Scarlet Alliance

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"These sex workers deserve our respect" Jane Cornes, The West Australian, 8 May 2007

I write to add my support to the comments of Meg Marshall, Secretary of Scarlet Alliance, on your reporting of sex workers in mining towns and the physical hardship of lots of sex (Letters, 5/5).

Even on a busy night, your average sex worker finishes his or her shift with less physical damage than a professional rugby player, yet no one turns the latter into a victim. To quote Janelle Fawkes, ex-President of Scarlet Alliance: "Those guys walk off the field with broken bones and blood noses but no one calls it exploitation, presumably because they get well paid for their work and do it by choice".

A few years back I spent a month working as a receptionist in an East Perth brothel as research for a story. Everything I saw, learnt and heard there conflicted with my preconceived notions of what sex workers were. Some of the women were thick and dull, others were funny, some were sad and many were intelligent and engaging. In other words, but for a career choice, they were just like you and I.

So enough of the stereotype. Statistically, sex workers have fewer STDs than the rest of us. And guess what, people? They're also far more likely to be supporting a family than a drug habit. To quote Ms Fawkes again: "There is no shuttle bus that carries sex workers into WA from Planet Whore, in fact, sex workers are part of our community, they are residents and they are ratepayers".

Sex work may not be your choice, but it is still a legitimate one that deserves our respect.

Jane Cornes Bayswater