Articles on Sex work

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Research has shown that when sex work is illegal, street sex workers who are victims of sexual assault are reluctant to report it to police. shutterstock

Victorian rape law needs reform to protect sex workers

There is a non-binding precedent in Victoria that allows judges to consider the victim's sexual experience when passing sentence on a sex offender – but only when the "victim is a prostitute".
The use of sex worker testimony by playwright Peta Brady has outraged interviewee Jane Green. Vixen Collective Archives

Ugly Mugs: ‘an unacceptable breach of sex workers’ privacy’

Peta Brady’s Ugly Mugs, which I saw in Sydney last week, opens with a gurney being wheeled onto the stage – on it, a sex worker who has died at the hands of a client and who, like the phoenix tattooed…
The Hon. Michael Kirby presenting a report on human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the UN earlier this year. EPA/Salvatore Di Nolfi

‘The law can be an awful nuisance in the area of HIV/AIDS’: Michael Kirby

Watch the Honourable Michael Kirby, visiting professorial fellow at UNSW Australia, talk about how the law impacts HIV below. Michael Kirby is a former justice of the High Court of Australia, serving from…
In most developed countries, including Australia, gay and bisexual men dominate numbers of new HIV infections. Aleksandar Stojkovic/Flickr

Know the epidemic: responding to HIV in three key communities

The number of new HIV diagnoses in Australia remains the highest in 20 years, according to data released today by UNSW’s Kirby Institute. While rates have remained stable over the past two years, the number…
Despite evidence to the contrary of crime and community debasement in areas where there are brothels, there remains a strong overall sense of “NIMBYism”. AAP/David Crosling

Not in my backyard: who wants a brothel as a neighbour?

Nationally and internationally, states adopt many different approaches to regulate brothels, ranging from legalisation to prohibition. But underlying all of these approaches is an ongoing assumption that…
‘Susan’, a trafficked sex worker - one of a minority, research has suggested. Manchester Evening News/PA Wire

Only a minority of UK sex workers have been trafficked

The moral panic on the supposed prevalence of trafficking in the global sex industry rests on a lie: that the majority of sex workers are trafficked. In fact, the opposite is true. However, on the basis…
Black economy: regulating sex work is easier said than done. Ian Britton

The Scarlet Isle: the politics of male sex work in Ireland

Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are taking steps towards new regulations for the sex work industry, principally aimed at better protecting victims of coercion and trafficking. However…
Taking it to the streets: the law makes it hard for sex workers to protect their health. PA

Sex workers need more than condoms and shelters

In the ongoing debate on the law’s response to sex work, it has not been forgotten that sex workers have pressing health needs. However, the debate is still very much focused on sexually transmitted infections…
What if sex workers were seen as allies in redressing gendered stereotypes? Lies Thru a Lens 

Criminalising those who pay sex workers misses the point

A recent report by the non-governmental organisation Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia recommends the adoption of the Nordic Model in Australia. Also known as the Swedish Model, this legislation…
There is still almost no serious discussion of the “Nordic Model” for prostitution in Australia. adaptorplug

Buying sex should be banned in Australia

Imagine a scenario where prostitution is not restricted or sanctioned but buying sex is banned. Could such an approach work in Australia? It already has elsewhere, and the evidence suggests it’s worth…
The writing was on the wall for some in city licensing review. Andy Bell

Police attitude to sex saunas is wrong, bizarre and dangerous

Scottish police were forced to issue a statement that they did “not advocate the banning of condoms” after a BBC report, which ran under the headline “Police ask for condom ban in Edinburgh saunas”, said…
A monument to a sex worker in Amsterdam. Is it time the media discourse around sex workers in society changed? mo's

Dehumanising sex workers: what’s ‘prostitute’ got to do with it?

Melbourne sex worker Tracy Connelly was brutally murdered in her van last week. In a sad irony, Connelly was killed metres from where sex workers and their allies demonstrated their support for a global…
Some people need assistance and support to express their sexuality in satisfying ways. Image from

Why the NDIS should cover the services of sex workers

Sexual expression is a fundamental part of being human, with most of us able to choose our sexual partners and, to varying degrees, meet our intimacy needs and desires. While not all people with disabilities…
The regulation of sex work needs to be based on solid evidence and with the participation of sex workers. AAP/Dean Lewins

Evidence not morality should guide sex work policy

The sexual revolution happened in the late 1960s, so it seems insane that so-called western liberal democracies still appear to have major hang-ups about sex. This is especially true when it comes to commercialised…
Support workers need better access to brothels such as this one in Melbourne, where an underaged sex worker was employed. AAP/Julian Smith

Re-opening the prostitution debate: it’s time to make women safer

France is the latest European country to aim for a “society without prostitution”. The proposal to make it a crime to purchase any sexual service (alongside Sweden, Norway and Iceland) has stimulated public…

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