Sex Work & Disability in Australia

Health

Rachel Wotton from Touching Base and John, star in Scarlet Road, a documentary about Sex Work and Disability

Sex, is a basic human desire that we all want to experience in our lives and this includes those of us living with disability. I am a sex worker here in Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia and I work with those living with a wide range of disabilities, as well as my own. Today, I am grateful I am only contending with frozen shoulders and progressive nerve pain which, in the grand scheme of things could be a lot worse.

I am mindful of my pain when I’m working with clients. Obviously I don’t do anything that is going to exacerbate my pain. On the whole, it doesn’t really affect the quality of my performance as a sex worker, but rather enhances my compassion and ability to adapt to working in different ways in order to achieve the same results. Most of us have experienced at least some sort of pain and disability at different times in our lives. It does not mean we are any less desiring or capable of performing or having sexual pleasure and release. Quite the contrary. Those feel-good feelings of pleasure offer a much needed reprieve from pain, even for just a moment. Relief doesn’t necessarily mean having a physical ejaculation either. The mind is a most wonderful place to visit. Most of the people I see have no idea I live with pain and for those who do, we share a common understanding that only deepens our experience. I am not alone.

At the moment, New South Wales is the only state or territory that has a decriminalised framework but it is not completely decriminalised. Decriminalisation is being fought for in Queensland right now. Respect Inc, Queensland’s sex worker organisation, is challenging the Qld Government to replace existing sex work legislation with complete decriminalisation. Queensland can learn from New Zealand and New South Wales’ history of decriminalisation, and improve on the legislation in those places. Northern Territory and South Australia governments are also considering decriminalisation of sex work. This will mean more opportunities for clients with disability to have access to sex work providers.

In 2016, I did a sex work disability workshop with Rachel Wotton who delivered the Touching Base, Professional Disability Awareness Training (PDAT) at Respect Inc’s office here in Cairns. It was invaluable training and I recommend you check out their website and watch the Scarlet Road documentary featuring Rachel Wotton, a co-founder of Touching Base. Scarlet Road offers an opportunity to take a sneak peek inside the sex industry and see how sex workers work with clients with disability. Resources are available for sex workers, clients, their families, educators and caregivers working for and in the Aged Care and Disability Services. Yes of course! Our elderly have sexual desires too and also experience difficulties. It is imperative that we champion decriminalisation of the sex industry and raise public and professional awareness of the issues surrounding access to and provision of sex industry services for people living with disability.

For myself personally, living and working with pain in the sex industry has meant that I have had to expand my awareness of myself and others, in the context of self care and in providing sex work services to my clients with disability. In this regard, the main learning curve has been in communication. Learning to ask the right questions, listening to the needs of specific clients and adapting my services to suit. Not everybody wants or needs the active, energetic, stereotypical role sex workers may be perceived to provide. An intellectual, sensual, visual sexual escapade can ignite all of the senses equally and this can only mean a delightfully erotic time for all to enjoy, comfortably. I am mindful of my authenticity when I sex work. My presence and state of mind is vital in working with any client, disabled, elderly or not. Matching my specific services to a client’s desires and abilities is also imperative. Many people with disability are quite capable of enjoying sexual intercourse. Relationships are built on trust and reciprocity and for me to work well, I need to be able to relate to myself and others in a holistic way.

In closing, having sex is a fundamental human right and one that does not discriminate between able bodied, disabled or aged clients with clients of all abilities or ages. We all have the right to seek out and have sexual relations with consenting adults including sex workers especially when our physical, mental or intellectual circumstances may make this difficult to obtain in other social ways such as dating or meeting in work situations. Decriminalisation of the sex industry is the only way forward for all of us. In the modern world where sex sells everything from a toothbrush to a bar of soap, the only real barriers to a sexually fulfilling life, are other people’s ignorance that sexuality has a shelf life. This is far from the truth. Don’t be one of those critics who views sex as a means to an end for procreation. That would be a travesty of sexual justice.

