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Wotton, Rachel "Harm Reduction Frameworks in Sex Worker Peer Education" Presented as a Key Note Paper at the International Harm Reduction Association Conference, Poland, 2007

On behalf of Scarlet Alliance – the Australian Sex Workers’ Association – and many sex worker groups from around the world, I am extremely proud to address this conference. This is the first time a sex worker has been granted the opportunity to make a keynote speech and I would like to thank the organising committee for recognising the valuable contribution sex workers are able to make to this conference. My aim today is to outline an appropriate model of harm reduction in relation to sex work and contextualize the true harms associated with sex work. Critical to this discussion is the acceptance of sex work as a legitimate occupation. I will focus on: 1. Identifying the true causes of harm associated with sex work 2. Defining harm reduction in the context of sex work 3. Identifying the key elements of best practice, and 4. Outlining examples of best practice. As our communities are strengthened so is our ability to inform and guide policy and participate in legislative reform. In the future we hope to see governments and other key stakeholders adopting these effective harm reduction strategies as well as forming stronger partnerships with sex workers to create positive change. Only then can sex workers’ Civil, Industrial and Human Rights be fully recognised and protected. Such long term changes will be the true measure of success for our harm reduction efforts. Our right to work without being criminalised or affected by abolitionist policies is a necessary part of this change. Sex workers have been objectified and medicalised for far too long. But we are not just objects to be ‘managed’ and controlled. With adequate support sex workers can lead the way. And so, whether it is in the boardroom, on the street, in the brothel or the parliament, there should be “nothing about us, without us”
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