My Submission for the Inquiry into the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 – Exposure Draft Legislation

Political Lobbying

THE SENATE

STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

Inquiry into the Human Rights and
Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 – Exposure Draft Legislation

 

I am writing this submission to ask that my human rights as a legal, lawful sex worker be included in Federal Law in line with the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 so that State Law cannot discriminate against me and remove my civil liberties like what happened recently in Queensland.

I live and work in Queensland and I have been in complete turmoil over the recent Amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Act, sec 106C, which now allows LEGAL DISCRIMINATION specifically against sex workers in the area of accommodation.  I was physically ill.  This came about because of a high profile anti-discrimination case in Queensland where the legal sex worker GK was found to have been discriminated against and WON. 

Then we all were reminded of the actual depth of corruption and discrimination against sex workers in the Queensland government when our own Attorney-General Mr Jarrod Bleijie began a very public campaign, along with our Premier Mr Campbell-Newman and other Australian Christian Lobbyists to perpetrate the most heinous vilification and discrimination crime against sex workers.  Their political interference in this case is blatant, disrespectful and makes a mockery of existing laws.  What’s the point of human rights if they can simply be taken away at the whim of renegade politicians and rednecks whenever they feel threatened?  I think Queensland is corrupt.  The anti-discrimination case debacle is a prime example of why.

Despite 100% of the submissions received being against supporting legal discrimination, the Bill was still passed.  The arguments that were used in parliament to support legal discrimination, appeared to be based on misguided morals that did not seem to care about the rights of sex workers, arguing that the rights of hotelier and moteliers were more important.  They did not seem to care that there were already laws in place to protect hoteliers and moteliers from the usual disruptive guest in their establishment, because they were collectively discriminating on the basis that we are sex workers.  They were discriminating against a minority group based on negative stereotypical assumptions about sex workers that are simply fabrications.

The amount of potential harm this Bill can cause to sex workers, their partners, children, families and friends is HUGE.  How can this type of discrimination be allowed to occur in Australia in this day and age?  Since when is legal discrimination ever an option?  We may as well be living in Uganda where they are trying to pass the ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill at the moment.

I have experienced discrimination directly in my life as a sex worker.  I have been evicted from my leased accommodation, physically locked out of my carpark, my gate codes changed so I couldn’t get in.  I have had money stolen by real estate agents withholding part of my rent for no reason other than because I am a sex worker. 

I used to play Roller Derby.  I was outed as a sex worker by someone to my team and I was shunned by them.  I was targeted by them on the flat track.  I was not included in social events.  I was segregated and ostracised.  I joined roller derby to feel more empowered and to actively participate in the community.  I was met with stigmatisation and marginalisation, both direct and indirect discrimination. 

My self esteem plummeted.  I began to feel depressed.  I withdrew into my apartment and avoided contact with the outside world.  I generally felt bad about myself and it took me a long time before I could pick myself up and move on.

I pay tax.  I work within the Law.  I respect myself, my colleagues and my clients.  I would like to be shown some respect by the Australian government in Federal Law so that my faith in Australia signing up to international Human Rights Constitutions is not thrown back in my face.  I want to know that my Federal government is taking the recommendations of the United Nations reports about sex workers seriously.

Sex workers are real people, with real lives, with real families, with real children, with real friends.  We are EVERYWHERE in society but most of the time you don’t even know we are there.

 

Kind regards,

Jodine

Sex Worker

www.escortjodine.com

Stop Legal Discrimination in Australia

Political Lobbying

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

The Queensland Attorney-General, Mr Jarrod Bleijie has successfully campaigned to change the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to allow legal discrimination to occur in Queensland.  Section 106C was passed to specifically target sex workers in the area of accommodation.  It effectively removes the ‘Lawful Sexual Activity’ part of the Act which has protected sex workers from discrimination by hoteliers/moteliers, landlords and body corporates to date.  Our basic human right to live and work in peace, free from harassment and vilification have been compromised.

Supporting ‘legal’ discrimination is an oxymoron and against the United Nations ‘Universal Human Rights Constitution’.  The Prostitution Act 2000 made sex work legitimate work within Queensland and sex workers are protected under the provision of ‘Lawful Sexual Activity’. Despite other area’s of law which currently still protect hoteliers/moteliers, landlord’s and Body Corporates from noisy guests, legal discrimination puts sex workers, their partners, children, friends and family directly into danger and at risk of abuse and corruption all over Australia.

On 21 November 2012, the Senate referred Exposure Draft legislation for the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 (Exposure Draft Bill) to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee (committee) for inquiry and report.  The Exposure Draft Bill seeks to consolidate existing Commonwealth anti-discrimination law into a single Act, replacing the Age Discrimination Act 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.

The Exposure Draft Bill proposes a number of reforms to Commonwealth anti-discrimination law, including:

·         introduction of a single, simplified, test for discrimination applying to all protected attributes;

·         coverage of additional protected attributes including sexual orientation and gender identity;

·        coverage of discrimination and sexual harassment in any area of public life;

·         a streamlined approach to exceptions, including a new general exception for justifiable conduct;

·         additional measures to assist and promote voluntary compliance;

·         improvements to the complaints process to improve access to justice; and

·      some adjustments to the functions of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The committee is due to report on 18 February 2013, and has invited written submissions to its inquiry by 21 December 2012.

We must ensure that sex workers human rights are included in the above recommendations.  You can contribute actively by making a submission recommending this and why.  The Exposure Draft Bill, explanatory notes and associated materials may be accessed from the committee’s website at www.aph.gov.au/senate_legalcon.

