Sex Work ~ Sex Trafficking: are we still having this conversation?

Some feminausts support sex worker rights

Yet again I’ve been trying to avoid making my own opinions about sex work on this site because I feel utterly unqualified to talk on the subject. HOWEVER, today feminaust received a media release from the Scarlet Alliance which indicated they were after some media and I guess I can’t help but respond because let’s be honest. When have I ever not loved a bit of controversy?.

Some of you will be familiar with the involvement feminaust has had with the sex work debate over the last few months starting here, followed by this, responded to by this and finally put to rest by this…or so I thought. If you’re following us on twitter you might have noticed a bit of a tete a tete with @randydollars a few weeks ago (which resulted in me having a major think about the way I use language to disempower) and now Four Corners and The Age are getting in the mix with their “investigation”. 

I wasn’t going to respond to it because honestly, I didn’t watch it and am fairly sure I won’t agree with anything they report on but the pressure is mounting and with #FUCsex currently trending on twitter and awesome responses like this one from ryy popping up I guess I thought I should weigh in (although after half a bottle of good red, I’m not sure how much sense I’m going to make).

So what do I think? My opinion is actually pretty simple really.

  1. Talk to sex workers
  2. Stop using emotive and disempowering language like “selling their bodies” and “trade in flesh”.
  3. Start looking at sex work as a legitimate industry and demand legislative and policing changes accordingly (I don’t get STI screened every month just because I work with young people or interrogated to check whether I REALLY want to be running a website)
  4. Remember the people who care the most about people exploited by the sex industry are the people who want the sex industry to be the most legitimate. SO START TALKING TO THEM!

And breathe.

feminaust believes in the rights for women to work to live, live to work, exist free from discrimination, disempowerment, negative social stereotypes and in particular to be safe from being “rescued” by anyone who thinks they know better. Whether that is because they’re gay, a sex worker, a circus clown or a CEO.

Finally, in respect of the men and women who actually know what they’re talking about, work together, volunteer, support and mentor and lobby and fight for sex worker rights I will respond to the Four Corners program not in my own words but in the words of someone far better qualified and knowledgeable than I; Elena Jeffereys from the Scarlet Alliance;

“Prevention includes better access to visas, improved methods of migration, removing barriers to independent travel and migration, and providing information about the laws and human rights in Australia,”

“Access to visas will prevent trafficking-like situations. A witch hunt will not.”

feminaust will try to include as many legitimate responses to this debate on our Welcome to Monday roundup next week. In the meantime check these ones out;

This entry was posted in Original comment/article by MsElouise. Bookmark the permalink.

About MsElouise

MsElouise is a community programs worker and feminist from Melbourne Australia. She likes to travel, write, rant and make people feel uncomfortable about their assumptions. She hopes to one day be remembered for changing the world just a little bit. Right now she does this by proving that teenage girls are a higher order of beings.

5 thoughts on “Sex Work ~ Sex Trafficking: are we still having this conversation?

  1. You’re brave MsElouise,

    Be careful, someone is going to call you sympathiser for rapists of Asian women. There isn’t very much room for logical debate about migrant workers rights, much less migrant sex workers rights.

    I just got back from China where I met with many sex workers from across the mainland and Hong Kong. Many of them wished they could travel legally. Most cannot. With all the sex workers desperate to come to our country , why on earth would ‘traffickers’ need to “trick” people into sex working in a different country. They don’t. Instead they need to “trick” Australian immigration to get here. Honestly if you met these workers, they are amazing, strong people. To suggest Asian women are subservient or whatever (as 4 corners did) is so so so so sickeningly racist and absolutely false.

    And then what if you get here illegally. And your working in an illegal industry or workplace. Where do you turn if you are being exploited?

    Oh and 4 corners blaming clients? nice one. If, just for example, someone is being forced to do sex work against their will, who do you think from the outside world is going to come into contact with that person. Their clients. I have many many many requests daily for kissing and cuddling, but in 15 years only 3 clients have suggested some kind of forced roleplay. If someone is there against their will we should be supporting clients to speak out, not demonisning them.

    People should do a google images search of sex work protests and see all the amazing *victims* from around the world all demanding the same thing. The right to do sex work safely and legally.

    • I haven’t met any sex workers from China but I have met with academics, social workers and film makers who have been involved in sex worker rights in India and you speak directly to their experiences as well. In that country the greatest movements forwards have been achieved through collectivism, communication with police and authorities, self representation and a lot of fun. Check out the film “Tales of the night fairies” filmed in Calcutta to meet some of Indias most outspoken sex workers.

      • FW, that is the coolest video ever!! I have shared it and watched 50 times over the last week. I feel so privileged to be part of such a diverse strong amazing community. So inspiring! Thankyou thankyou thankyou xxx

  2. I definitely will check out that film, thankyou. From what I hear India has an amazing sex work project called the Sonogachi project where sex workers have even established their own sex worker bank! How cool! but don’t read “half the sky” by Nicholas Krsitov where he accuses the project of being “a cover for pimps and traffickers”!!

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