SPEAKER 3 – NADA (reproduced with permission)/State Library – Melbourne
My name is Nada, and I am speaking as an individual migrant sex worker.
When speaking about violence against sex workers, what comes to mind as a person who has been in the industry nearly 20 years is not trafficking or even labour violations and bad clients.
The trauma that I have personally experienced as a sex worker is police violence. This seem to ring true for many migrant workers across the globe. Many migrant workers have difficulties in staying within the legal sector of the industry especially in Victoria as the draconian sex work laws force women to register with the government – something most sex workers, let alone migrants are willing to do as this information can be easily be used against us. In migrant worker’s case, it could lead to arbitrary refusals of visas. When a sex worker is in the illegal sector of the industry, it makes the workers more vulnerable to violence as they are seen as easy targets to predators assuming that the person will be less likely to go to the authorities.
As a migrant sex worker, I also can not escape the racism of anti-trafficking movement such as the time when I attended Coalition Against Women In Trafficking when mostly well to do white people talked about Asian women as if we are all almost sex slaves that needs rescuing by westerners. This propaganda spread by those who wants to try to shut town the industry is in complete contrast to the opinion of sex work communities around the world reporting violent raids that are happening in brothels in the name of anti- trafficking and calling it “rescuing of sex slaves”. The people who are spreading propaganda using submissive Asian women stereotypes are usually radical feminists whose ideology states that any penetrative sex is violence against women and casts ALL SEX WORK as violence against women- OR they are Christian Fundamentalists. Either way , these people who believe Asian women are nothing but victims and unable to help themselves without the aid of Westerners should not have ANYTHING to do with us and have no right to talk about us. Further, people who believe sex is inherently violent and has ideological issues with sex work should stay far far away from sex workers or anything to do with sex and certainly should NOT have the right to speak on behalf of sex workers. It is a fact that efforts towards abolition of sex work is proven to be in direct conflict with preserving the human rights and the safety of sex workers irregardless of why they may be in the industry
However, in Victoria, these radical feminists speaks on behalf of sex workers as if they are the authority on sex work and gets all the media attention and funding, they are professors teaching young people at Universities when in reality they are nothing but classist white academics theorizing about other people they have already judged as needing their help. They consistently silence peer based sex work organizations made only of workers which are inclusive of different types of sex workers, gender identities, ethnicities, and drug use – something these xenophobic, racist academics such as Sheila Jeffreys and her western neo-colonialist radical feminists can learn from.
Not only do these people who wish to abolish sex work such as the radical feminists get more air time than the sex workers, in Victoria, we have no funded peer based organisation. Instead, Victoria ignores our human rights by posing sex workers only as a public sexual health issue even though research shows that in decriminalised and legal environment, sex workers are proven to have less STI’s then the general population. The only funded sex work related organisation is a non-peer organisation that is called Resourcing Health and Education in the Sex Industry that claims to improve health of sex workers as if they are the ones to make changes within the industry. It is only the efforts of sex workers themselves that is keeping the industry’s low STI status despite the laws in Victoria of mandatory testing which goes against the recommendations by health organizations. We also have another funded organisation that deals with sex workers – it works like a rehabilitation centre for sex workers in the guise of saving trafficking victims ran by the radical feminists and consistently fuels racist false information about the sex industry to the press and they are called Project Respect. All the while ignoring the actual support we need for work safety.
This year we lost two women in Victoria in violent murder that could possibly have been deterred if there were better laws. One was a sex worker, another was not. Both their lives were equally valuable . Tom Meagher said on the day of sentencing of his wife’s murderer, “ I am aware his previous victims in previous cases before Jill were sex workers, and I’ll never be convinced that doesn’t have something to do with the lenience of his earlier sentence”
When sex work is seen as inherently violent as the radical feminists suggests, violence against sex workers are tolerated due to this very stigma. No assault or violence should be tolerated and no sex workers should experience this. We MUST end violence against sex workers NOW.
Tracy Connelly was murdered this year. I wonder if street based sex work were not illegal and police crack downs did not happen in Victoria, that it might have had positive impact on her life.
What we want is full decriminalisation of the industry. It is a model that all peer based sex work organisation recommends. If you would like to directly do something for sex workers please fund a peer based sex work organisation rather than people that claims to speak on our behalf.