This may mean women, INCLUDING trans women. This may mean men, INCLUDING trans men. But it also means people that identify across the gender spectrum. & I am not sorry that we do not fit into the box in which anti sex work groups seek to put us.

a real choice”

Thanks for deciding for me, that my choice is “not real”, when comparatively I guess everyone else’s is. Anti sex work groups often claim that any one that actually advocates for sex worker community can’t be representative OF sex worker community. 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.

ensuring … that they have real agency”

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.
Anti sex work groups sometimes focus on the idea that sex workers don’t have “free choice”.
WAKE UP and smell the capitalism!
We ALL live and work in a world where we all have to LIVE and WORK.
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.
Whatever “choices” we have – we have the right to make them. To suggest that we do not is fundamentally offensive.

addressing the underlying poverty”

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.

“..lack of education..”

Okay, thanks for that – it’s nice to know what anti sex work groups think of us.

I’m not sure what level of education they consider appropriate for a particular workforce before intervention and saving is required, but maybe they could tell us? – perhaps a University degree?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures in 2007 indicate that 21% of people aged 25-64[2] in Australia had a Bachelor Degree or above, so by suggesting that “lack of education” (to some standard they have yet to define) is an issue, anti sex work groups may be insulting a larger proportion of the Australian workforce (76%) than they imagine.
& just how educated are Australian sex workers?

In a study conducted by the Queensland Government, also in 2007, 25% of sex workers surveyed had a university degree – so in Australia (or at least in Queensland) we’ve edged out in front slightly[3].

“discrimination”
Sex workers are currently discriminated against in a multitude of ways on a daily basis across Australia.
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.A. 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:
a) it is illustrative of the discrimination that sex workers in Australia face, used as examples when advocating for sex worker community (& sometimes when doing sex worker advocates only have short windows of time in which to advocate),
b) many sex workers experience intersecting marginalisation (for example: sex workers of colour and trans sex workers)
c) the last point is (in my opinion) the most important point

  • Sex workers experience stigma and discrimination through ‘outing’, being exposed as a sex worker, this can impact on workers but also on families, partner/s and friends
  • It can affect school age and/or older children if a parent or carer is who is a sex worker is ‘outed
  • Sex workers may experience interpersonal and/or interfamilial violence when ‘outed’
  • Being a sex worker may affect the outcome of child custody cases
  • Sex worker status may affect access to housing and accommodation
  • Sex worker status affects employment disputes & future employment opportunities
  • Being out or being ‘outed’ as a sex worker leads to discrimination regarding health insurance
  • The ‘Leaking’ and misuse of personal information on sex workers can lead to stalking, blackmail & extortion
  • There are less opportunities for sex workers to utilise remedies to address discrimination
  • Sex workers are discriminated against regarding goods and services (including banking and online commerce)
  • Sex workers have been barred entry to clubs or hotels
  • There is discrimination in education against sex workers (including the exclusion of sex workers from University Courses on ‘morals clauses’)
  • Sex workers are discriminated against regularly in medical settings (for example refusal and/or exclusion from treatment ‘on conscience’)
  • Sex workers have been discriminated against in membership of trade unions
  • Sex workers experience the implication of ‘criminality’ that is implied by registration under licensing regimes
  • Sex workers have less ability to access police/justice under criminalised and licensing systems.
  • There is reduced access to health/outreach services for sex workers under criminalisation/licensing systems for regulating sex work
  • Sex workers experience increased stigma and discrimination in media
  • Police attitudes to sex workers, including corruption and harassment from criminalisation, or entrenched stigma/discrimination from prior criminalisation – affect sex workers ability to access police and their treatment when sex workers do.
  • Sex workers are subject to stalking and harassment from anti sex work groups and their members, including outing to family and in social media
  • Lastly, sex workers are often NOT HEARD – OUR VOICES, SEX WORKERS VOICES are always the most critical voices in ANY discussion about OUR lives and OUR work.

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.

And if anti sex work groups attempt to remove sex workers from discussions about our lives and work, we are not required to sit down, shut up, behave politely and wait for them to stop trying to ‘rescue us’.

We’ve been ‘rescuing’ ourselves for years. We call it – sex worker activism.

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: as “bodies”, say that we are “bought” and “sold”, who call us “product”.

I do not “sell my body”.  My body is still here.  I sell a service.

Suggestions from anti sex work groups and the ‘rescue industry’ that sex workers need others to speak on our behalf, that we are not the experts on our own lives and work – that is silencing our community, that IS exploitation of sex workers.

I cannot expect anti sex work groups to stop working against us.

But I ask you to START WORKING WITH US:
– become a sex worker ALLY
– START speaking up in support of sex workers
– DO NOT BE QUIET when people use hate speech to define us, calling us epithets rather than calling us SEX WORKERS, objectifying us and demeaning us rather than calling our work, just that – SEX WORK
Nothing about us, should ever be without us.

[1] ‘Amnesty International – The Sex Trades New Best Friend’, Tasmanian Times,http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/pr-article/amnesty-international-the-sex-trades-new-best-friend/, Simone Watson, 13-Jul-15.

