International Sex Worker RIghts Day 3rd of March

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bounce's picture
bounce
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Feb 23 2013 14:07
International Sex Worker RIghts Day 3rd of March

International sex worker rights day is coming up next month (on the 3rd), so it seemed timely to bring up some of the issues impacting on sex workers in Australia.

In NSW sex work is decriminalised but the state government wants to change this and replace it with a licensing model for brothels that will harm sex workers.

http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/news/national/9510-decriminalisation-remain...

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/52245

In QLD the state government has changed the anti discrimination act so that motels and hotels can refuse sex workers as guests.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-02/hoteliers-given-power-to-evict-sex...

sex workers are also criminalised if they work in pairs, even though it can be preferable and safer to do so.
http://www.escortjodine.com/sex-workers-and-violence/

In SA sex work is still criminalised.

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13034

Street sex work is still criminalised in many parts of Australia.

http://port-phillip-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/have-your-say-po...

This is only a small handful of the issues impacting sex worker rights in Australia.

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Steven.
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Feb 25 2013 12:08

Thanks for flagging this up, so libcom can help promote this day.

wojtek
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Mar 1 2013 17:02

Have there been any attempts to organise against criminalisation, unscrupulous bosses, etc.? I'm likely way off the mark here, but I get the impression it's mostly self-employment and agency work (please do correct me if I'm wrong) so I imagine it'd be very hard to organise even without the industry's criminalisation...

Either way, thanks for the information and good luck with whatever you have planned.

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bounce
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Mar 2 2013 06:49

Scarlet Alliance and several state based groups are active in these areas but can only do so much and without a sex industry union organising is made harder.

I don't know the stats for what percentage of sex workers are self employed etc but I would guess that the biggest percentage work in brothels (if we are only counting fs sex work). I'm technically self employed as a brothel worker but that is only so that my boss doesn't have to pay me a wage, they still have the power to hire and fire me, I have shifts set for me, I can't come and go as I like.

I don't know that being self employed is always something that makes organising harder, street sex workers have often been behind organising for rights and are mostly self employed. I think the self employed, sex workers who are not political because it doesn't impact them are a small minority, most private workers I know are still very impacted by the laws, most also have either previously worked in brothels or still do some work in brothels. Even without a union there are sex worker groups in each state.

A lot of the sex workers I know are not aware of things like the potential changes to decriminalization (even by boss wasn't aware of it), not because they don't care or because the industry is too fragmented but because the silencing of sex workers even impacts what we know about what is happening in our own industry. There is very little mainstream or alternative media attention paid to sex worker industrial rights and when there is attention paid it often just ends up being a debate on whether the industry should be abolished or not. Which evidently is more juicy for readers/viewers than the benefits of sex workers working together, the differences between decriminalisation and legalisation etc but it is hard to keep having the same discussion when you want to be able to move past that and have discussions that might result in positive industrial changes in the sex industry.

I think some other issues that make organising harder are similar to the issues that impact organising in other industries with a high turnover rate, high rates of casual labour, high rates of unofficial labour etc like retail and hospitality and that we can look at industrial organising in those industries and learn from them. Obviously there are also some big differences too and there is no template for sex worker organising.

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arminius
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Mar 3 2013 18:40

The IWW used to have some interest in this issue. What is the status of that effort and the IWW's official structure that I recall for it now?

happyanarchy
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Mar 4 2013 02:48

The IWW official structure includes sex workers as an Industrial Union - IU 690 Sex Trade Workers. And from my understanding, it was the earliest attempt to formally unionise sex workers. I may be wrong on that scorecard of history though.

I was told a while ago that Sydney IWW was going to be involved, but haven't heard a word about it since about that campaign.

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bounce
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Mar 4 2013 11:06

I know the Sydney IWW put out a statement of solidarity with Sex Workers in NSW fighting the proposed changes to decriminalisation. I'm not sure if there is anything else happening in the IWW in Australia around sex worker organising. I think that the best thing for sex workers would be our own, indipendent union (especially considering how much time is wasted having to defend your work when in any sort of organisation that is not exclusively sex workers) but this would take a lot of time and work before it could eventuate.

caterpillar
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Mar 5 2013 06:42

I think IWW needs to stop talking as if it's actually organising sex workers in Australia. There have only been a couple of vague attempts to even relate to the issue. I feel like some IWW members brag about involving sex workers because it gives the union cred but in reality, with the exception of one or two individual members who work in the area, it hasn't done anything to support these struggles. And personally I wouldn't encourage any sex worker to get involved in IWW in Australia until the organisation has done some serious work to make the organisation a much safer space than it is at the moment.

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ites
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Mar 5 2013 10:49

admin: off topic comment removed. Do not derail any more threads into personal disputes

wojtek
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Mar 6 2013 23:45

I thought folk might find this interesting at the very least re. organising:

Incorporating Sex Workers into the Argentine Labor Movement