Sex workers protest violence

Issue 

Scarlet Alliance released this statement on July 19

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Recent murders and violent attacks on sex workers have sparked an unprecedented wave of international action calling for an end to discrimination and criminalisation of sex workers.

Scarlet Alliance, an Australian sex-worker association, along with our members and allies in Australia, joined the international protests in memoriam of sex workers Jasmine in Sweden and Dora in Turkey, murdered within one day of each other.

The protests took place outside the Swedish and Turkish embassies on July 19 and other prominent locations in every state of Australia and across hundreds of cities worldwide, to draw attention to the systems of criminalisation and discrimination that allow violent murders to happen and enable the lack of action by police.

Rose Alliance, a Swedish sex-worker organisation, said on July 12: “Our board member, fierce activist and friend Petite Jasmine got brutally murdered yesterday.

“Several years ago she lost custody of her children as she was considered to be an unfit parent due to being a sex worker. The children were placed with their father regardless of him being abusive towards Jasmine. Yesterday the father of her children killed her. She always said: ‘Even if I can’t get my kids back I will make sure this never happens to any other sex worker’.”

Sweden, with its reputation for being a leader in gender and social equality, is also known for passing the 1999 law that criminalises the clients and many aspects of sex workers’ work and support structures.

In considering all sex workers as victims and all clients as abusers, the Swedish state denied women who sell sexual services any kind of agency. This paternalistic approach, aggressively promoted to other countries including Australia as “protecting women”, actually leads to an attitude that infantilises women and discredits women's choices and experiences. It ultimately leads to many human rights violations.

Women caught selling sex have their children taken away from them, are kicked out of their homes and see their experiences denied.

Ari Reid, a sex worker in Australia, a mother and representative of Scarlet Alliance who is coordinating the Australian events, said: “Jasmine’s story broke my heart and as a mother and a sex worker, it also scared me.

“The promotion of the ‘Swedish model’ of sex-work regulation, which allowed this to happen, must stop.”

Enough sex workers have suffered or died because of stigma and criminalisation. We demand change.

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