Current and Former ‘Sex Workers’ Form Coalition against Sex Trade

A coalition between current and formerly prostituted people has formed in Australia. Calling themselves SURVIVORS WEST AUSTRALIA AGAINST PROSTITUTION (SWAAP), the group are based mainly in the regional and rural west. The group has responded to a recent article in an annex of The West Australian newspaper, The Albany Advertiser which published an article about a brothel raid by the Australian Border Force (ABF) in which two women, aged 61 and 56 from China, were arrested for breaching visa conditions and “organising sex workers”. An anonymous “former” pimp contacted the Albany Advertiser to give his opinion on regulating brothels claiming he had been tipped off about the raid, appeared to support it, and yet claimed prostitution was a necessity.

albany advertiser brothel raid resized 2019

SWAAP were published anonymously in an opinion piece and have given permission for it to be transcribed and the name of their group to be shared The piece was originally published in the Food For Thought section of edition No.9 of Voice of the South The piece reads in full :

” We need to talk. We are a group comprised of current and former sex workers. Most of us require anonymity due to repercussions from former pimps and prostitution lobbyists. Most of us also require treatment for PTSD. Since the raid on a brothel in Albany we feel we have an obligation to speak out. Should women be corralled like cattle in to regulated areas so men can use us for sex? According to a former pimp quoted in the Albany Advertiser thats exactly what should happen. To this former pimp its a “necessity” particularly for “lonely” men and Albany is being over-run by independent sex workers just dying to get our hands them. He can’t make a living off our backs anymore. Does your heart bleed for him? Ours do not.

When we talk about paying women for sex, we are not talking about loneliness we are talking about sexual entitlement. Loneliness can not be eliminated by entitlement. Intimacy can never be bought. The fact is, the best time for us is when we get to wash the men off us, each and every one. We tolerate these men at best. Sometimes that makes them angry, but most don’t care.

Others say that if men don’t get sex they will commit sexual assault, as if we exist to mitigate violence. The assertion that lonely widowers, or anyone for that matter, need sex is preposterous. Its offensive to women and its also offensive to men, because most men do not buy women for sex, nor do they rape if they don’t get it. They think better of themselves, and women.

When prostitution is exposed a community may ask what should be done about it.

There are strong opinions on this and they fit roughly into two camps: those who want it prohibited and those who think that decriminalising it,( like marijuana, for example), will make it safer.

The problem is neither of these approaches work .

Prohibition makes us unsafe. As current and former sex workers we know arrest is something men hold over our heads, the reason being its easier to arrest one woman than it is to arrest the buyers. There are far more of them than there are of us.

But decriminalisation of prostitution, (unlike decriminalising marijuana, whatever your view on that) leads to expansion of exploitation and trafficking. Also, making it a legitimate job means we have no support to exit prostitution.

As one of our members states, “ Everybody hates a trafficker, but not enough to stop the buyers.”

Often overlooked in discussions, is the Nordic or Equality Model. This legislation does not corrall us into darkness or ‘tolerated’ areas. It decriminalises us, offers comprehensive support to get out, and sometimes access to citizen status if we’ve been trafficked. It criminalises the buyers and the profiteers. It’s amazing how quickly a man can turn off his explosive sexual “need” when a fine is held over his head. Its also amazing how quickly traffickers find they’ve met their match.

As a group we face fierce backlash from organisations which claim they are proud “sex workers”, not victims. We also face this from well-meaning people who have never been in prostitution, mainly because they listen to such groups. It is not the fault of the broader public that they are fed propaganda which serves the sex industry. Groups that claim to be run by sex workers are government funded and do little to help us except lobby to decriminalise prostitution.

While police may exercise discretion in applying laws, they can only work within the legal framework we as a community help shape.

The Equality Model is the best human rights practice we have so far. We regret calling for decriminalisation. We refuse to listen to ‘sex work is work’ jargon and we also reject we should be punished. Few people talk about the men who buy us and why they are entitled to do so. We ask that you think about those men and this tacit acceptance. Such attitudes are reflected in the rape culture we experience all together. We as community can help end this cultural injustice. We begin by listening to survivors.

SWAAP says it’s aim is to dispel myths around the inevitability of prostitution and counter propaganda disseminated by government funded groups, such those carrying the insignia of the red umbrella. A spokesperson stated, ” Scarlet Alliance, Vixen, SIN, all that lot….They don’t help us and they don’t represent us. They just use the claim that they are sex workers to lobby for decriminalization.”

The group can be contacted through their new Facebook page :

For those currently or formerly in the sex trade who want to get active ( in whatever way they can, no pressure) for the Nordic/Equality Model- messages can be left on 0436 285 367. Confidentiality assured.

Journalists are also welcome to contact SWAAP in the knowledge that we are political, and not partial to sharing horror stories for clickbait. Most of our members are anonymous and wish to remain that way.

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