Sex workers often point to the police and the government as being the sources of our problems. And, no doubt, with a majority of sex workers still criminalised in Victoria under outdated sex work licensing laws, the very system we live under seeks to oppress us in a range of ways.
Victoria Police, like all police forces in Australia, get a bad review by most sex workers. But when you read the horror stories from sex workers in the USA, you can’t help but feel that, by global standards, Victoria Police are doing a better job than most.
Fiona Patten’s Sex Work Review will consider ‘sex worker advocacy for safety and wellbeing’. And this raises the question of how successful we’ve been in fighting for our own rights.
Are sex workers powerless beings swept up by the currents of society, with no agency to determine the direction of their industry or their rights’ based movement?
Activists from all walks of life have proven to be poor at self-reflection and criticism. What role have sex workers themselves played in reducing Victoria to the point where we lag behind the other states when it comes to law reform?
Ever since the sex workers’ rights movement formed in Australia in the late 1970’s, Victoria has stood out, but not always for the right reasons. In the 1980’s we were world leaders when it came to peer-led activism and engagement with government. We secured funding to support our much needed activism. But along the way mistakes (and some big mistakes) were made. And that’s not something our community wants to talk about. Talking about blow jobs, threesomes, and all types of kinky sex acts is normal for us. But if you dare mention that we may have made mistakes or got things wrong… Now that’s taboo.
Today Victoria stands out as the Australian state with a highly fractured sex workers’ rights movement. Fingers crossed this Review can reset the entire state of affairs.