Policy and legal frameworks of sex work


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This presentation was given by Christian Vega, Ari Reid and Janelle Fawkes (Scarlet Alliance) at the AFAO HIV Educators Conference 2010.

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  • Sex Workers believe the sexual activity between consenting adults is not the jurisdiction of any government agency. This has been reflected in motions passed by the government in the past and to act contrarily would be seen as a reversal of progress. In 1973, then Prime Minister John Gorton proposes a motion that is passed by the House Of Representatives “That … homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should not be subject to the criminal law”. This was beginning of recognition of the rights of the GLBTIQA community. While this example does not refer specifically to sex work, the same civil liberties can be applied to sex workers and their clients. These human rights extend to all; to suggest that we, sex workers, should are not entitled to the same is a form of discrimination. http://home.vicnet.net.au/~victorp/part5a03.htm
  • Sex worker organisations/projects and sex workers are the obvious choice to inform sex industry policy Sex workers are the experts As identified by Terry in opening this symposium government is recognising our role in advocating on behalf of sex workers – the partnership approach is not only successful in HIV policy development other areas of government are catching on. But it must be resourced. That means including advocacy within contracts. That means recognising that as community based organisations we need to consult effectively with our communities – that must be resourced. And it means recognising that community engagement/community development are core to the work of sex worker organisations in order that we are not working in isolation and not informed by sex workers. And it means having policy staff in our organisations. It also means the funding sex work governance of sex worker organisations to ensure the leadership is there to effectively do advocacy. It particularly means state governments recognising the benefit of supporting sex worker community based organisations for resourcing over (what is mistakenly seen as the safer option) of general tendering for who will deliver sex worker peer education services as this (as i showed in my originally diagram) is where the sex worker input that informs effective advocacy comes from in a sex worker community based organisation. Equally if its not working we need to advocate
  • Policy and legal frameworks of sex work

    1. 1. Policy and Legal Frameworks of Sex Work And it’s impact on our work Christian Vega Ari Reid Janelle Fawkes
    2. 2. Presentation Overview <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Models of Sex Work Legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Criminalisation </li></ul><ul><li>Legalisation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Problem Areas of Legalisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enforcement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Decriminalisation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why sex workers support Decriminalisation as best practice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legislative changes, the good, the bad, the ugly </li></ul><ul><li>Funding for Advocacy </li></ul>
    3. 3. Introduction <ul><li>“ That … [sexual] acts between consenting adults in private should not be subject to the criminal law” </li></ul>
    4. 4. Sex work legal models Criminalisation Legalisation Decriminalisation
    5. 5. Australian sex work laws, 2010 Prohibition Licensing Decriminalisation
    6. 6. Criminalisation <ul><li>Sex industry business’s are illegal and sex workers criminalised </li></ul><ul><li>Laws are often outdated, confusing and difficult to police </li></ul><ul><li>Police often take a gate keeper role </li></ul><ul><li>Industry underground, no OH&S or industrial protections </li></ul><ul><li>Limited access to legal avenue to fight for rights </li></ul>
    7. 7. South Australia <ul><li>Completely criminalised </li></ul><ul><li>No law reform for more than 55 years </li></ul><ul><li>Condoms and safe sex literature as evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Brothel, escort, private and opportunistic work still occur </li></ul><ul><li>Underground industry and masked industry </li></ul>
    8. 8. South Australia Sex workers fight for decriminalisation <ul><li>Build support </li></ul><ul><li>Community development </li></ul><ul><li>Public Rally </li></ul><ul><li>Petition </li></ul><ul><li>Supportive politicians </li></ul>
    9. 9. Another form of Criminalisation: Swedish Model <ul><li>Major Components: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Decriminalisation of sex workers as victims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Criminalisation of purchasers of sex </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Criminalisation of procurement of sex </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Impact: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drives the sex industry underground </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Isolates sex workers and denies them access to services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Devalues the agency and experience of sex workers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contributes to social stigma </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Legalisation <ul><li>Introduces special laws that deal with an activity </li></ul><ul><li>Is a form of discrimination </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforces social stigma </li></ul><ul><li>Creates an illegal industry </li></ul><ul><li>Confuses regulatory roles </li></ul>
    11. 11. Victoria <ul><li>Sex work is regulated by the Prostitution Control Act 1994 & Prostitution Control Regulations 2006 </li></ul>
    12. 12. Regulators <ul><li>The government agencies that assertively regulate the sex industry are: </li></ul><ul><li>• Consumer Affairs Victoria </li></ul><ul><li>• Business Licensing Authority </li></ul><ul><li>• Local Councils </li></ul><ul><li>• Department of Health </li></ul><ul><li>• Victoria Police </li></ul><ul><li>• Worksafe Victoria </li></ul><ul><li>• Australian Federal Police </li></ul><ul><li>• Australian Tax Office </li></ul><ul><li>• Department of Immigration and Citizenship </li></ul>
    13. 13. Problematic Areas of Legislation <ul><li>“ Primum non nocere” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Criminalised Sex Workers <ul><li>HIV+ sex workers </li></ul><ul><li>Migrant sex workers </li></ul><ul><li>Street sex workers </li></ul><ul><li>Young sex workers </li></ul><ul><li>Sex workers who work from home </li></ul><ul><li>Non-compliant sex workers </li></ul>
    15. 15. Mandated Condom Use <ul><li>The Government has no right to mandate sexual activity between consenting adults </li></ul><ul><li>Sex workers have demonstrated strong safe sex negotiation skills </li></ul><ul><li>Law enforcement becomes questionable </li></ul><ul><li>Policy undermines self determination </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Longo, P. & Ditmore M., 100% Condom Use Policy, Empowerment or Abuse?, 2003 </li></ul>
    16. 16. Advertising <ul><li>Sex work advertising regulations are more restrictive </li></ul><ul><li>Sex workers are discriminated against </li></ul><ul><li>Restrictions diminish a sex worker’s capacity to be competitive </li></ul><ul><li>Low levels of compliance are then encouraged </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/library/nsw_advertising_june09/ </li></ul>
    17. 17. Mandatory Testing <ul><li>Sex workers have demonstrated being “low risk” </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, testing is unnecessarily costly for all </li></ul><ul><li>Failing to comply can lead to income loss </li></ul><ul><li>Doctors can prevent sex workers from working based on outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Prevents access to sexual health services for other, more at risk people </li></ul>
    18. 18. Progress in Victoria <ul><li>Activation of sex worker rights lobby group </li></ul><ul><li>Integration of sex workers into government advisory bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Successful legislative lobbying for aspects of regulation to move from Justice to Health </li></ul><ul><li>Small indicators that legislation is moving towards human rights and best practice </li></ul>
    19. 19. Decriminalisation <ul><li>Removes all laws associated with sex work </li></ul><ul><li>Treats the sex industry like all other industries </li></ul><ul><li>Allows sex industry to be governed by existing laws and regulations that govern all other businesses and work </li></ul>
    20. 20. Benefits of decriminalisation <ul><li>Allows ALL sex workers choice and control over ways that they work </li></ul><ul><li>Means ALL workers may work legally and without fear of prosecution </li></ul><ul><li>Gives ALL workers OH&S and industrial rights </li></ul><ul><li>Begins to break down stigma and stereotyping </li></ul><ul><li>With addition of Equal Opportunity legislation is best practice for health promotion. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Peer Education Input by sex workers Sex Worker Organisation/ project State & Territory Commonwealth Government Policy media Community education resources Policy feedback loop
    22. 22. www.scarletalliance.org.au