Sex workers stand in solidarity in calling for full decriminalisation of sex work!

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Vixen Collective, Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation
Media Release – Tuesday 15th September 2015

Vixen Collective, Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation, calls for the full decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria as a vital and urgent step that government must take for the health and safety of Victorian sex workers!

Decriminalisation is the removal of all criminal laws relating to the sex industry, allowing sex work to be regulated like any other business – this does not mean no regulation, but that the sex industry should be regulated like other businesses.

“Violence against sex workers happens not just because of individuals who choose to perpetuate violence, but because the laws governing sex work, and the way sex workers are viewed in our society allows it to.”
MJ – Victorian sex worker

The full decriminalisation of sex work is recognised as the worlds’ best practice model for sex industry regulation – by the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Amnesty International, Australia’s HIV Strategy, multiple medical studies, and sex workers’ representative organisations across Australia and the world.

It is critical that the voices of sex workers be heard, in order for the rights of sex workers be recognised, and the safety of sex workers given protection by law.

” Stop talking about sex workers and start listening to us!”
Rahni Belle – Victorian sex worker

Victorian sex workers stand in solidarity with sex workers in New South Wales, as an Inquiry into the Regulation of Brothels in NSW places decriminalisation there under threat.

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We recognise full decriminalisation of sex work is the only acceptable model of regulation for sex workers’ human rights, labour rights, health and safety.

We ask the NSW Legislative Assembly Select Committee on the Regulation of Brothels recognise this also, and in doing so endorse retaining decriminalisation in NSW as the only acceptable outcome of the inquiry.

Signed in solidarity, and agreement of the above:

Jane Green, Media Liaison, Vixen Collective (Victoria’s Peer Only Sex Worker Organisation)

Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association)

Cameron Cox, CEO, Sex Workers Outreach Project New South Wales (SWOP-NSW)

Leanne Melling & Skye Ozanne, Sex Workers Outreach Project Northern Territory (SWOP-NT)

Renai Buchanan, Organiser, People for Sex Worker Rights Western Australia (PSR-WA)

Candi Forrest, Treasurer, Respect Inc (Support for Queensland Sex Workers)

Tarkwin Coles, President, Sex Worker Action Group – Gaining Empowerment, Rights & Recognition (SWAGGERR)

Lexxie Jury, Peer Education Officer, Sex Workers Outreach Project Australian Capital Territory (SWOP-ACT)

Sharon Jennings, Manager, South Australian Sex Industry Network (SIN)

Josephine Rayson, Acting Manager, Magenta (Sex Worker Support Project for Western Australia)

Resourcing health & EDucation (RhED), a program of Inner South Community Health (ISCHS)

Lucy Blake, Delegate, Nothing About Us Without Us (NAUWU)

Difficult Debby & Despo Debby, Members, Debby Doesn’t Do It For Free (Sex Worker Arts & Performance Collective)

Saul Isbister, President/Public Officer, Touching Base Inc

Fiona Patten, MLC for Northern Metropolitan (Victoria Parliament), Australian Sex Party

Simon Ruth, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian AIDS Council

Brent Allen, CEO, Living Positive Victoria

Jenny Kelsall, Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria

Mark Stoové, Associate Professor, Burnet Institute Principal for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Burnet Institute

Dr Graham Brown, Snr Research Fellow, Aust. Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University

Rob Lake, Executive Director, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO)

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For further media information/interviews, please contact – Jane Green, Vixen Collective Media Liaison: 0420 887 845

Click here to download Media Release as a PDF

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Want more information on the NSW Inquiry into the Regulation of Brothels?

‘Sex workers concerned about calls for changes in the way NSW brothels are regulated’ – Sydney Morning Herald

‘Why sex worker laws do not need changing’ – Alt Media

NSW Inquiry into the Regulation of Brothels – Public Submissions

Want to join the campaign to retain decriminalisation of sex work in NSW?

Sign and share the petition here: Save Decriminalisation in NSW for Sex Worker Health & Safety

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Want more information on Victorian sex workers calling for full decriminalisation of their work?

‘An Open Letter to Tom Meagher from St Kilda Street Based Sex Workers’ – Feminist Ire

‘Queer Sex Workers and Decriminalisation: The Key to Fighting Stigma’ – Star Observer

‘Reclaim the Night/Take Back the Night’ – Melbourne 2013

Want to join Victorian sex workers in campaigning for decriminalisation?

Follow Vixen Collective on Twitter here: @VixenCollective

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Click here for listing of Sex Worker Organisations in Australia

The “best of times” & the “worst of times” (SlutWalk 2015)

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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[1], Australian Sex Workers Association and also Vixen Collective[2], Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation.

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

This has been a difficult speech for me to write, not because there is a lack of things to say – but because there is so much.

Much like the Dickens quote, I often feel like it is both the “best of times” and the “worst of times”.

The “best of times” because as sex workers we are constantly fighting for our rights, often achieving so much, and yet it is still the “worst of times” because conservatives and anti-sex work feminists are arrayed against us trying to erase our successes and criminalise our work and lives.