At the end of the day, it isn’t that hard to imagine what life might be like for us when old age creeps up or we find ourselves disabled. We live in an aging population and the chances are, we may be old and horny, bent and broken and seriously sexually frustrated, unless we take steps to actively assert our sexual rights. Some clients may simply want to just get off, while others might want general affections and touch. Many others may grow older and not want to be sexual at all any more. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world that see’s sex and sexuality as a virtue and not something only available to the young or able-bodied. When decriminalisation comes in, in Queensland we will all be one step closer to creating this reality. In the meantime, do whatever it takes to have your sexual needs met. There are plenty of us sex workers out there who are more than willing to offer our services in a friendly, respectful way. Get online and see who is out there, and never look back! Jx

 

© Copyright 2019, Jezabel, escortjezabel.com. All Rights Reserved

 

Coalition of disability groups demand action on NDIS funding for sex services

 

Scarlet Road Trailer

 

REFERENCES:

https://www.touchingbase.org/

https://respectqld.org.au/

http://www.scarletroad.com.au/trailer/

https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/all/medicinal-cannabis/access

 

Respect Inc Queensland

 

 

Whore

Poetry

 

Clock app, I chime well.

The sheets are slithery crevices

Satin-lined, with serpent tongue poised to strike,

It is a meeting of the soul,

 

A shaft of light

Through cathedrals of stained glass.

Where you are safe,

There are no family heirlooms,

 

No dinner on the table, no lies.

Suave virile hips, the smirk of men

Glaze at her smoke

And I, in my honeyed plume,

 

Milk a gallon of amphibian seed.

To release

The roar of angst I swallow toads ~

Meat and three vege, a staple,

 

The ‘Elixir of Life’.

My mouth gags,

The mouth of Mary

When my accelerator touches the pan.

 

The giggle of my

Plastic features, my way of arching

John’s to rigors of trapeze

Lays on the charm, a gasp.

 

And it goes on and on, and on.

I shall remain a nymph. Old muscles

Strain like a bough and I

Blush like Betty Boop

 

Satisfied,

All the sighs of winter, fall

Offering up last seasons rosella

Tea to read.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Jezabel Jodine. ‘escortjezabel.com’. All Rights Reserved

Visable Woman

Poetry

Escorts Jezabel

 

I’m a whore.
A hooker for all
Intents & purposes

I fuck

Men, women or both
If they show me
Respect & pay my fee

How they treat
Me is how I screen;
They peep through key
Holes in my web,
Mobile phone or face
Book

Leave me clues
I peruse at my leisure.

On my unpaid time,
Weeding
Always pulling
Out roots & bare
Back, barking mad
Messages

Cutting into my family!

My family time
Intrigues you & yours –

Watching how we
Balance on that edge,
While I swing my leg
Over, hold on
Tight & tiptoe
Around the giant
Dildo in the room

But we do

Those Bill’s
Just don’t stop coming!

*

I work hard for the money
I work hard for family
I work hard
Pulling my weight where it counts
To make ends meet;
Reconciling differences
Underneath

I bleed red & my shit still
Stinks but that doesn’t make me
Invisible, unless you’re
Anti

Anti this, anti that
Why should it matter
What I do to support my
Self or my family?

I should ram my fist right up
Your arse, to my elbows
(I’d like to – bend you over) &
Piss all over your pride & prejudice!

Your mind is already made up.
Stuck up, to the eyeballs
In condescending lies pandering
To (un) popular beliefs;
Nothing like countering ‘prostitution
Narratives’ in the belly
Of the beast

I am a very tall poppy.
I am not so uneloquently on display
I am not a victim
I am not coerced
I am not a survivor
I am not damaged
I am not suffering any
More than anyone else

I don’t buy into
Negative, stereotypically ignorant
Profit driven victimisation
Either!

I choose to be the
Architect of my own life
Doing my bit,
Arousing your awareness
So that those who are
Tarred with the same brush
Can find support
Not rescue

It’s called autonomy.
Something I have more of than
Some, but you are not one

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up
Turn on my phone
Answer messages
Boil the jug & light up a dart,
Considering all my options
Before heading back in to sex work

It makes me stark raving
Mad, to think you could
Possibly be offended!

