Roxana Diamond in The Conversation, August 7, 2020 12.31pm AEST
This article has links that contain graphic content
Many industries and employees have been hurt by COVID-19. But sex workers, who face stigma and discrimination at the best of times, have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
The United Nations has warned,
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, sex workers all over the world are experiencing hardship, a total loss of income and increased discrimination and harassment.
As both a researcher in the area and sex worker myself, I have seen how sex workers have been an afterthought in Australia’s responses to COVID-19. And how it has been up to sex workers yet again to protect their community, underscoring the importance of decriminalising sex work.
A review into the decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria is currently underway. Join us to learn about sex work decriminalisation from an expert panel including representatives of the Scarlet Alliance, Sex Industry Network, Vixen Collective, SWOP NT and Respect QLD.
The event will feature presentations on the current regulatory framework in different Australian jurisdictions and the lived experiences of sex workers under the criminalised model, followed by a panel discussion covering issues such as licensing, mandatory STI testing, and recent reform efforts.
Forum date & time: Wed, 29 July 2020 at 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM ACST
Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW, July 2020
Priority groups at risk of blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections are still likely to experience negative behaviour from the general public and in healthcare settings according to a recent report from the Stigma Indicators Monitoring Project.
86% of the general public sampled self-reported that they would behave negatively towards people who inject drugs to some extent, as did 56% of healthcare workers and 55% of healthcare students. Additionally, 64% of the general public, and 36% and 31% of healthcare workers and students respectively, self-reported likely negative behaviour (to some extent) towards sex workers.
Re: Introduction of Statutes Amendment (Repeal of Sex Work Offenses) Bill 2020
Today, Tammy Franks, MLC, will be speaking to a new bill that seeks to remove sex work from the SA criminal code. South Australia retains some of the most punitive and archaic sex industry laws in the country. This will be the fourteenth attempt at sex industry law reform in the state with a bill to decriminalise the industry being defeated by a narrow margin in the House of Assembly in November of 2019.
South Australia’s only completely peer based sex worker support organization, SIN, applauds attempts to decriminalise the industry. “Decriminalisation has been evidenced as the best legal framework for ALL sex workers in regard to health and safety”, says Kat Morrison, SIN General Manager. “Sex Industry law reform is long overdue is South Australia. What was once a progressive state that lead the way in inclusive and contemporary law reform now lags embarrassingly behind the times”.
Consensual commercial sexual services, as well as many activities and issues surrounding these transactions, are criminalised within the Summary Offenses Act, 1953 and the Criminal Consolidation Act, 1935. This bill seeks to repeal the inclusion of sex work in these Acts.
For further comment please contact SIN General Manager, Kat Morrison on 0433559337 or email@example.com
International Sex Workers Day on June 2 provides an opportunity for us to support the rights of sex workers in South Australia and advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work.
Sex work is criminalised in South Australia which means that those engaging in relevant sex work activities can be prosecuted for criminal offences. SIN, SIDAC (Sex Industry Decriminalisation Action Committee) and Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) advocate for decriminalisation which is seen as a best practice model by sex workers and supportive community-based organisations.
The decriminalisation of sex work would improve the safety, sexual health, emotional wellbeing and financial security of sex workers. Whilst sex workers may be more vulnerable to assault and exploitation, research shows this vulnerability is impacted by the policing, stigma and lack of labor rights which current sex work laws encourage.
In a recent statement SIDAC said:
“Sex work will always exist, but is up to us to determine and guarantee, the conditions and safety of those involved. South Australia must decriminalise the industry in the best interests of both sex workers and the broader community.”
On this International Sex Workers Day we continue to support the decriminalisation of sex work in South Australia and its potential for positive impacts on the human rights of sex workers and the health of sex workers and the general public.
NOTES:  Platt, L., Grenfell, P., Meiksin, R., Elmes, J., Sherman, S. G., Sanders, T., Mwangi, P., & Crago, A. L. (2018). Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies. PLoS medicine, 15(12), e1002680. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002680Bottom of Form
Sex workers throughout Australia have been devastatingly hit by the impact of coronavirus. As a workforce, sex workers are predominantly a mixture of precarious workers and the self-employed, being independent contractors who work in or for sex industry businesses, or sole traders who work independently for themselves. As such sex workers are particularly marginalised in terms of the impact of the coronavirus and many will still be excluded from the stimulus packages announced by the government.
While we welcome the announcement that from 27 April 2020 sole traders are included in the government’s Economic Response to the coronavirus, many sex workers will still be left without financial support.