Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Let's End Violence Against Sex Workers!

OK so this week I was reading a story in the news and became really mad. This happens a lot, but usually because I'm mad at the misrepresentation of facts in regards to politics. But this week I was horribly mad about the difference in public opinion when a woman is murdered based on her occupation. The story I read basically pointed out two Australian cases – one being Jill Meagher's death and that of a prostitute.

For those that aren’t familiar with these particular cases, the brief synopsis is that when Jill Meagher (a twenty-something married professional) went missing in Melbourne there were hundreds that turned out to search for her. When it turned out she had been raped & killed there was all manner of public outrage & a call for harsher punishments for those who re-offend (her killer had already served time for rape). However, a 40 year old prostitute was brutally murdered recently (in the same city) and it barely made the news – the article about it was only 3 paragraphs & only contained the police statement – no outrage, no calls for harsher penalties, no long winded articles about her family & friends.

To me, that is ridiculous. The only real difference I can find between these women is the fact that one worked in an office job & one worked as a prostitute. In Australia prostitution is legal, it is a valid way to make a living. I know some people don't agree with prostitution because of religious or personal reasons, in fact I know women who disagree with prostitution because they don’t want their husbands to be tempted to visit them (and I think wow, how little faith they must have in the partners fidelity!!).

Personally, I don’t get why everybody hates on them. Obviously somebody uses their service – and I mean, most people watch porn which isn’t terribly different. I see no reason why anyone should be intimidated or feel threatened by them. Not everyone visits a prostitute, just like not everyone goes scuba diving. But still, there are those that can't see past their hate & a feeling that prostitution is 'yucky'.

Regardless of your feelings about prostitution, it is simply not acceptable to say "this is a perfectly legal career option, but I'm gonna discriminate against you because it's yucky". Sex workers deserve the right to be safe in their career & to not fear for their lives – just like anybody else. An important part of modern society is the fact that we try to help and protect the most vulnerable people – children, the disabled, the elderly, pregnant women etc. If anything we need to be giving these women far more support considering the high rate of violence against them. If office workers had the same abuse statistics it would be addressed instantly! But for some reason these women are not extended the same outrage as Jill Meagher, just because their jobs are lower down the social ladder.

So what am I trying to achieve by writing this post? Well, I want you to be aware the we are failing our sisters, daughters & wives. We are telling them that in the modern age they can do whatever they want with their bodies – but that we will discriminate against them if they choose to do something less mainstream like becoming a prostitute. Think how you would feel if your sister, wife, mother or daughter was faced with the same kind of risk as a prostitute. Would you simply say “too bad, it's gross”? Or would you fight for them to be safe & treated with respect?

I encourage you to throw your prejudices away (who needs 'em!) and embrace those women in society that NEED and WANT your help! Be an awesome person & support the campaign to end violence against sex workers! Click here for an Australian article about a global campaign to end violence against sex workers.