*

For what it’s worth,
I feel sorry for you

© Copyright 2016, Jezabel Jodine. ‘escortjezabel.com. All Rights Reserved

 

Written in protest of the ‘World’s Oldest Oppression’ Conference in Melbourne, Victoria 2016

The Online Protest

Pieces of Meat

Sound of Silencing Sex Workers

Online Pocket Guide to Dealing with Antis

Sex Work & Violence

About Sex Work, Sex Work & Violence

pink1

On Sunday night, the 17th of February 2013, I got a distressed call from a young sex worker in Cairns.  For the purpose of this Blog her name shall be Gemma.

Gemma had taken an enquiry from a man calling himself Will.  He seemed warm, polite and friendly.  They agreed on a price, time and place for a 1 hour outcall at an upmarket hotel in Cairns along the Esplanade.  She took her time getting ready, making the effort to look and feel her best.  She chose light make-up, a lovely but casual dress and 3 inch heels.  Her supplies of condoms and lube were tucked away in an evening bag.  She headed out the door…

Gemma arrived on time and made her way up to the third floor.  A well dressed man in his late 20’s, early 30’s opened the door, smiled and let her in.  She looked around the room and noticed empty beer bottles and pizza boxes.  She made the comment “Oh is this your bachelor pad?” laughing and gesturing toward the mess in a friendly manner to break the ice.  He laughed and said “something like that”.  Then another male of around the same age came out of a side room.  Then another and another and another.  Five in total were in the room and making smiles and lewd gestures toward her.

Gemma asked to speak with Will, looking at the guy who opened the door for her.  He replied that Will wasn’t there, that they had borrowed his phone and that they wanted to ‘party’ with her.  Right about now she realised she was in her worst nightmare.  She stated firmly and calmly that she had made an hour booking with Will and that there was no mention of anyone else being involved.  They offered her more money and encouraged her to sit down.  Gemma declined.  One of them pushed a chair in behind her knee’s to force her to sit down but she remained standing.  They had been drinking.

By this time Gemma is trying to reposition herself away from the men crowding around her, to move closer to the door.  As she was trying to extricate herself, repeatedly stating that she was not going ahead with the booking, one of the five stated “Prostitution is illegal in Australia and you have to fuck us!”.  Another started yelling at her “get in the fucking bedroom!”.  She managed to manoeuvre herself in to the kitchen before making a dash for the exit, deliberately knocking everything she could off the kitchen bench onto the floor.  She made it out of the door and down to reception. shaken and in shock.  She phoned her boyfriend who came over immediately to pick her up outside the hotel.  He told reception what Gemma had told him.

Gemma is a 24 year old woman.  She lives alone with her pet dog and Goldfish.  She has a boyfriend whom works away for a couple of weeks at a time and who is supportive of her choice of work in the interim.  They both have goals and aspirations for their future together.

Like a lot of sex workers, Gemma entered into the sex industry to ease social and economic pressures.  A cash income meant she could begin to create an independent life for herself and pool her resources into savings, learning and up-skilling, ultimately to improve her chances of competing in a modern society.  A global financial crisis resulting in fewer job opportunities, and tighter budget constraints combined with poor leadership and cowardly politicians like Queensland’s Attorney-General, Honourable? Jarrad Bleijie and Mr Premier Campbell-Newman pissing all over human rights, targeting our most vulnerable in society, leaves little hope for our young people to see any kind of future.

This scenario could have been much worse.  Gemma was a very lucky young woman to have escaped from those lowlife scum who dared to call themselves men.  Could her risk be lowered?  You bet; yet under current Queensland law it is still illegal for two sex workers to work together to provide back up to each other and this immediately increases the risk of further abuses being perpetrated against us.  Who is more aware of our particular safety needs than another sex worker?  In my mind, current regulation is actually perpetrating gross negligence and causing undue harm which violates our basic human rights.

