21 Mar President’s Report – March 2019
One of the WLASA’s key strategic objectives is achieving justice and equality for all women in the community and in 2019 the WLASA will continue to place a strong and dedicated focus on its policy work. The WLASA’s policy agenda crosses over a number of important issues. One of the policy issues of high priority for the WLASA in 2019 is our ongoing, active support of the campaign for the full decriminalisation of sex work in South Australia.
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to visit the attached link and read a blog authored by our Policy Sub-Committee Chair, Jessie MacGillivray which provides an informative summary and legislative history of the proposed reforms.
In supporting this important reform, it is the position of the WLASA that:-
- Decriminalisation of sex work supports the rights of women to have control over their own bodies. In our view, the decriminalisation reforms currently proposed, strike the right balance between protecting vulnerable people (such as children) while putting in place laws which permit adults who choose to engage in this work to do so in a legitimate and safer way; and
- Sex workers face exceptionally high risks to their health and safety. Decriminalisation could reduce these risks by empowering workers to insist on safe (protected) sex, it would enable Work Health and Safety inspections of workplaces, sex workers would be entitled to access workers’ compensation benefits when injured at work and it would allow sex workers to access the support of unions and other formal associations; and
- Decriminalisation eliminates the risks that clients of sex workers can exploit sex workers with threats of reporting them to the Police.
From a legal and policy perspective the merits of the proposal to move to full decriminalisation of sex work are clear.
However it is the personal stories and views of the sex workers themselves that serve to make the most compelling case for these reforms.
Let me share some of their voices with you.
‘Last year this line of work was reported to my old employer by someone who remained unknown!! It almost ruined my family life and caused me my professional job. I am now working hospitality and I’m very worried that the same will happen so laying low is best for now. I would have no hesitation (if I could advertise without being worried about getting caught by either police or my new job) doing sex work again full time’
‘I love being a sex worker! It’s fun, liberating and makes me feel confident and comfortable about myself as a woman. I have met some super lovely men working this job and of course unfortunately met some disgusting men.
I am currently laying low as all the police activity really scares me as I work privately from my house or clients houses.
Sex work helped me get out of a really rough time I was having with money and my mental health.
Currently I have a nice little network of trusted regulars and that’s all I work.’
‘Stories like this are everyday occurrences in a sex workers life and who are we to judge why someone may see an escort? Decriminalisation helps willing people like me who love their jobs to work with safety and protection from the law and less stigma. Let us educate you and listen to our stories. We are like any other service industry.’
‘The client I saw today is so painfully shy that he couldn’t even look me in the eye. He is from overseas and has no friends or family here. He wants to talk about his home and be held and caressed. I really like him and he likes me. Intimacy is an important part of what he needs that he can’t get from a counselor or a massage therapist. I feel good because I make him feel great for an hour and maybe he won’t go home and feel sad tonight. I don’t think anyone is being exploited in this situation. I am the best service for his needs and we have a fun time. He willingly pays for my time like any other service industry.’
‘I want people to understand that paying for intimacy is not dirty. Many people are single and have given up hope of finding a partner, are painfully shy, have disabilities, or work long hours etc… Some married people tell me their partner gives their approval to visit me. Yes, some people cheat, but they will anyway regardless of if they are paying for sex or having an affair. Why should sex be legal for free be illegal for payment? It’s crazy!’
‘I would feel safer if my work was decriminalized as then punters wouldn’t feel they have the right to hurt us. Guys think they’ll get away with it because what we’re doing is currently illegal. It’s not safe to do what I do while the laws are like this. I hope that one day I’ll be able to do what I love doing without fear.’
‘I’m a mature lady who mostly sees older clients. They are often widowed and lonely, so really appreciate the companionship more than anything. Being a sex worker gives me great satisfaction knowing I’m making these gentlemen’s lives a little happier. Everyone needs physical contact as we’re all human after all! It would be wonderful if my service was decriminalized so I don’t have the constant worry about being arrested or charged for doing what I consider to be a very necessary service.’
‘I don’t work in brothels anymore cos I was worried the police would visit every time I was on shift. I really miss working with the other girls, you know, I felt safer with them around. Now I work privately from motel rooms. I’m getting less work and I feel less safe in a motel room by myself. Mostly I love being a sex worker, I just wish I had more of a say about where and how I work without having to worry about cops.’
The decriminalisation of sex work is a common sense solution that will safeguard the human rights of sex workers, protect them from exploitation and will promote their health, safety and welfare.
On 28 March 2019 at 6.45pm, the Sex Industry Decriminalisation Action Committee and SIN are hosting an evening of discussion at the West Adelaide Football Club, 57 Milner Road, Richmond with ‘Dames of Decriminalisation’ Julie Bates AO (NSW) and Dame Catherine Healey (NZ).
If you would like to learn more about these important proposed reforms and the positive impact these reforms would have for sex workers, I encourage you to come along to the event and participate in what will no doubt be a lively and informative discussion.
Please click here for details of the event and how to book tickets.