There appears to be widespread discrimination against sex workers in general throughout Australia. Discrimination, that also violates the basic Human Rights of sex workers. Lyon asserts that health outcomes of sex workers are directly affected by stigmatisation and marginalisation and that “It is described as the single biggest issue facing sex workers – even those who operate legally” (Lyon, 2011: 2.3.1, 45).

There has to be a shift away from the pre-existing moralistic viewpoint, to one that supports a public health and human rights approach such as New Zealand and New South Wales. It is apparent that there needs to be more constructive discussion and debate between sex workers, the government, lawmakers and about public opinion in Australia.

In Queensland, it was found that sex workers who were working legally (i.e. service providers in licensed brothels, legal sole traders) had better mental health than those in illegal settings (Seib et al 2009). Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.

Jodine

SIGN THE PETITION HERE.

NSW Call For Submissions on Brothel Regulation

Political Lobbying

I am writing this submission in support of my sex worker colleagues in New South Wales (NSW) who may soon have their human rights undermined and replaced with new laws re-instating registration and legislation.  I am addressing my concerns directly to the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC, via the Better Regulation Office) and to the inter-agency working party being asked to develop options to improve the regulation of brothels in NSW.

As a sex worker and a stakeholder, I do not support the 3 Options being reviewed.  It would appear as if decriminalisation is being replaced by licensing and registration and this does not protect my human rights and flies in the face of United Nations, Human Rights and Evidenced-based Research recommendations.

-Option 1: Improve the current regulatory system, including improving decision-making in planning for sex services premises and improving the sharing of information between NSW regulators. This option might equally be relevant for adoption as part of registration and licensing options.

-Option 2: Introduce a registration system for owners and operators of commercial sex services premises. The register could be maintained by a community-based peer outreach body or by a Government agency.

-Option 3: Introduce a licensing system for owners and operators of commercial sex services premises. The licensing authority, in determining suitability for a licence, would consider: whether the applicant is a fit and proper person; whether it is in the public interest for the licence to be granted; and whether appropriate arrangements have been made to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of sex workers and clients.

The current regulatory system in NSW is a system of Decriminalisation.  This means there are no special laws or criminal offences in relation to sex industry premises.  The registration or licensing options mentioned, are two completely different regulatory systems and in the context of Option 1, do not appear to improve the current regulatory system.

Decriminalisation means that my business is already regulated like other businesses, and subject to existing regulatory mechanisms such as local council planning and zoning regulations, WorkCover and the Australian Taxation Office.   If anything, I would like to see improvements made so that these regulations are applied fairly and sex workers are treated like any other business.  I think that if existing laws are already in place for businesses but are not being applied in the same way as other industries, then this amounts to discrimination.   The main cause of ‘illegal’ or ‘unauthorised’ premises are overly-restrictive council regulations.

I would like to see the Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) include protection for sex workers on the basis of ‘lawful sexual activity’ or at least an acknowledgement that sex work is work and as such cannot be discriminated against as our legal occupation, vocation, calling or ‘trade’.  Councils often regulate on moral grounds and treat sex services premises differently to other businesses with similar amenity impacts. This is unjustified and discriminatory. More than 30% of brothels that have approval had to fight their way through costly Land and Environment cases for it (Donovan, Harcourt, Egger, Fairley, 2010).

I would like to see the appointment of an experienced sex worker liaison officer within the Department of Planning.  They could help Councils to understand the justification and rationale of decriminalisation and apply the principles in good faith. Then perhaps we may begin to see an improvement in the impact of planning on the public health prevention front and on the Occupational Health and Safety of sex workers and their clients.  Perhaps they will discover the reality of amenity issues?

This issue paper states the need for the review is due to concerns about a large number of unapproved (‘illegal’) brothels in NSW and to reduce and/or prevent crime and corruption.   Please don’t forget that decriminalisation was introduced because of corruption by NSW police and by removing police as regulators has successfully addressed corruption (Royal Commission, 1987).  Police are inappropriate regulators of the sex industry and I am glad they’re out!  Decriminalisation means sex workers can access support in the event of a crime.  There does not appear to be a need to reform a system that is already working.  I need Decriminalisation to continue to protect me from all forms of corruption, discrimination and violence.

Sex services premises present minimal amenity impacts to the community. There is no evidence to suggest trafficking is a facet in NSW.  Sex workers travel for work – just like other workers.  What did push sex workers to have to pay for contracts and engage third parties to facilitate travel was being refused visas or being discriminated against by embassies when their sex work status was known (Scarlet Alliance, 2012).

What we do have evidence for is that there are very low numbers of trafficking cases in Australian sex industry (Anti-People Trafficking Inter-departmental Committee (IDC) 2011).  However when sex industry is decriminalised and sex work is recognised as work, we have choices around where and how we work, choices to change workplaces if we want to and to seek support if we need it. Again, there is no evidence of widespread trafficking in the NSW sex industry.

This is no excuse to replace an already established and effective model such as Decriminalisation in NSW.  Any attempt to bastardise the existing model will only serve to pander to the whims of a few who base their decisions on moral grounds rather than fact.  Re-instating registration and legislation will force sex workers back 20 years and into the hands of the criminal underbelly we struggled to get out from under!  Do we really want to go there again?

There is no evidence of a large number of “illegal” brothels in NSW but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that licensing has created a large number of “illegal” brothels in Vic and Qld (Donovan et al, 2010).  Licensing creates a two tiered industry – the minority who can comply and the majority that cannot and are therefore considered “illegal”.  It is in sex workers best interests (and our clients) to be discreet and minimise any impacts on neighbours.  I have been living and working in my apartment for the past 18 months with no issues.  It is mostly the case that people are unaware that sex services premises exist in their suburb.