Queensland law does actually allow sex workers to hire a fully qualified bodyguard slash driver whenever we feel there is a need.  But lets face it, could Gemma have foreseen what was planned for her that night?  The answer is NO.  However, when isn’t there a potential risk for sex workers when we have a government that doesn’t support their basic human rights in general and a public who knows this and an element of depravity in some people who will continue to be violent by nature?  In Gemma’s case it is unrealistic to expect her to hire a bodyguard slash driver to serve as a chaperone on every single job, she accepts.  The cost alone puts this service way out of reach for most sex workers.  Where is this fictitious pool of bodyguard slash drivers on standby 24/7?

What about the Police? Gemma chose not to report this incident. That is her right.  When I asked her what made her think twice, she said she rang them anonymously and they couldn’t do anything unless she made a statement.  She didn’t want to make a statement.  She wanted the Police to go around and scare them to make them at least think twice about doing it again to another unsuspecting sex worker. This was not to be.  She could not see that making a statement to Police would enable them to visit the men and force them to at least tell their side of the story.  The only thing she could see, was that nothing would happen to them and she would become a known sex worker to Police.  This made her feel uncomfortable.  Sad isn’t it.

I referred Gemma to her local sex worker organisation for support immediately after the incident.  Respect Inc have drop in and outreach centres on the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Townsville (Head Office) and Cairns.  She was able to debrief over the phone with a peer in Cairns, was given information about her rights and the opportunity to have the respect Peer Educator with her if she chose to make a statement with Police.  What an invaluable service! Severely under resourced and very lucky to have escaped the heinous community funding cuts that surged though Queensland last year like a fiscal enema.

What happened to Gemma could happen to any one of us at any time.  It has happened to a lot of us.  Is this a deterrent?  No it is not.  We cling to what little support we have within society and lean on each other and pick up the pieces and move on with our lives – and continue to sex work.  Men, women and transgender alike have been making the best of difficult situations for centuries.  Sex work is not a new phenomenon.  It is known as the oldest profession in the world for damn good reason!  Historically, it was not always an illegal or heavily regulated profession either.

Australia needs to make a National change uniting the States and follow in the huge footsteps of New South Wales and New Zealand who lead the way with complete Decriminalisation of the sex industry.  Draconian laws and heavy-handed, often purely misguided moralistic regulations do nothing but make the lives of sex workers fraught with danger, ripe for exploitation and reek of political potato chips.  How many more stories like Gemma’s do you have to hear before you realise that she is a person just like yourself, with a family and friends, neighbours, work colleagues and a guy that comes around to mow the lawn every 2nd Wednesday. A person who deserves to have laws in place to protect her human rights to live and work free from harrassment.

Why is Federal Australia still turning a blind eye to screeds of evidence-based research stating how decriminalising sex work removes so much unwanted paper work for bureaucrats, free’s up resources for Police to actually focus on real crimes, empowers people to make better choices, makes would be criminals think twice, and more importantly begins to improves negative stigma and discrimination which in turn raises self esteem and a feeling of belonging in society for a vulnerable minority group?  Perhaps we need to invest our hard earned tax payer dollars into buying a pair of thick lens glasses so that each and every Member of Parliament can begin to read the not so small print in front of them.

Finally, I have one last statement to make.  Sex workers are here to stay.  Sex workers are uniting and growing stronger every single day.  Sex workers will not tolerate abuse of any kind.  There should be ZERO TOLERANCE against violence full stop!  To those of you who are foolish enough to try to hurt or belittle us, remember we are watching you with eye’s in the back of our heads.  We are becoming organised and united.  These men were exposed to the hotel reception staff who also took great offence and I have no doubt they would have been uncomfortable attempting to explain it away.  Be prepared to be questioned, stood up to, refused, denied and exposed as the low-life scourge of society that you are.  We are the majority.  You are merely that 1% of the population that resembles a sharp prick we encounter occasionally when pulling out the weeds.

 

Jx

Published by the Aim Network

Published by Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)

 

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.

Motels Not Happy About Hookers

Offensive Media Articles

Again, another shoddy attempt at journalism.  Poorly written and bia’s.  The Morning Bulletin published an article in Rockhampton titled Motels not happy about hookers’, dated 18th November, 2011 by Kerri-Anne Mesner.  In this article I am offended by the language that has been used to refer to legal sex workers and the total lack of consultation with sex worker organisations, such as RESPECT Inc.

