I am referring to a recent article in the Sunday Mail (Qld), titled “Coal Girls’ Hit Paydirt at Queensland’s Booming Mining Towns”, dated 6th November, 2011, by Kathleen Donaghey, Daryl Passmore and Jackie Sinnerton.
I take great offence from the undertone of this article and the supposed research being composed by Kerry Carrington. I am a successful private independent sex worker and I, like the majority of sex workers, use condoms with all of my clients and conduct STI checks with every client (male and female). I also have regular health checks for my own peace of mind even though it is not required of an independent sex worker in Queensland.
It is not the sex workers who are spreading disease, as articles like this insinuate. The truth is that sex workers have led the way in STI prevention because we are self-regulating, our bodies are our business and it is part of sex work culture to use condoms. We are not the reason there is an increase in STI’s in the mining towns or anywhere for that matter. The increase is largely due to our young people between the ages of 15-24, who are choosing to have un-protected sex as par for the course. There is little or no evidence that suggests that sex workers contribute to this debate either directly or indirectly.
I am more concerned with poorly researched, speculative media articles like this that paint a false, disgusting, negative image of sex workers as less than human, unclean and ignorant. The language these journalists have used is highly emotive and bias. Words like prostitute, hookers, privateers and unregulated all paint a slanderous picture of sex workers generally with no regard of the socio-political implications. Suggesting that our industry is unregulated and contributing to rising statistics in STI’s is blatant misrepresentation by researcher Kerry Carrington. Ignorance breeds ignorance in this case. Her research is already tainted and will hold no credibility. Articles like this, directly contribute to the stigma sex workers deal with on a regular basis from the general public.
Since the passing of New Zealand’s Prostitution Reform Act 2003, Kiwi sex workers and their consenting clients, have enjoyed decriminalisation of the sex industry with all the perks and priviledges that go along with it. Sex workers have the same benefits as any other sole trader or business owner. By normalising the sex industry in this way, the profession is now safer, healthier and happier for everyone concerned. By imposing differing and contradictory bogus rules and regulations from state to state, as Australia seems hell bent of doing, does little to improve the overall health, work and safety issues that are present in our industry.
If Australians agreed to decriminalise sex work and have one national policy, then people (clients, workers and the public) would know where each other stands and take responsibility for playing their own parts. The Police would be available to engage with sex workers and focus on investigations and complaints more openly where violent crime against women occurs (sex worker or not). I’m sure sex workers would feel a lot more positive about providing information to police if we knew we were not going to be victimised or charged.
The government would be able to focus on sexual health issues like the ones raised here by continuing to adequately fund sexual health services, youth and other community organisations like RESPECT Inc, who support new and existing sex workers by providing education and distribution of condoms, so they can continue to practice their work safely. I would like to see my hard earned tax dollars being invested positively in this way!
I digress, but my point has been made. Haven’t you, the media, got more pressing issues to worry about other than poking your nose into an industry that you obviously know nothing about and who are not prepared to research appropriately? Furthermore, what are you actually trying to say by referencing how much money sex workers may or may not make? Many people earn good money working (sex work, mining or other). Who cares?
A CEO can potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, in order to reflect the nature of their job and the social and political pressures that go along with it. Is sex work any less different? Look at the personal, social, political and public pressures sex workers have to deal with on a daily basis, so aptly demonstrated by The Sunday Mail in the article in question. Sex workers earn and deserve every cent they make and we are appreciated by our clients, despite the presence of whorephobic journalists. I will continue to have my say on matters that affect and concern me, my colleagues, clients, friends and family.
It saddens me that there are people in journalism who have no regard for their profession and who clearly skipped the series of lectures on professional ethics, social justice and implications of getting it wrong. It would have been more useful to raise the issues of the increase in reported STI’s by listing current research, evidence and statistics followed by some youth friendly tips, in an attempt to raise the awareness for young people about STI’s and condoms. Now that would have made a positive statement. As it stands, this article is embarrassing, offensive and degrading to sex workers and their clients.
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