This is part three in my series of posts about trafficking. I previously wrote about my suspicions in regards to the portrayal of sex trafficking in the media, and the motivations of the anti trafficking industry in Peak Hour, and the negative outcomes of the trafficking hysteria in The Car Crash. This post is the answer. A green light for migrant sex workers and a red light for trafficking.
If you follow on from my original post the answer seems really obvious to me. There are many sex workers all around the world who travel or would like to travel. Just let them do it.
Let people apply for working Visa’s in Australia as a sex worker. As I have mentioned, I personally have the contact details of at least 10 sex workers currently working in China who would love to come to Australia to work in your brothel, if they could get a Visa. The barrier is that they are unable to get a working Visa as a sex worker. Not to mention the process of applying for Visa’s to enter Australia is extremely difficult because we conveniently do not translate the required documents, so people who do not speak or read English, often need a third person to help them apply for their travel documents. Some of the sex workers I referred to have considered paying a third person a lot of money to assist them in travelling to Australia to work, and some knew other workers who had done that. Obviously being in a lot of debt to the person assisting you travel or your employer does create vulnerabilities for the worker though, it can take away a some of their bargaining power and in some cases could restrict the sex workers choices. A few simple changes could allow sex workers from around the world to come to Australia willingly to work. There would be no demand for stolen or coerced non sex working Asian women in the sex industry, because lets face it while having sex slaves in place of willing workers might be slightly better for short term profits, it has got to create some serious challenges. Cut out the middle man and the demand by allowing migrant sex workers to enter and work in Australia legally and independently.
That is ofcourse if your concern is stopping trafficking, and not stopping sex work.
It might also be useful to educate all sex workers, our employers, our clients and the general community about our rights, in appropriate and useful ways. Through our peer organisations and that are supported to make sure they can outreach to all sex workers from all backgrounds making sure people know their rights. Make sure we all know what we should expect and what is not OK at work so that we are less likely to be exploited or treated badly and we know what to do or who we can get more information or support from if we do have problems at work.
Of course, where I live in South Australia that would mean giving us some rights in the first place. Decriminalise sex work, and give us our rights!
Educate the wider community, health and welfare services and the police to treat sex workers with respect. Help break down the stigma of being or seeing a sex worker, so that we can talk to people about what’s going on without fear of being judged. The discriminatory perceptions that exist about sex workers and our clients doesn’t make it easy for us to share anything openly or honestly, or to voice our concerns.
Take crimes against us seriously. Dont turn it into a witch hunt on an entire industry, or blame my choice of work, just give me the support I need and deal with the crime at hand. Create safe spaces for people to report crimes, concerns or suspicions and then treat those reports seriously, and respectfully, like you would if the crime or complaint had been committed in a restaurant.
Encourage and support our organising. In Australia, we havent got our own union, but we have our own workers rights groups and organisations. Many sex workers are members of those organisations and many many many more sex workers receive support, information or advocacy around workplace issues from these groups and organisations. They are also fighting for our workers rights at a state and national level. Strong sex worker organising reduces the risks of us being exploited at work.
Stop the police raids. Stop pushing us and our workplaces, industry, employers and clients so far underground that we can barely see the light. Change the approach and try protecting sex workers instead of scaring us. Save the raids for actual crimes.
Is it really that difficult? Want to stop slavery? Free the slaves.
Seriously, allow sex workers to travel to Australia and work in the sex industry legally, educate them on how to do that, give us rights, make sure we know our rights, create safe and supportive spaces for us or our clients to report crimes or concerns or to make complaints, treat those reports with respect and take them seriously, stop thinking and suggesting that being treated badly is part of doing sex work, support us to organise to improve our work conditions for all sex workers and make the cops protect us instead or raiding us.