Trans woman, sex worker – sent to mens prison in Western Australia

The latest news today on the case of a trans woman living with HIV, who is a sex worker, is that bail has been refused and she has been moved to a men’s prison in Western Australia.

“The court heard [name removed] was being supported by the Sex Workers Association which offered to provide a surety and accommodation should she be granted bail.
However Magistrate Paul Heaney refused bail saying the case was “unusual but very serious” and bail would be inappropriate.
[name removed] was remanded in custody and is due to appear in court again next month.”
– February 23rd 2016, ABC

“Outside court, People For Sex Worker Rights in WA spokeswoman Rebecca Davies told reporters [name removed] was distressed and the group was disappointed bail had been refused.
“We’re really disappointed and deeply concerned that a trans woman is being held in a male facility and we call on the WA government to do something to make sure this never happens to another trans woman ever again,” she said.
“Someone who identifies as a woman has been put in a male prison where they’re probably going to be subject to discrimination, possibly abuse from other prisoners, it’s just not a good scenario.”…”
– February 23rd 2016, WA Today

Quoted in the press on Saturday, local advocates voiced concerns about the treatment of the case in the media and the likelihood of a fair trial:

“…”We are here to support a fellow sex worker who is being vilified in the press,” PSWRWA president Rebecca Davies said.
“We are concerned that the person is not going to be given a fair trial … safer sex is the responsibility of everyone engaging in a sexual activity, not just one party.”…
Ms Davies also feared the case would reinforce the stigma against people living with HIV, saying the release of [name removed] personal health information was inappropriate.
“When we criminalise HIV, people stop getting tested. This is a public health issue, not a criminal one. WA needs to get with the times,” she said.” – February 20th 2016, ABC

This follows on from the woman being extradited last week from Sydney, where she was arrested over allegations of unprotected sex with a male client, resulting in charges of grievous bodily harm in Western Australia.
The woman’s lawyer informed the court in Perth today that the alleged victim was not a client but the two were instead in a consensual relationship.

While the case is not scheduled to return to court until next month sex worker organisation People for Sex Worker Rights in WA continue to advocate for the woman to be moved to a women’s prison and for the matter to be treated as a public health issue – not requiring criminal sanctions.

 

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For more, read the media release from People for Sex Worker Rights in WA, supplied by PSWRWA and re-printed with permission below:

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Media Release
People For Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia
19 February 2016

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
rebecca.davies.rd@hotmail.com

To download the media release as a PDF click here – PSWRWA Media Release – 2016 Feb 19

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Support CJ (preferred name of worker) during her case:

“Every dollar raised from this GoFundMe will go towards ensuring CJ can have her family around her and meeting her direct needs in prison. We may not be able to keep her out of male prison today, but we can at least ensure that she has as much support around her from those closest to her as possible while we campaign to have her moved.”

Click here to visit the GoFundMe and donate – Support CJ Trans Sex Worker

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Want to keep informed and support People for Sex Worker Rights in WA during this case?

Follow PSWRWA on twitter here – @sexworkrightswa

Visit PSWRWA’s Website here – sexworkerrightswa.org

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Media Links

Safety fears for transgender woman in solitary confinement in men’s prison

HIV is a Public Health Issue Not A Crime Say Advocates – Gay News Network

Reports of alleged HIV transmission by WA sex worker highlight stigma

NAPWA, SWOP NSW, Scarlet Alliance, WA AIDS Council, Magenta “HIV transmission should be about public health, not criminal law”

WA Sex Worker Rally – Television Coverage

Despite a regulatory regime hostile to sex workers, making many reluctant to join public protest more than 37 sex workers and supporters gathered at Perth Parliament on the 18th of May 2013 to protest proposed changes to sex industry laws in Western Australia. The Barnett Government’s proposed changes would not only further discrimination against sex workers, but if implemented make Western Australia the most dangerous place in Australia, for sex workers to work.

Local sex worker organisation People for Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia organised the protest and a member of PSR-WA later recorded the broadcast news footage of the protest off of television (three stations had sent news crews).

Rally at Perth Parliament, May 2013 – People for Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia

Sex workers & their supporters are here today to call for the full decriminalisation of the sex industry in Western Australia.

This isn’t complicated.

We’re not asking for special treatment.

We simply want the same things that other citizens enjoy.

To be able to work in our chosen occupation.

To have labour rights & protections for that work.

& beyond that human rights.

Licensing regimes such as that proposed by the Barnett government will reduce sex workers to an existence where:

– sex workers would be licensed & registered like criminals, further stigmatising & marginalising our community

– sex workers would be relegated to isolated industrial zones, risking the safety of workers

– police would remain as regulators of our industry, meaning sex workers would have limited access to justice

– the licensing model proposed is so punitive that it would encourage non-compliance, ensuring a large section of the industry would be driven underground

– because of this sex workers would have reduced access to health and outreach services

Western Australia would become the most unsafe place to be a sex worker in Australia.

Most of this effort seems to be based around the idea of driving us out of the suburbs.

Well let me tell you something:

Where do you think we live?

We are already in the suburbs – because we live there.

We live there, we work there, we send our children to school there.

We are citizens, and daughters and wives, and sisters (or brothers).

We are not from planet sex worker.

We are your neighbours.

We are already living next door.

We may even be friends.

But we most likely will not have told you what we do.

Because we don’t want to deal with the discrimination that comes along with people knowing we’re a sex worker.

Licensing of the sex industry only furthers stigma & discrimination for sex workers.

As I said to begin with – we’re only asking for simple things…

No special treatment.

We want to be able to work in our chosen occupation.

& to have labour rights & protections for that work.

To have human rights.

There’s a simple answer.

DECRIMINALISATION.

Sex workers in Western Australia will accept nothing less.

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For more information read sex worker Rebecca Davies interviewed in WA Today:

Sex workers target WA Parliament