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Roxana Diamond is affiliated with SIN. SIN is by sex workers for sex workers and offers peer support, education, information, advocacy and referral services for sex workers. She is also a member of Scarlet Alliance and has participated in National Cabinet of Whores meetings with member organisations. But sex workers, who face stigma and discrimination at the best of times, have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
The United Nations has warned. As a result of the COVID pandemic, sex workers all over the world are experiencing hardship, a total loss of income and increased discrimination and harassment.
And how it has been up to sex workers yet again to protect their community, underscoring the importance of decriminalising sex work. There is no official data on the of sex workers in Australia, but inthe UN estimated there were 20, Sex workers globally have long lobbied for the full decriminalisation of sex work.
But in Australia, laws differ from state to state. For example, sex work is largely decriminalised in New South Wales and the Northern Territorywhile in Victoria and Queenslandsome sex work is legalised. Sex work is still criminalised in South Australia and Western Australiawhile in Tasmaniabrothel work and street based sex work is illegal, but private sex work is not.
Legalisation creates a two-tiered systemwhere compliance is low and sex workers are heavily policed. We also know that the sex work population contains ificant s of migrant sex workers, who face compounded levels of stigma, discrimination and criminalisation. When COVID hit in March, the federal government listed brothels, strip clubs and sex on premises businesses as prohibited venues. This obviously had dramatic and immediate implications for sex workers. The different legal and pandemic situations around Australia have seen differing COVID restrictions and support, state by state, confusing sex workers.
For example, sex workers have been able to continue working outside of brothels in NSW. In Queensland and Victoria, brothels were closed and private sex work was banned. As national peak body Scarlet Alliance notessex workers predominantly work for sex industry businesses as independent contractors.
Hookers in Australia they are sole traders who work for themselves. But for others, government support has not been an option. Some sex workers have adapted their business model for the pandemic, by moving online. But the sex worker community is also hearing stories of sex workers facing homelessness and housing instability, along with difficulties buying food and basic items and paying bills.
As the pandemic took hold in Australia, sex workers quickly realised they would need to support themselves. : The right to bare arms: the history of Australian sex worker activism. Meeting every week, the Cabinet of Whores has developed advice around financial supportpandemic restrictions and back-to-work requirements. It has also developed harm reduction advice for in-person work, such as not working if feeling unwell, screening clients and washing hands after touching Hookers in Australia.
These materials have also been translated into Chinese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese. The Cabinet of Whores has been crowdfunding to try and provide extra financial support for sex workers who have lost income and issued advice around transitioning to online, non-contact work.
This includes webcam and phone sex work, offering social time on the phone or online and selling pictures and videos. While some state governments have now developed COVID-safe plans for sex workers led by sex workersthe public focus has been on policing the industry during the pandemic.
The lack of clarity from governments about how and when services can re-open has also hurt efforts to help sex workers to earn an income and do it safely during COVID : The stigma of sex work comes with a high cost. Sex workers have a strong tradition of working as a community to keep safe, supported and healthy. Sex worker organising and peer education in Australia is already credited with excellent occupational health and safety, high condom use and low rates of sexually transmitted infections.
Australia has virtually eliminated HIV in the sex worker population.
COVID has demonstrated once again how sex workers can mobilise to support themselves and reach marginalised members of their community. However, it also shows how the patchwork of different laws in Australia can create confusion and makes things especially difficult in a crisis. Rather than policing sex workgovernments should focus instead on supporting peer education and harm reduction efforts.
These are best practice models and are long-term solutions. Sex workers are closely watching a Victorian government reviewdue to report in September, on the decriminalisation of sex work in the state. The campaign to decriminalise sex work in South Australia also continues.
Full decriminalisation of sex work in Australia is critical.
As this will enable all sex workers to access occupational work, health and safety protections and supports, just like other Australian employees. Be Curious — Leeds, Leeds. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Roxana DiamondFlinders University. The United Nations has warned, As a result of the COVID pandemic, sex workers all over the world are experiencing hardship, a total loss of income and increased discrimination and harassment. COVID lockdowns have had a dramatic impact on sex workers. The National Cabinet of Whores As the pandemic took hold in Australia, sex workers quickly realised they would need to support themselves.
The importance of peer education While some state governments have now developed COVID-safe plans for sex workers led by sex workersthe public focus has been on policing the industry during the pandemic. This emphasis damages ongoing efforts within the community to work safely. : The stigma of sex work comes with a high cost Sex workers have a strong tradition of working as a community to keep safe, supported and healthy. So, decriminalisation is key COVID has demonstrated once again how sex workers can mobilise to support themselves and reach marginalised members of their community.Hookers in Australia
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