A recently published study also looked into safe sex compliance among sex workers in NSW and found that safe sex compliance among all sex workers exceeds 99%.  New South Wales is being heralded as taking a positive stand with its current decriminalisation recording these unprecedented new statistics of compliance by sex workers using condoms.  This is directly reducing the rates of sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS amongst sex workers compared to other groups in the community (Donovan Harcourt Egger Fairley, 2010).

I take full responsibility for providing safer sex practices and as a result I have less risk of developing a sexually transmitted disease than the general public!  Sex workers have been in the forefront of the STI best practice for at least the last thirty years and safe sex is the industry standard.  Similarly in New Zealand, sex workers are taking “all reasonable steps to ensure a prophylactic sheath (condom) or other appropriate barrier is used” (Prostitution Reform Act 2003 cited in NZPC website).

In conclusion, Decriminalisation of the sex industry is the only way to move forward on the issue of human trafficking, sex slavery and violent crime against sex workers in Australia.  It is the only accepted course of action that the United Nations advocates globally because it recognises the overall positive impact on human rights, health and safety and addresses issues of harm minimisation in the area of disease prevention, violence and illegal activity (UNAIDS, 2009).

In an article written on her blog, titled ‘Brothel Licensing Not The Answer’, dated November 1st, 2011, Cate Faehrmann, MP for the Green Party, reminds lawmakers not to get caught up in the current frenzy and make knee-jerk decisions that do not take into account that the majority of legal sex workers are not caught up in this illegal activity.  The majority of sex workers perform their work safely and legitimately. Faehrmann cites evidential based research that shows decriminalisation is recognised as the world’s best practice standards for sex workers and their clients.

Faehrmann also talks about how the current licensing scheme regulating brothels in Queensland, namely the Prostitution Licensing Authority (PLA), does not address 90% of the sex industry, which is “…unregulated and illegal” (1).  While it is true that licensing does not address 90% of the industry, we can not be sure what percentage of that is ‘illegal’.  Sole traders in Queensland are also heavily regulated.

The problem in Queensland is that most of the strategies that sex workers use to maintain their safety and sanity like working in co-operatives, having a driver, debriefing with another sex worker in your workplace for example, becomes ‘illegal’ because of bad, poorly processed laws.   But even in a place like NSW where you have decriminalisation, people still revert back to the legal vs illegal dichotomy – so brothel owners who hate the competition argue that brothels that don’t have proper council planning permits are ‘illegal’.

Please focus your attention to improving the inconsistent implementation of existing sex industry guidelines across local government and other areas.  Sex workers have human rights too and it is therefore inappropriate to change or create new laws during a media frenzy!  Sex workers are not criminals either.  Earlier in the year, the Attorney-General, Honourable Nicola Roxon, released a media statement on the 4th of January, 2012, reminding us that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 is now in effect.  Human Rights will be “…bought into sharper focus in Parliament this year with all new laws to be checked to see if they stack up against human rights obligations”.  New laws must consider “… protection and promotion of human rights”.

The principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go, apply to everyone including sex workers.  Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.  I am not ashamed to be a sex worker.  I provide an outstanding service delivery in the face of huge stigma and discrimination.

I am an expert in my field and therefore I am informed about what the actual issues are.  I don’t want to see politically motivated lynch parties at government level take precedence over globally recognised, evidence-based research and best practice.  This would mean corruption at the highest level and symptomatic of a government that is incapable of caring for its people.  Please don’t take away my rights and revert to unsafe legislation and criminalisation.

by Jodine

© Copyright, 2012, escortjodine.com.  All Rights Reserved

References:

A Schloenhardt & Human Trafficking Working Group, Happy Birthday Brothels: Ten Years of Prostitution Regulation in Queensland, (2009).

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2007). The Impact of the Prostitution Law Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers: Report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee. Christchurch: Otago University

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2009). The impact of decriminalisation on the number of sex workers in New Zealand. Journal of Social Policy 38(3) 515-31, 526, 528.

Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) 2011. Trafficking in persons: The Australian Government response 1 July 2010–30 June 2011. Canberra: APTIDC.http://www.ag.gov.au/Peopletrafficking/Documents/Trafficking+in+Persons.pdf

Basil Donovan, C Harcourt, S Egger, C Fairley,  (2010), ‘Improving the Health of Sex Workers in NSW: Maintaining Success’, NSW Public Health Bulletin 21(3-4) 74–7.

Basil Donovan, C Harcourt, S Egger, L Watchirs Smith, K Schneider, JM Kaldor, MY Chen, CK Fairley, S Tabrizi, The Sex Industry in New South Wales: A Report to the NSW Government, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2012,http://www.kirby.unsw.edu.au/sites/hiv.cms.med.unsw.edu.au/files/hiv/attachment/NSWSexIndustryReportV4.pdf. |

Bennachie, C. (2010).  Decriminalising Sex Work in New Zealand – What it means to sex workers.  Paper presented at the International AIDS Conference, Vienna, July 2010.

Christine Harcourt, S Egger, B Donovan (2005), ‘Sex Work and the Law’, Sexual Heath 2(3) 121–8.

Christine Harcourt, J O’Connor, S Egger, C Fairly, H Wand, M Chen, L Marshall, J Kaldor, B Donovan, (2010), ‘The Decriminalisation of Prostitution is Associated with Better Coverage of Health Promotion Programs for Sex Workers’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34:5 at 482.

Davis, S. and Shaffer, M. (1994), Prostitution in Canada: the invisible menace or the menace of invisibility?, Vancouver, Commercial Sex Information Service, http://www.walnet.org/csis/papers/sdavis.html.

