Call to Decriminalise Sex Work in Victoria
21 December 2015 at 10:53 am
A campaign calling for the full decriminalisation of sex work, in a bid to tackle violence against women, has been launched in Victoria.
Victoria’s Equality Minister, Martin Foley, joined leading community health organisation, Inner South Community Health, Australian Sex Party Leader, Fiona Patten, and sex worker Jane Green to launch the Decriminalise Sex Work campaign.
Green, who is also a spokesperson for Vixen Collective, Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation, said the campaign sought the removal of the Victorian Sex Work Act 1994 and Sex Work Regulations 2006, saying these had created a two tiered system where sex workers faced barriers to reporting violence and were subject to discrimination.
“Violence against sex workers, irrespective of gender, is compounded by barriers in reporting violence to police, failures in delivering justice in the courts and by the licensing system itself that supports and perpetuates whorephobia,” Green said.
The campaign was launched at Trades Hall, to underscore the issues sex workers faced when forced to operate without any of the labour or human rights protections granted to other workers.
CEO of Inner South Community Health, which works with sex workers across Victoria, Damien Ferrie, said “international evidence and advocacy tells us that violence against sex workers is a manifestation of the stigma and discrimination they experience as a result of being 'illegal'”.
"While many forms of sex work are legal in Victoria, those who operate outside the licensing system face greater barriers to reporting violence and seeking justice," Ferrie said.
The campaign was launched in conjunction with Red Umbrella Day, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
The Victorian call comes amid growing international calls for full decriminalisation, amid evidence that it would protect the health and human rights of sex workers.
Amnesty International recently adopted a policy to work towards full decriminalisation of consensual sex work.
"The policing of sex work law forces sex workers underground and therefore reduces their access to health, occupational support and legal services," Ferrie said.
"Decriminalisation will also ensure that overstretched Victorian police and courts can focus on more serious crimes."