To us, to sex workers, this fight is eternally visible – it is the fabric of our lives and work. But to those that are not part of our community it is often hidden and I believe this is what makes it easier for people to turn away from our struggles, rather than joining us as allies.

Sex worker organisations across Australia and across the world work ceaselessly for the full decriminalisation of sex work – this is supported by the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Human Rights Watch, Australia’s National HIV Strategies, Scarlet Alliance, Vixen Collective, sex worker organisations nationally and globally – and most recently Amnesty International. Yet we are still working, we are still fighting.

I would like to take you on a tour of what that work is like for me as a sex worker and survivor of rape, over just the last two months.

Vixen Collective, of which I am a member, recently filed a submission with the Royal Commission Into Family Violence (Victoria)[3] . Sex worker organisations across Australia work tirelessly on violence against sex workers, and laws such as the licencing system in Victoria make it much harder for sex workers to report violence to police, or to seek justice through the courts.

Imagine my depressing lack of surprise when submissions to the Royal Commission began to be published and I realised anti-sex work group Project Respect had claimed in their submission that they were the:

..leading agency addressing violence against women in the sex industry[4]

This strangely omits in Victoria – Vixen Collective, RhED[5] and Melbourne Sexual Health[6] -but also every other sex worker organisation in Australia.

Project Respect, commonly referred to as Project (dis)Respect by sex workers, also states that:

“..failing to address family and other male violence against women in the sex industry makes other women vulnerable to men’s violence..[7]
This is a shocking form of victim blaming – essentially blaming sex workers for violence against ALL women – rather than focusing on perpetrators of violence and the systemic causes of that violence.

Most important is the fact that Project Respect is NOT a sex worker organisation but rather an organisation that seeks to criminalise our work, via the Swedish Model[8] of sex work regulation, which would place sex workers at greater risk of violence.

Project Respect also publicly state that they are working towards the abolition of ALL sex work[9].

But this is common. Anti-sex work groups attempts to silence sex workers in Australia abound.

Vixen Collective held the Festival of Sex Work[10] in August of this year. There were sex worker only peer education workshops. Public events to demystify sex work. Social events for sex workers, a film night, lunches, and much more.

As part of the closing of the Festival a protest was held in Swanson Street and photos (of sex workers that were comfortable having their photo taken) were posted on social media.

We were almost immediately attacked by a member of an anti sex work group on Twitter – claiming that there were no “women of colour..but plenty of white men”.

Now I have nothing specific against white men (many of them give me money), but I only remember five or so “white men” out of about nine-five protesters, and the lead speaker was Rory – an aboriginal street based sex worker.

So either the person attacking us on Twitter was at a different protest or they just made that up to be a troll. Which is actually a common thing – harassing sex workers online.

Second only to harassing sex workers in person.

Since I’ve been involved in sex worker activism I have had my photo taken by radical feminists, been called a “cult leader” on the internet, had “pimp lobby”[11] shouted at me while speaking at an Amnesty International meeting and been called privileged so many times that as a ex-street based sex worker, rape survivor, someone who has experienced homelessness throughout my life, and member of a marginalised community subject to stigma and discrimination – that I’m frankly a little over it.

But I’m also over it because when it comes to the laws that affect sex workers lives and work – the voices of ALL current sex workers are critical. Because regardless of what anyone else says we’re the ones who have to go back to work tomorrow and live with the consequences. It is our lived experience that counts and it is our lives that will be affected.

Crowd at Slut Walk Melbourne, Sept 5th 2015

Crowd at Slut Walk Melbourne, Sept 5th 2015

Finally I want to tell you about what I experienced when speaking in Western Australia, at a forum on sex industry regulation[12], opposite Peter Abetz (a Liberal politician) and Simone Watson (current Director of NorMAC, an anti-sex work group).

Much of the rhetoric of both of the opposing speakers centered around silencing sex workers. Anti-sex work groups often like to claim that either sex workers are so downtrodden we can’t speak for ourselves (and must be rescued) or if we do speak for ourselves then it’s a sign we’re privileged (so we shouldn’t be listened to).

This is a tactic used by anti-sex work groups, designed to silence anyone who does not agree with them. But what is really telling if you listen to anti-sex work groups, is the language they use to describe sex workers:

They call us “product” not people

They say sex workers “sell their bodies”, but my body is still here, I sell a service

But most tellingly – just one day after the Amnesty International decision to endorse decriminalisation of sex work – Simone Watson, Director of NorMAC, said the following:

“…at McDonalds you’re flipping the burgers, in prostitution you’re the meat…”

Let me be quite clear.

Those that seek to deny sex workers human rights – are essentially denying sex workers are human.

Those that outright call sex workers “meat” – aren’t even trying to hide it.

So I go back to what I said at the start.

To us, to sex workers, this fight is eternally visible – it is the fabric of our lives and work.

To you, I hope it is now more visible – make a choice, make a difference – join us as allies.