Donovan, Harcourt, Egger, Schneider, O’Connor, Marshall, Chen, and Fairley, The Sex Industry in Western Australia: A Report to the Western Australian Government, National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales. Sydney, 2010

Hubbard, P. (2004), ‘Cleansing the metropolis: sex work and the politics of zero tolerance’, Urban Studies, 41: 9, 1687–702

Lyon, W., (2011). Prohibitory Prostitution Laws and the Human Right to Health, Research Dissertation presented for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of LLM in International Human Rights Law (Nottingham Trent University/HETAC), Law School, Griffith college, Dublin. pg 10

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, http://www.nzpc.org.nz/page.php?page_name=Law

O’Connor, C., Berry, G., Rohrsheim, R. and Donovan, B. (1996), ‘Sexual health and use of condoms among local and international sex workers in Sydney’, Genitourinary Medicine, 72: 1, 47–51.

Penny Crofts, ‘Brothels and Disorderly Acts’, Public Space: The Journal of Law and Social Justice (2007) 1:2 at 1-39.

Plumridge, L. and Abel, G. (2001), ‘A “segmented” sex industry in New Zealand: sexual and personal safety of female sex workers’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 25: 1, 78–83.

Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service. (1987). Final Report. Volume 1: Corruption. Commissioner: The Hon Justice JRT Wood, 13. Retrieved from: http://www.pic.nsw.gov.au/files/reports/volume1.pdf

Scambler, G. (1997), ‘Conspicuous and inconspicuous sex work: the neglect of the ordinary and mundane’, in G. Scambler and A. Scambler (eds.), Rethinking Prostitution: Purchasing Sex in the 1990s, London and New York: Routledge.

Scarlet Alliance, Submission on Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012, http://scarletalliance.org.au/library/traffick_sub12/

Sex Services Premises Planning Advisory Panel, Sex Services Premises Planning Guidelines, NSW Department of Planning, 2004,http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/library/ssppg_04.

Susanne Dodillet and Petra Ostergren, ‘The Swedish Sex Purchase Act: Claimed Success and Documented Effects’ Conference paper presented at the International Workshop Decriminalizing Prostitution and Beyond: Practical Experiences and Challenges The Hague, March 3 and 4, 2011,http://www.plri.org/sites/plri.org/files/Impact%20of%20Swedish%20law_0.pdf.\\

THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP, Attorney-General.  ‘Human Rights Check for  New Laws’, MEDIA RELEASE, 4 January 2012, http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media-releases/Pages/2012/First%20Quarter/4-January-2012—Human-Rights-check-for-new-laws.aspx

TVNZ News Online, (2009). Court told how cop bribed prostitute for sex. Downloaded 27th Dec 2011, from http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/court-told-cop-bribed-prostitute-sex-3127025

UNAIDS, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work, Geneva, 2009, http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/unaidspublication/2009/JC2306_UNAIDS-guidance-note-HIV-sex-work_en.pdf.

Weitzer, R. (2005), ‘New directions in research on prostitution’, Crime, Law and Social Change, 43, 211–35.

Attorney-General Backs Hotel Sex Appeal

Offensive Media Articles

Yes folks!  We are witnessing first hand how discrimination is continuing to be perpetrated by political bullying agents at the highest level, as witnessed in Brisbane Times dated August 9th, 2012.  The Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has shown his true colours by publicly attempting to pervert the course  of justice by using his public powers to  “attempt to overturn” the appeal of the landmark Anti-discrimination case between the legal sex worker GK and the owners of the Drover’s Rest Motel in Moranbah.  Make no mistake about it.  We can begin to see the depth of corruption, personal bias and undue influence that is obviously still being exerted by Queensland’s politicians and power player’s.  It didn’t take long for those key players to rear their ugly head.

Sex workers have been dealing with this sort of extortion for years, especially in Queensland.  We only have to go back a couple of decades to see how far corruption can breed in politics with the likes of Sir Joe Bjielke-Petersen!  Here we go again.  Have you noticed the uncanny similarity between the last names of these two political figures?  Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Mr Bleijie.  Perhaps they are related?  It would certainly explain why sex workers are continuing to fight an up-hill battle, just to have their basic human rights upheld.  This political tickling is spreading like a festering disease throughout politics in Queensland despite laws to the contrary to protect and serve.

How can a significant political figure like Mr Bleijie get away with flaunting his bias political power’s publicly like this.  Surely it is common sense not to interfere.  Our Attorney-General is meant to be a respected impartial public figure.  Similarly, so are the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) members.  Unfortunately a few bad apples have tainted this Anti-discrimination case.  Is it any wonder people are afraid to stand up for their rights when a system is is openly flawed like this?  What hope do we as citizens have?  I am embarrassed and ashamed.  How long will it be before Australians can feel truly proud that they have left their distasteful convict history behind?

There has to be a shift away from the pre-existing moralistic viewpoint, to one that supports a public health and human rights approach such as New Zealand’s.  It is apparent that there needs to be more constructive discussion and debate between sex workers, the government, lawmakers and public opinion in Australia.  This is not going to happen when we have sensationalised public Anti-discrimination cases and individual’s being put through the political ringer.  It just makes our justice system look like a Christmas dinner – full of turkey’s and really bad jokes.

The fact remains that the owners of the Drovers Rest Motel did discriminate by breaching the Anti-Discrimination Act by denying GK a room.  What right did they have to ask her to leave when she had been there 17 times during the past 2 years?  What rights do law abiding legal sex workers have, who pay their tax, keep a low profile and go about their daily business, earning a decent living.  We thought we had the Anti-discrimination law on our side that protected our right to practice ‘lawful sexual activity’.  Sex work is work after all.  I find I am holding my breath waiting for the next debacle.

