Sex workers in South Australia and throughout Australia are heartbroken after the Members of the House of Assembly turned their backs on the rights and safety of sex workers in SA, despite widespread community support for decriminalisation of sex work.
The long awaited and widely claimed SA Decriminalisation of Sex Work Bill 2018 was narrowly defeated in the 2nd reading of the Lower House by just 5 votes. Nineteen members voted to pass the Bill and twenty four votes against.
Two of South Australia’s surgical abortion services have been shut down over the past 18 months, amid community concerns about the impact on women seeking care.
In January, services were relocatedfrom the main abortion provider in the state, the Pregnancy Advisory Centre in Adelaide’s inner-western suburbs, moving all surgical abortions to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
SA Health is now looking at relocating the abortion service permanently to the QEH during the hospital’s redevelopment.
On 31 May 2019, the Sex Industry Network (SIN) will gather at Parliament House to rally for the decriminalisation of the South Australian sex industry and to recognise International Sex Workers Day.
In South Australia sex work is criminalised, prohibiting sex work so that those engaging in relevant activities can be prosecuted for criminal offences. SIN and Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) advocate for decriminalisation which is seen as a best practice model by sex workers and community-based organisations.
In a recent statement SIN said:
“Sex work is skilled labour. We deserve the same industrial protections as any other worker in South Australia and, currently, what sets us apart is the criminalisation of the industry within which we CHOOSE to work.”
Natasha Miliotis, Chief Executive of SHINE SA said:
“We support the work of SIN and their advocacy for the decriminalisation of sex work in SA.
Amnesty International, the United Nations and the World Health Organization have all called for the full decriminalisation of consensual sex work as the scientific evidence is now clear – criminalisation itself leads to harm¹.
From a public health perspective decriminalisation is important to not only reduce stigma and discrimination, but to improve the health and safety of workers, clients and the broader community².”
For more information on SIN’s celebration of International Sex Workers Day and the rally for the decriminalisation of the South Australian sex industry visit www.sin.org.au.
The Sex Industry Network will rally outside parliament on Friday for International Sex Workers Day after Greens MLC Tammy Franks earlier this month introduced new legislation to legalise sex work in state.
The Legislative Council passed a similar bill in July last year however it failed to pass the lower house before the March election.
June 2nd is International Sex Workers Day, which celebrates the birth of the sex worker rights movement, which originated in Lyon France, forty three years ago in 1975. On this day, sex workers staged a church ‘sit in’ to protest police brutality and the lack of police attention to crimes against sex workers. Soon community members joined sex workers and challenged the police to distinguish who is and who isn’t a sex worker, making it difficult for the police to make arrests.
This year, on June 1st, as part of International Sex Workers Day celebrations, Adelaide sex workers and their supporters, including other sex industry staff, health professionals, friends, family and clients of sex workers, will rally at 4 pm on the steps of Parliament House, with a message for the South Australian government, demanding the decriminalisation of sex work in South Australia.
The laws pertaining to sex work in South Australia are contained in the Summary Offences Amendment Act (1953) and the Criminal Law Consolidation Act (1935). “South Australian laws have not moved with the times and are putting sex workers at considerable risk of harm” said Sharon Jennings, manager of SIN.
Queensland sex workers say they face a dilemma — break the law to stay safe, or obey it and put their lives at risk.
Chrissie (whose last name is withheld) has been working as a fly-in, fly-out sex worker in regional Queensland for the past eight years and is one of many sex workers along with organisation Respect calling for a law change.
“I can’t think of any other occupation where you are prohibited from telling anyone where you are going for your own safety,” she said.