STREET BASED SEX WORK
Street Based Sex Workers are the most visible sex workers in our community, and the stereotypical image of a sex worker for many is the image of street based workers in Kings Cross or the Wall or a worker leaning through a car window chatting to a client in St Kilda or in Perth. In reality most sex worker organisations estimate only 1 to 2% of all sex workers work on the street. However street based sex workers are often disporportionately targeted with the strong arm of the law, victimisation by politicians and vilification by other residents. Street based workers around Australia are at the coal face when it comes to discrimination and harassment against the sex industry. We are often the target of law and order campaigns, police powers in excess of those used on the rest of the community.
Street based sex workers do not exist because there are not enough places in brothels and solutions like "getting them off the streets and into brothels" have proven ineffective. In fact many street based workers speak of choosing this style of sex work because it allows us a level of freedom of working hours and times not available to brothel workers. Street based sex work also allows workers greater flexibility and choice in what services we are going to offer and control over our work practices. It also means the worker gets to pocket their income without paying half to the brothel owner. In this way street based sex workers speak about how they have a lot more independence.
Street based sex workers, like all sex workers, are members of our community, and as such deserve a safe working environment, free from harassment or criminalisation. New South Wales is the only state that has partially decriminalised street based work, and this is only in areas that are out of view or earshot of residences or public utilities. Currently all across Australia the inner city areas occupied by street based workers are becoming gentrified. New affluent residents are demanding an end to the street based industry, or that the industry be ‘moved along’ to another suburb.
Safe Houses: Safe houses have existed in one form or another historically in Kings Cross and enable street based sex workers access to a safe and clean working space where they can take their client. The room with shower facilities and safe sex equipment is often paid for by the half hour or hour at a nominal fee. This option has now been adopted by one council in NSW allowed the legal development of two safe houses.
Articles and Links of Interest
Discourse, Representation and Urban Planning: How a critical approach to discourse helps reveal the spatial re-ordering of Street Sex Work Kerkin, K, July 2004. This paper uses a case study of urban planning in an area of street sex work to explore the ways in which various representations of prostitution can be used to inform planning decisions. Representations of sex worker identity also expose complex spatial and social geographies and evolving processes of marginalisation and exclusion.
Street Prostitution And It’s Manipulation by Law In New South Wales. Roberta Perkins points out the disproportionate attention that street based sex work attracts in the laws, from non-sex working residents, the media and politicians. She also compares numbers of arrests and criminal regimes in New South Wales throughout the last 80 years.
Selling private sex in public places; Managing street prostitution in The Netherlands, Visser 1998. A comprehensive history of Dutch response to street based sex work, the successes and failures, and how the community has participated.
Sex workers rights - Human rights The Impact of Western Australian Legislation On Street Based Sex Workers by Elaine Dowd, in Outskirts Online Journal, Editor Delys Bird. Elaine is completing a Phd study of the Street Sex Worker Outreach Project WA, and this article is a summary of her early thoughts on the impact WA’s Prostitution Act 2000 has had on street based workers. Most disturbing is statistics on police sexual assault of workers.
Final Report Attorney General Street Prostitution Advisory Task Force 2000 This Victorian Advisory Group met for one year and after a comprehensive consultative process suggested safe areas be adopted to accommodate the street based sex industry within the community. The Labor Government baulked at all recommendations that required legislative reform. The research in this document clearly show that compromises can be achieved that meet the needs of sex workers and non-sex workers.
South Sydney Council Sex Industry Policy 2000 This Policy won an award from the Royal Australian Municipality Association. Pretty boring reading but worthwhile for appreciating the scope planning policies have to encompass. In particular Private Workers do not require a Development Application in South Sydney, but instead must comply with the policy to avoid prosecution. Probably the most progressive approach from a local council in Australia.
Harm minimization vs zero tolerance a comparative study of press reporting of the Victorian Street Prostitution Debate This paper explores the role of print media in the Victorian street prostitution debate.
Street Prostitution; 30 April 2002, The Law Report, Radio National with Damien Carrik A two part radio series including interviews with Andrew Miles of South Sydney Council, Jane Sanders of Shopfront Youth Legal Centre, Ingrid Van Beek of the Kirkton Road Health Centre, people who work in the street based sex industry, pissed off residents, school principles, the police and more. Produced by Michael Sherrifs.
Murray, Alison "Can the Sex Worker Speak" National AIDS Bulletin, 1995 Alison discusses the issues of sex worker representation, in particular the marginalisation of injecting drug users. Published in National AIDS Bulletin, 1995.