Mr Bleijie says he stands on the side of business owners.  OK, so what about the rest of Australia who don’t happen to own a business?  Actually I have an ABN number and I pay tax, does this mean I am a respected business owner?  Or am I just a sex worker?  I do not think hotel and motel owners should be given more rights than they already have.  Mr Bleijie says he will change the laws to suit.  There are already adequate laws in place that protect against unruly, noisy or abusive guests.  Why didn’t the owners use this already existing defence? They couldn’t because no offence had been committed, and not in the entire 2 years that GK stayed at the motel.   It doesn’t take a genius to see that they want these additional law changes to give them more powers so they can discriminate!

Insinuating that hotel’s are at risk of becoming illegal brothel’s is ludicrous.  There are no similarities what-so-ever between the two.  The differences between a brothel manager and a motel manager are crystal clear.  Do motel owner/manager’s answer my phone, put my adds on, take care of the extra laundry without extra charge, provided security, negotiate bookings or provide my condoms?  They don’t because they are not brothel’s!

Consider that the former Attorney-General, Honourable Nicola Roxon, released a media statement on the 4th of January, 2012, reminding us that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 is now in effect.  Human Rights will be “…bought into sharper focus in Parliament this year with all new laws to be checked to see if they stack up against human rights obligations”.  New laws must consider “… protection and promotion of human rights”.  The principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go, apply to everyone including sex workers.

In Queensland, it was found that sex workers who were working legally (i.e.  service providers in licensed brothels, legal sole traders) had better mental health than those in illegal settings (Seib et al 2009).  Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.  Where are human rights for sex worker’s here in this case?

I am concerned that in this day and age, Australians are being controlled by a very powerful elite who will stop at nothing short of murder, to keep their false sense of control from slipping away.  We need to stand up as a nation and right these wrongs  Nip them in the bud and say enough is enough.  The rest of the world is looking at us and I can feel their  contempt.  I want to feel proud to be an Australian.  I support human rights for all.

By Jodine
© Copyright, 2012, escortjodine.com.  All Rights Reserved

To make a donation to go toward the legal bill for GK, please contact:

Crimson Coalition

St George Bank
BSB 114879
Account 483605476

All donations will be gratefully appreciated.   Jx

FIFO Inquiry Submission 2012

Political Lobbying


I am writing this submission in response to the current Inquiry by the House of Representatives, into the ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (FIFO) workforce practices in regional Australia.

Current sensationalised media articles are wrongly reporting that sex workers who FIFO/DIDO to regional Queensland, are ‘unregulated prostitutes who are contributing to the growth of sexually transmitted diseases’.  This is inaccurate.  Sex work is heavily regulated in almost every state in Australia (except NSW where sex work is decriminalised) and there is no epidemiological evidence that suggests that sex workers contribute to the rise in STI’s in any way, shape or form what-so-ever.  In fact, there is numerous evidence based research that suggests the opposite.

Sex workers have been in the forefront of the STI best practice for at least the last thirty years and safe sex is the industry standard.  Sex workers are taking “all reasonable steps to ensure a prophylactic sheath (condom) or other appropriate barrier is used” (Prostitution Reform Act 2003 cited in NZPC website).  A recently published study also looked into safe sex compliance among sex workers in New South Wales (NSW), and found that safe sex compliance among all sex workers exceeds 99% (Donovan Harcourt Egger Fairley, 2010).  Sex workers do not need laws to compel them to use condoms and it is insulting that such a law was deemed necessary in 2003 in Australia, given that history and research clearly indicated it was not required (Donovan et al 2010: 74).

Associate Professor John Scott of the University of New England told Australian Mining that there was no evidence to suggest that a rise in sex workers translates into a rise in sexually transmitted diseases.  Media articles like ‘Freelance Sex Workers Factor in Explosion of Infections’ are unsubstantiated and defamatory and arguably subject to class action law suits by multiple complainants.  There are also no studies that suggest that rural sex work has increased at all.  In fact, New Zealand and NSW are reporting a decline in the numbers of street based sex workers since decriminalisation (Mossman, & Mayhew, 2007).

There has also been no sudden increase in the numbers of visible sex workers on the streets generally, as claimed would happen post decriminalisation by opposition groups against the New Zealand Prostitution Law Reform Act 2003 (PLA), dispelled by Abel, Fitzgerald and Brunton (2009:526. 528).  Quite the contrary.  Only 10% of the entire sex worker industry are street based sex workers (Hubbard, 2004; Scrambler, 1997; Weitzer, 2005).  Since their numbers on the street are reported to be declining, it is more accurate to state that New Zealand and NSW are achieving desirable outcomes because the legislation is consistent and supportive and recognises that people make better choices for themselves when they feel more empowered to do so, under decriminalisation.

Consider that street based sex workers only account for about 7-10% of the entire estimated sex worker population (Hubbard, 2004; Scrambler, 1997; Weitzer, 2005).  This number easily escalates when we have groups of renegade landlords, real estate agents and hoteliers throwing sex workers from their accommodation and out onto the streets, where they invariably think they belong.  Often these legal sole traders have paid for their accommodation in advance, are refused a refund and are also refused other accommodation in the area, as word spreads to other providers who also discriminate.

Similarly, we see real estate agents accusing their tenants of running ‘escort agencies’ from their leased premises, despite sole trading and practising lawful sex work, who are then issued with a ‘Notice of Breach’ of Body Corporate By-laws and then have their lease cancelled without a reference.   Forcing sex workers onto the the street by making it difficult to secure accommodation, increases the risk of violence being perpetrated against them in the exact same way it does forcing sex workers to relocate to less visible area’s on the street.  It forces sex workers into vulnerable and dangerous situations and into the arms of Australia’s criminal underbelly (Hubbard, 2004).

