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Scarlet Alliance and SWOP NSW Joint Statement

Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association and Sex Workers Outreach Project of New South Wales (SWOP) extend our sincere condolences to those affected by the murder committed in yesterday’s Clarence Street attack in Sydney. The sex worker community is devastated by the series of random and senseless acts of violence that occurred in the Sydney CBD yesterday afternoon Tuesday, 13th August. We note that media coverage of the attack has placed emphasis on the occupation of one of the victims, identifying her as a sex worker. We urge those reporting on this story to take greater care around this issue, and to avoid or redact sensationalist coverage that fails to portray her as a whole individual and family and community member who will be deeply missed and mourned.

We ask that the media remember that all victims involved in this incident were valued members of their families and communities, none of whom should be portrayed solely in sensationalist terms, due to their having possibly been killed during the commission of their work.

Michaela Dunn was a woman, a community member, and a whole individual who will be missed and mourned.

Emphasising the occupation of one victim and attributing the attack to sex work, whether implicitly or explicitly, perpetuates stereotypes of sex workers that blames them when they are victims of crime, and in this case detracts from the tragic fact that a young woman was murdered by a violent man in Sydney’s CBD yesterday.
Sex workers regularly face barriers to accessing justice and reporting crimes against us, because so often the violence is attributed to our work.

There is significant stigma and discrimination experienced by sex workers and too often our identities, lives and experiences are reduced to our occupation. Sex industry workers are worthy of the same rights and protections as those working in other professions. They are equally deserving of empathy and consideration when befallen by tragedy.

Scarlet Alliance and SWOP NSW request that media are respectful to friends and family of Michaela Dunn, and recognise we are mourning the loss of a valued and loved human being.

We offer the victim’s family our deepest and most sincere condolences at this time. Our collective hearts are heavy. Members of the sex worker community who would like to connect with other peers are encouraged to contact their local sex worker peer organisation.

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