Guest post from Julie Bates (@JulieBates12), Sex worker and Principal, Urban Realists Planning & Health Consultants, in Sydney, Australia. This blog post is part of a global series of blog posts to mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, 2016. Read the full series at bit.ly/AllinDecrim, or follow the hashtags
#dec17 #IDEVASW on Twitter.
“Everyday I wake I count my blessings. That I am fortunate enough to live and work in a city in one of the two countries in the world to have decriminalised sex work.”
“Everyday I wake I count my blessings. That I am fortunate enough to live and work in a city in one of the two countries in the world to have decriminalised sex work.
However, being a senior citizen these days, I am not that old that I can’t remember a time when police powers and police corruption wielded their abusive force against us.
You’d be lucky to arrive home in time to pick up the kids from school or pay the babysitter without first having spent several hours, or perhaps the night, in the lock up before being hauled before a magistrate in the morning to answer ‘prostitution’ related charges. Having had that experience on more than one occasion myself, I empathise with my sisters and brothers who live daily under this threat and worse.
Moves towards decriminalisation in New South Wales, Australia began in 1979, when public order laws were reformed and penalties against street based sex work (SBSW) were removed.
A later amendment prohibited SBSW within view of homes, churches, hospitals etc. Lobbying by sex workers and our allies for decriminalistion of the whole industry continued in the ensuing years with a number of government inquiries.
In 1995, a Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service found pervasive corruption in connection with the sex industry.
In 1995, a Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service found pervasive corruption in connection with the sex industry. The Commission identified links between organised crime and corrupt law enforcement personnel profiting from illegal brothel operations which, of course, could not operate without police protection.
As a consequence, the Government had little choice but to repeal the laws that had criminalised many aspects of the sex industry and harmed and even led to the deaths of sex workers for many decades.
Decriminalisation of the adult sex industry has meant that prime responsibility for the industry has shifted from police to local government. Other regulatory authorities include Workcover NSW whose responsibility it is for occupational health and safety and the Ministry of Health who is responsible for public health and health promotion.
While there have been numerous benefits in terms of health and wellbeing … it is far from perfect in terms of planning law and anti-discrimination protection.
While there have been numerous benefits in terms of health and wellbeing and broad access to health promotion (including safe sex products) and peer based services, it is far from perfect in terms of planning law and anti-discrimination protection.
These imperfections have, save in one council area, deemed the private sector an unauthorised land use, the majority of councils permit brothels only in dangerous industrial zones and there remains limited impact on stigma and discrimination.
So despite having gained much when we compare ourselves to the rest of the country and much of the rest of the world, we keep fighting for our rights in order that the whole industry will be treated equally and that one day we may enjoy full equality under the law that only anti-discrimination protection can afford.”