Laws need to be made in Australia that are consistent and in line with globally recognised Human Rights best practice.  It is no good to say that legal sex workers are able to practice ‘lawful sexual activity’ from their accommodation by the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland (ADCQ) and then have the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) find any weak excuse to undermine this, such as what happened in the recent QCAT decision against the legal sex worker GK, about to be appealed.  Blatant inconsistencies like this, highlight just how difficult it is for sex workers (and the community) to work within these heavily regulated and meaningless laws.  It should be unlawful and illegal for a sex worker to be evicted from anywhere just because they are a sex worker.

Decriminalisation of the sex industry is the only accepted course of action that the United Nations advocates globally, because it recognises the overall positive impact on human rights, health and safety and addresses issues of harm minimisation in the area of disease prevention, violence and illegal activity.  I agree with Faehrmann in her article, Brothel Licensing Not The Answer, who says “…the government should be looking at ways to address the sometimes arbitrary and inconsistent implementation of existing sex industry guidelines across local government, rather than making criminals out of currently law abiding citizens.”

The New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PRA) is achieving such success in its positive health outcomes because it was designed in consultation with the public, sex workers and sex worker organisations during a three year parliamentary debate.  It reflects the nature and scope of sex work.  It balances the need’s of the community with the human Rights of sex workers.  The Act is designed to (a) safeguard the human rights of sex workers and protect them from exploitation; (b) promote the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers: (c) be conducive to public health: (d) prohibit the use in prostitution of persons under 18 years of age; and (e) implement certain other related reforms (cited in NZPC:Law).

Proven harm-minimisation models are being applied by sex worker organisations and healthcare providers throughout Australia and New Zealand (and the rest of the world) with a great deal of success, all-be-it limited under current legislation in heavily regulated/criminalised states in Australia.  These same service providers are funded by Government.  The overall objective is to reduce the impact of the harm caused to self or other by educating those directly affected in order to raise their awareness of the alternatives that may (or may not) be available to them.  Harm-minimisation stems from the belief that people are at various stages of development and as such need to be approached and met at their level of awareness, while being given the tools, support and resources to facilitate a process whereby individuals feel empowered to make better choices for themselves and ultimately the community.

There seems to be an entirely false set of mores circulating within Australia that attempts to wrongly link sex workers with violence, drug addiction and paedophilia.  Rape is violence and is perpetrated throughout society against women (and men) in every area of society.  Only 7% to 17% of brothel and escort sex workers in Australia report ever injecting drugs (Harcourt et al., 2001; Perkins & Lovejoy, 2007; Pyett et al., 1996)The WA report shows a table 3.27 that suggests that drug use in Perth brothels is around the same as rates in the general population (with the exception of much higher rates of tobacco use).

Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence to link sex workers and paedophilia.  Paedophiles do not discriminate between boys and girls and are more often than not, someone we know, who is trusted and has complete access to our children.  They do not walk around with a sign around their neck nor do they belong to any one sub-section of society.  Sex workers are not a homogeneous group and therefore there are no more issues that are more important to certain sectors of society than others (O’Connor et al., 1996: Plumridge and Abel, 2001).

In conclusion, there appears to be widespread discrimination against sex workers in general throughout regional Australia.  Discrimination, that also violates the basic Human Rights of sex workers.  Lyon asserts that health outcomes of sex workers are directly affected by stigmatisation and marginalisation and that “It is described as the single biggest issue facing sex workers – even those who operate legally” (Lyon, 2011: 2.3.1, 45).

This is currently being reflected in the stories media are publishing that appear more like a frenzied attacks between FIFO/DIDO sex workers trying to practice lawful sex work and citizens behaving unlawfully as if they are justified, despite laws to the contrary.   Media are fuelling this unhelpful debate by not reporting accurately and relying on misinformed comments from an uneducated public, with the sole purpose of selling newspapers.  They are pandering to assumed popular belief and taking no responsibility for their professional code of ethics.

There is also a misrepresentation of the nature and scope of sex work and sex workers both collectively and individually.  The media appear to only be reporting one side of the story, completely ignoring the facts.  There appears to be a push to make new laws in an attempt to over-ride existing ones that are flawed, replacing them with even more Draconian versions designed to control rather than empower.  Over-regulation, as opposed to decriminalisation, makes illegal operations more attractive because the legal sector is often kept smaller than the number of sex workers available to work (Lyon, 2011:10).

There has to be a shift away from the pre-existing moralistic viewpoint, to one that supports a public health and human rights approach such as New Zealand’s.  It is apparent that there needs to be more constructive discussion and debate between sex workers, the government, lawmakers and public opinion in Australia.

I would like to remind the House of Representatives, that the Attorney-General, Honourable Nicola Roxon, released a media statement on the 4th of January, 2012, reminding us that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 is now in effect.  Human Rights will be “…bought into sharper focus in Parliament this year with all new laws to be checked to see if they stack up against human rights obligations”.  New laws must consider “… protection and promotion of human rights”.

The principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go, apply to everyone including sex workers.  In Queensland, it was found that sex workers who were working legally (i.e.  service providers in licensed brothels, legal sole traders) had better mental health than those in illegal settings (Seib et al 2009).  Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.  Jx

Please view this and other Submissions for the Inquiry at: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ra/fifodido/report.htm.

REFERENCES:

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L. and Brunton, C. (2007), ‘The impact of the Prostitution Reform Act on the health and safety practices of sex workers’, Report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee, University of Otago, Christchurch.

THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP, Attorney-General.  ‘Human Rights Check for  New Laws’, MEDIA RELEASE, 4 January 2012, http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media-releases/Pages/2012/First%20Quarter/4-January-2012—Human-Rights-check-for-new-laws.aspx

The WA Report, 2007, ‘The Sex Industry in Western Australia Basil Donovan, Christine Harcourt, Sandra Egger, Karen Schneider, Jody O’Connor.

Hubbard, P. (2004), ‘Cleansing the metropolis: sex work and the politics of zero tolerance’, Urban Studies, 41: 9, 1687–702

Lyon, W., (2011). Prohibitory Prostitution Laws and the Human Right to Health, Research Dissertation presented for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of LLM in International Human Rights Law (Nottingham Trent University/HETAC), Law School, Griffith college, Dublin. pg 10

Mossman, E., & Mayhew, P., (2007). Key Informant Interviews: Review of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, Pg 10

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, http://www.nzpc.org.nz/page.php?page_name=Law

Perkins,R.andLovejoy, F. (2007), CallGirls:Private SexWorkers in Australia, Crawley:University of Western Australia Press.


Legal Sex Working in New Zealand – Since Decriminalisation

About Sex Work

I began sex working in New Zealand in May of 2006.  I didn’t really know a lot about the sex industry up until this point, other than what I had seen and heard by non-sex workers and the media.  Needless to say, my knowledge was extremely limited and the thought of entering into an industry with negative popular belief and stigma was more than a little intimidating.  I was aware, however, of the passing of the New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PRA) and the subsequent decriminalisation of the sex industry.

The Act was designed to (a) safeguard the human rights of sex workers and protect them from exploitation; (b) promote the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers: (c) be conducive to public health: (d) prohibit the use in prostitution of persons under 18 years of age; and (e) implements certain other related reforms. This meant that I was no longer going to be viewed as a criminal at least.  I felt empowered to seek out the knowledge I required in order to establish myself as a private independent legal sex worker.

I initially approached a couple of friends I knew in the swinging scene.  Sharon and Rod from Club Sparty, were instrumental in steering me in the right direction.  I met with a known legal sex worker called Sally Munro at her apartment and we discussed the best course of action for me to enter into the sex industry and learn how to practice safely.  Together, we developed a website from which to launch my new career.  I settled on the name Rhiannan and subsequently my first website was created.

I am forever grateful for Sally’s help and support to me during this time.  The PRA had made it possible through decriminalisation, for me to seek out the knowledge I required from my peers and other sources, which enabled me to feel empowered to make an informed decision.  A strategy that my peers throughout Australia (excluding New south Wales where it is decriminalised) are not allowed to seek or provide for each other under the current criminalisation/prohibition model in Victoria and heavy legislation/regulation models in Queensland and other states.

I was given the opportunity to enter into the worlds oldest profession in a way my predecessors were unable to do.  For this reason, I have the utmost respect for sex workers who worked  in extremely adverse conditions where the risks of being exploited or charged as a criminal, were very real.  These sex workers paved the way for me and all new sex workers in New Zealand by refusing to be silenced on issues relating to health, occupational health and safety, violence, human rights and discrimination.  Their voices are continuing to be heard throughout Australia, by past and existing sex workers and their friends, family and clients, who realise that decriminalisation works and that this needs to be a national policy.  

Here in Queensland, I join voices like RESPECT Inc and Scarlet Alliance in the fight for decriminalisation and improved sex worker rights on every level of humanity in Australia.  The advantages far out-weigh the risks if only the media, lawmakers and other commentators would read and understand the evidence.  In New Zealand I know my basic human rights are being respected by law and I have choices about what I could do if my health and safety were compromised.  I am less likely to have violence perpetrated against me by corrupt police officers for example, because the penalty’s are a clear deterrent.

Consider the plight of former Constable Nathan Thorose Connolly who was sentenced to two years in December 2009, for threatening a sex worker to have free sex with him.  A clear warning to other’s that violence toward sex workers is no longer tolerated and a clear reason why decriminalisation will reduce all forms of violence against sex workers in general.  The PRA is directly responsible for the increase in the reporting of violence to Police, especially by street workers (Mossman and Mayhew, 2007:10) and this is because they can, not because violent crime toward them has increased.

Since decriminalisation in New Zealand, the numbers of sex workers on the streets has declined in the first five years since decriminalisation, according to the Prostitution Law Reform Committee in their five year report on the sex industry since decriminalisation.  There was no sudden increase in the numbers of visible sex workers on the streets as claimed would happen by opposition groups (Abel, Fitzgerald and Brunton, 2009:526. 528).  Quite the contrary. Consider that only 10% of the entire sex worker industry are street workers (Hubbard, 2004; Scrambler, 1997;  Weitzer, 2005).  Since their numbers on the street are reported to be declining, according to evidence based research, then wouldn’t it be correct to state that New Zealand is achieving this by creating an environment that empowers sex workers to improve their lives?  There is a correlating increase in sex workers moving from managed to private sector sex work.

Decriminalisation in New Zealand means that I am automatically protected from all sorts of  injustices and inequalities.  My rights are equal to every ones else’s and my sex work is recognised on every level… including in the area of accommodation.  I have to pay my taxes like everyone else.  I have access to Work Place Cover in the form of accident compensation from the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) for any loss of income due to injury in the workplace.  My Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) standards are peer reviewed and set to reflect the needs of both individual and collective sex workers according to their environments; like my peers who choose to work in brothels.  I am allowed to procure insurances that protect my income and health so that I can continue to work and contribute to society.  These are luxuries that I will never take for granted in New Zealand.