(If you’re not sure what you can do, ask us how)

proud01x

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Want more information on joining sex workers in fighting for the full decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria?
Join Vixen Collective on Twitter here: @VixenCollective
Or visit Vixen Collective’s website – vixencollective.blogspot.com.au

Want to support sex worker rights at a national level in Australia?
Join Scarlet Alliance on Twitter here: @scarletalliance
Or visit Scarlet Alliance’s website – scarletalliance.org.au

You can follow me directly on Twitter at: @sexliesducttape

To find the details of other state and territory sex worker organisations – click here

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References

[1] Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association), http://scarletalliance.org.au/

[2] Vixen Collective (Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation), http://vixencollective.blogspot.com.au/

[3] Royal Commission Into Family Violence (Victoria), http://www.rcfv.com.au/

[4]Project Respect is the leading agency addressing violence against women in the sex industry“, Project Respect Submission into the Royal Commission on Family Violence, pg2

[5] Resourcing Health and Education (RhED), http://sexworker.org.au/

[6] Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, http://www.mshc.org.au/

[7] Project Respect Submission into the Royal Commission on Family Violence, pg2

[8] Amnesty (again) – Statement to the AGM, https://sexliesducttape.me/2014/07/06/amnesty-again-statement-to-the-agm/

[9] From Project Respect website, ‘Our Vision’: “Project Respect’s vision is for a world where women are free from..prostitution..”

[10] Festival of Sex Work, http://festivalofsexwork.blogspot.com.au/

[11] Amnesty International: Decriminalising Sex Work – What Are the Issues?, https://sexliesducttape.me/2014/07/05/amnesty-international-decriminalising-sex-work-what-are-the-issues/

[12] Forum on Regulating Sex Work in Western Australia, https://sexliesducttape.me/2015/08/12/forum-on-regulating-sex-work-in-western-australia/

Sex Worker Organisations In Australia

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Australia Wide

Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) *PEER*
Phone – 02 9517 2577
Website – http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/
Twitter – @scarletalliance

Debby Doesn’t Do It For Free *PEER*
Phone – N/A
Website – https://www.facebook.com/debbydoesntdoitforfree
Twitter – @theDebbys

Touching Base *NON-PEER*
Phone – General Inquiries 0424 591 409, Referrals List 0499 054 400
Website – http://www.touchingbase.org/
Twitter – @TouchingBaseInc


Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

SWOP-ACT (Sex Workers Outreach Project Australian Capital Territory) *PEER*
Phone – 02 6257 2855
Website – http://aidsaction.org.au/services-programs/swop/
Twitter – @aidsactionact
NB – twitter is for AIDS Action ACT the organisation that auspices SWOP-ACT


New South Wales (NSW)

SWOP-NSW (Sex Workers Outreach Project New South Wales) *PEER*
Phone – (02) 9206 2166 or Free Call 1800 622 902
Website – http://www.swop.org.au/
Twitter – @SWOPnsw


Northern Territory (NT)

SWOP-NT (Sex Workers Outreach Project Northern Territory) *PEER*
Phone – 08 89447707
Website – http://www.ntahc.org.au/programs/sex-worker-outreach-program
Twitter – @ntahc
NB – twitter is for NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council the organisation that auspices SWOP-NT


Queensland (QLD)

Respect Inc *PEER*
Phone – Townsville 07 4724 4853, Brisbane 07 3835 1111, Cairns 07 4051 5009, Gold Coast 07 5564 0929
Website – http://www.respectqld.org.au/
Twitter – @respectqld


South Australia (SA)

SIN (Sex Industry Network) *PEER*
Phone – 08 8351 7626
Website – http://www.sin.org.au/
Twitter – @sexindustrynetw

Swaggerr *PEER*
Phone – N/A
Website – https://www.facebook.com/swaggerradelaide
Twitter – @SwaggerrSA


Tasmania (TAS)

Tasmanian Sex Worker Project *PEER*
Phone – 03 6234 1242 OR 0451 835 897

 

Victoria (VIC)

Vixen Collective (Victoria’s Peer Only Sex Worker Organisation)*PEER*
Phone – 0414 275 959
Website – http://vixencollective.net
Twitter –@VixenCollective

RhED (Resourcing Health & Education) *NON-PEER*
Phone – 1800 458 752
Website – http://sexworker.org.au/
Twitter – @InnerSouth
NB twitter is for ISCHS the organisation that funds RhED

 

Western Australia (WA)

Magenta *NON-PEER*
Phone – 08 9328 1387
Website – http://www.magenta.org.au/
Twitter – @srhwa_library
NB twitter is for SRHWA (Sexual & Reproductive Health W.A.) the organisation that funds Magenta

PSR-WA (People for Sex Worker Rights W.A.) *S/W-LED*
Phone – N/A
Website – http://sexworkerrightswa.org/
Twitter – @sexworkrightswa

 

NOTE:

PEER: Peer sex worker organisations are organisations where all those involved in the work of the organisation (members, staff, board/committee and volunteers) are current or former sex workers.

S/W-LED: Sex worker led organisations are organisations where all decision making is by current or former sex workers, but non peers may be involved in other aspects of the organisations work.

NON-PEER: Non-peer organisations are organisations that work with sex workers or on sex worker issues but are neither fully peer or sex worker led.  Non-peer organisations are only listed here if they are associate members of the Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association (i.e. their principles and practices are in general alignment with the constitution of the national organisation, and are not contrary to the human rights of sex workers).