The derogatory word ‘prostitute’ has been used eight times, and the word ‘hooker’ twice, including in the title.  The correct title ‘legal sex workers’ has not been used at all.  There is also a lack of counter-argument from sex workers in the article.  I have no doubt in my mind that Kerri-Anne Mesner made little or no attempt to consult with sex worker organisations for comments.  If she did, I expect she would have sent an email at 4.45pm on a Friday afternoon, when most people have already left for the weekend.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the obvious bias in the article.  Unfortunately, a lot of Australians are ignorant of the arguments for or against sex workers and rely on the media for facts. Sadly, media articles like this one do more harm than good and are no more than inflammatory.  Journalists need to be educated about how to write and research their stories and at the very least, have their stories read by an editor to ensure high reporting standards are maintained.  Kerri-Anne Mesner’s article is embarrassing and insulting to the general public who are educated who can read between the lines.  I feel I have to fill in some of the gaps in order to develop the story into one worth reading.

It is important to add that the recent Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) decision ruling against the legal sex worker known as GK in favour of the owners of the Drovers Rest Motel in Moranbah, is being appealed.  It is highly likely to be overturned and bought in line with current anti-discrimination laws and modern business practice.  Unfortunately people in positions of power are also human and prone to letting their own personal bias interfere with ethical decision-making, as is evident in this particular ruling.

Following on from this, is the weak interpretation of the Liquor Licensing Act that QCAT based their decision on.  In my opinion, if it is all of a sudden found to be illegal to operate a business from your motel room, which has a mini bar, in a hotel/motel that holds a liquor license, then wouldn’t that also apply to all the other businessmen and woman who use hotels and motel’s?  Consider ‘business’ conferences conducted for all sorts of businesses across Australia where alcohol is served or available.

The assertion that lawful sex workers are now moving into unlicensed premises is a misnomer.  We have always been there.  The comment by yet another motel owner is blatant evidence that he has been practising discrimination against lawful sex workers for at least four years by ‘turfing them out’.  How has he been able to get away with this illegal behaviour?  The idea that there are also legal sex workers who are male or transgender seems to completely baffle the owners.  They  appear ignorant that the sex industry is not a woman only service provider.  I would like to know how they ‘discovered’ how much money the male sex worker was earning?  I can only assume he had been stalked.  What disgusting language to refer to a legal sex worker as a ‘male-on-male’!

Further more, I would like to know how they can tell the difference between one legal sex worker and another?  How do they know which lawful sex workers will behave questionably?  My guess is that they don’t and they have made an unlawful policy by labelling all sex workers as problematic.  All this does is create an even bigger problem by not addressing the actual behaviour, on a case-by-case basis, as you would with any other guest.  I suspect that there is an irrational fear of legal sex workers which has resulted in whorephobia.

In conclusion, although these articles frustrate and annoy me for there poor reporting, they are useful for highlighting what the actual issues are.  Gender discrimination, sex worker discrimination and sexism.  They encourage debate, and in my opinion any debate is better than complete denial of the issues.  It is clear in the article in question, that Kerri-Anne Mesner has not really thought about what the real story here is.  She has missed her opportunity to really make a journalistic impression on those of us with learned intelligence.

It is about time the media took some pride in their stories and did Australians a service instead of slapping us in the face with bigotry.  Kerri-Anne Mesner could be forgiven for taking the easy road, but in this instance the implications of her negligence on the community is too great.  It is important that Australians are educated about facts about sex work, sex workers and the law.  Only then will the general public be fully informed about the pro’s and con’s of all aspects of the sex industry.  It is simply an injustice to write about moralistic assumptions based on what a small group of hostile hoteliers are saying without hearing what key experts have to say on the real issues.

I am carefully considering making formal complaints about media articles like this that discriminate in their own words.  It is about time we take a stand and insisted that journalists are university educated and supervised before their stories can be published.  Australia needs information to be based on fact rather than speculation.  Anything less, is nothing more than bullshit.  Jx

Jx

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Coal Girls Hit Pay Dirt

Offensive Media Articles

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.

Jx

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