[2] Refer Australian Bureau of Statistics –http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyTopic/CAB937E9717F783BCA2568A900136267?OpenDocument

[3] In terms of education, about one-quarter of licensed brothel workers and sole operators reported that they had completed a bachelor degree. This compares favourably with the general community. According to an Australian Bureau of Statistics publication, Education and Work, May 2007, 21% of Australians aged between 15 and 64 years had attained a bachelor degree or above..”, Select Sex Industry Statistics, Prostitution Licensing Authority, Queensland Government.

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Speech by Rebecca Davies

My name is Rebecca Davies, I am a Western Australian sex worker and a member of People for Sex Worker Rights in W.A., a peer sex worker group that aims to have our work decriminalized and remove the social stigma sex workers face. Our decision making committee is made up of current sex workers only.

In researching my opponent tonight, I have come to a simple conclusion, Peter Abetz is misguided in his attempts to “help” women. Sticking with his Christian background Peter believes that the government and more importantly men, have a role in regulating women’s bodies. This is evident to me with Peter’s long campaigning for more restrictive abortion laws, saying things such as:

“..the silly thing is if a child is injured in an accident, it can claim damages but if a mother says it’s inconvenient and has the baby killed, the law says that’s perfectly okay..”

in the West Australian, and his persistent attempts to undermine sex workers health and safety by campaigning for the Swedish (sometimes called Nordic) model at every opportunity.

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.A., in sex industry venues, private workplaces and on the street in street based sex work areas.

At this point I would like to give some background on Western Australia. Up until 2000 sex work here was illegal. Keeping a brothel, soliciting etc. way back when, even the police knew this would not work, and the W.A. police, understanding even then, that they could not eradicate the sex industry, implemented what was commonly known as “the containment policy”. 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? Somehow I don’t see myself reporting under those circumstances. I think it is also really important to point out research conducted by Elaine Dowd in 2003, titled “Sex workers rights, human rights the impact of Western Australian legislation on street based sex workers. Dowd cites research from SARC, the sexual assault resource center, which found of sex workers reporting sexual assaults in Perth, over 50% were perpetrated by police.

Also problematic is the reference within the Swedish Model to literally almost anyone as a pimp. Landlords can be charged with pimping if they don’t evict sex worker tenants. There was even a case of a sex workers adult child charged with pimping because his mother didn’t charge him rent. 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. I don’t understand how people can say this is a step towards equality, when a women can have her children removed and a violent man is deemed a more suitable parent because someone doesn’t agree with how she makes a living. As a sole parent and a sex worker this is one of my biggest fears, to have my child removed because you don’t like my job.

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 think the Swedish Model can be summed up by Ann Martin, Sweden’s trafficking unit head who said:

“..of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve with the law..”

I am tired of not having full access to my human rights. People don’t seem to want to listen to sex workers, often statistics are thrown around by academic types such as “..95% of women in prostitution don’t want to be there..” and “..most start in the industry at 13..” amongst other hysterical claims. 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. Since people don’t pay much attention to sex workers discrediting Dr Farley, I find it much easier to quote one of those academic types that people take seriously, Justice Susan Himel, who was the presiding judge in Canada’s supreme court during Bedford v Canada, in which Canada’s anti-sex work laws were struck down. Justice Himel said of Dr Farley’s research:

“Although Dr. Farley has conducted a great deal of research on prostitution, her advocacy appears to have permeated her opinions. For example, Dr. Farley’s unqualified assertion in her affidavit that prostitution is inherently violent appears to contradict her own findings that prostitutes who work from indoor locations generally experience less violence. 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.
Dr. Farley’s choice of language is at times inflammatory and detracts from her conclusions. For example, comments such as “prostitution is to the community what incest is to the family” and “just as pedophiles justify sexual assault of children . . . . Men who use prostitutes develop elaborate cognitive schemes to justify purchase and use of women” make her opinions less persuasive.
Dr. Farley stated during cross-examination that some of her opinions on prostitution were formed prior to her research, including “that prostitution is a terrible harm to women, that prostitution is abusive in its very nature, and that prostitution amounts to men paying a woman for the right to rape her”.

On this basis Judge Himel eliminated Canada’s anti-sex work laws, deeming them unconstitutional.

And furthermore, in the words of Dr Melissa Farley’s own research assistant on her research in New Zealand where she attempts to discredit decriminalization, in 2003 Colleen Winn said the study:

“..was not ethical, and the impact has done harm to those women and men who took part in it. It is for that reason that I am writing to the psychologists’ board of registration in California to lay a formal complaint regarding Melissa. I also believe that Melissa has committed an act of intentional misrepresentation of fact”

I’m not here today to ask you to be pro sex work, and I’m also not asking for anything special, I just want my work to be decriminalized so I can be treated like everyone else. I want to be able concentrate on my safety at work rather than police evasion tactics. My colleagues and I don’t want to be rescued, we just want to live and work in peace.

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You can read the live tweeting of the event at: #SexWorkWA

For more information on joining Western Australian sex workers in campaigning for the full decriminalisation of sex work:
Visit the website of People for Sex Worker Rights W.A.
Or join People for Sex Worker Rights W.A. on twitter at – @sexworkrightswa

For more information on joining sex workers nationally in Australia campaigning for their human rights and labour rights:
Visit the website of Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association)
Or join Scarlet Alliance on twitter at – @scarletalliance

Mastercard and Visa Discrimination

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.”