However, not everything comes up smelling like roses.   Stigma is still a major factor in my life as a legal sex worker no matter where I work.  Lyon asserts that health outcomes of sex workers are directly affected by stigmatisation and marginalisation and that “It is described as the single biggest issue facing sex workers – even those who operate legally” (Lyon, 2011: 2.3.1, 45).  I have to carefully weigh up the implications of coming out to friends, family and the general public.  On a good day, I feel strong enough to withstand any slight on my person and can trust myself to respond in kind.  On a challenging day, I feel exposed and vulnerable and less articulate in defending myself.  Sometimes I feel like withdrawing inside my apartment and not engaging with the world.  Sometimes I crave the freedom to share some black humour with my peers and at other times , I just want to be liked for who I am – not defined by what I do.

Decriminalisation in New Zealand states in legislation that I have the freedom to contact other sex workers and organisations for peer support, debriefing, resources, referrals (to and of clients),  and to work together and share accommodation and costs.  Working together directly reduces the likelihood of violent crime continuing to be perpetrated against us.  We are also able to work together and share the income from clients who request a ‘double’ booking for example.  In Queensland, I am not allowed to minimise the sense of isolation and anxiety I feel at times, by not being allowed to have a ‘meeting of the minds’ with other sole traders.

By persistently addressing the issues, using evidence based global research to back up their argument, New Zealand become the first country in the world to completely decriminalise the sex industry as we know it.  I am extremely proud of Helen Clarke, the first elected female Prime Minister in New Zealand representing Labour, who fully supported the Act in all its parts.  I am also extremely passionate about writing for and about the sex industry because their collective voices continue to resonate in every core of my being.  There is still so much to be done to bring awareness to other parts of the world.

In conclusion, my experience of sex working in New Zealand  is far more preferable, if not for the weather!  Where sex work is decriminalised, my life, health and working conditions are much improved in general.  Over-regulation, as opposed to decriminalisation, makes illegal operations more attractive because the legal sector is kept smaller than the number of sex workers available to work (Lyon, 2011:10).  It’s not rocket science.   There has to be a shift away from the pre-existing moralistic viewpoint, to one that supports a public health and human rights approach such as New Zealand’s.

Since 2006, I have developed into a successful private independent legal sex worker where I continue to provide a safe and discreet service to my clients, with minimal (if any) disruption or negative impact on my neighbours.  I live where I work and I ensure my clients have a discreet, anonymous entry into my world from the outset.  I live in an upmarket multi-storey apartment with an intercom which allows me to screen my clients and give them direct access to the lifts and to my floor only.  My neighbours are none-the-wiser and therefore not affected by my work.  I am also courteous and friendly to everyone I meet who lives in the building.  I treat people how I wish to be treated myself – with respect.

I have also entered and exited the sex industry at various times since 2006.  It is my choice to do so.  I do not need rescuing or saving by some organisation that gets a kick out of interfering in my life.  I am an autonomous, independent, educated person who chooses to work in the sex industry for all the benefits I experience.  Security, friendship, independence, money, sex, camaraderie and freedom.  Decriminalisation is the only way to go to improve health outcomes across the board, for everyone.  Jx

© Copyright, 2011, escortjodine.com.  All Rights Reserved

References

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2007). The Impact of the Prostitution Law Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers: Report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee. Christchurch: Otago University

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2009). The impact of decriminalisation on the number of sex workers in New Zealand. Journal of Social Policy 38(3) 515-31, 526, 528.

Bennachie, C. (2010).  Decriminalising Sex Work in New Zealand – What it means to sex workers.  Paper presented at the International AIDS Conference, Vienna, July 2010.

Jordan, J. (2005), The Sex Industry in New Zealand: A Literature Review, Wellington: Ministry of Justice.Davis, S. and Shaffer, M. (1994), Prostitution in Canada: the invisible menace or the menace of invisibility?, Vancouver, Commercial Sex Information Service, http://www.walnet.org/csis/papers/sdavis.html.

Hubbard, P. (2004), ‘Cleansing the metropolis: sex work and the politics of zero tolerance’, Urban Studies, 41: 9, 1687–702

Lyon, W., (2011). Prohibitory Prostitution Laws and the Human Right to Health, Research Dissertation presented for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of LLM in International Human Rights Law (Nottingham Trent University/HETAC), Law School, Griffith college, Dublin. pg 10

Mossman, E., & Mayhew, P., (2007). Key Informant Interviews: Review of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, Pg 10

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective,  http://www.nzpc.org.nz/page.php?page_name=Law

O’Connor, C., Berry, G., Rohrsheim, R. and Donovan, B. (1996), ‘Sexual health and use of condoms among local and international sex workers in Sydney’, Genitourinary Medicine, 72: 1, 47–51.

Otago Daily Times, (2010). Ex-cop loses appeal over sex with prostitute. Downloaded 27th Dec 2011, from http://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/101886/ex-cop-loses-appeal-over-sex-with-prostitute Regina v Connolly, Christchurch District Court [17 Dec 2009].

Plumridge, L. and Abel, G. (2000b), ‘Safer sex in the Christchurch sex industry: Study 2 ? survey of Christchurch sexworkers’, Christchurch School ofMedicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch.

Plumridge, L. and Abel, G. (2001), ‘A “segmented” sex industry in New Zealand: sexual and personal safety of female sex workers’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 25: 1, 78–83.

Scambler, G. (1997), ‘Conspicuous and inconspicuous sex work: the neglect of the ordinary and mundane’, in G. Scambler and A. Scambler (eds.), Rethinking Prostitution: Purchasing Sex in the 1990s, London and New York: Routledge.

TVNZ News Online, (2009). Court told how cop bribed prostitute for sex. Downloaded 27th Dec 2011, from http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/court-told-cop-bribed-prostitute-sex-3127025

Weitzer, R. (2005), ‘New directions in research on prostitution’, Crime, Law and Social Change, 43, 211–35.