Monday, March 23, 2015

Sex Workers

My new Aussie Hulu show is Satisfaction. It's about sex workers.

Sex jobs are legal in Australia. I remember learning that.  But I'd like to learn more.

Has it always been legal?

Is it legal in every state and territory?

What are the laws and limitations?

On one episode, a client twice gives the sex worker drugs. She pretends to take them and later spits them out. I'm wondering if there are rules that protect the sex worker from being pressured into taking controlled substances—either from the government or his/her place of employment.

What activities is the sex worker protected from? I mean I'm sure she's protected from someone who says, I want to slash your throat and cut you into little pieces.  But what about stuff that's less extreme than that, yet still a bit scary and/or uncomfortable.

I'm consulting Lord Wiki now.

He has a map that shows what is legal where.

In Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales, sex work is legal and regulated.

In Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory it IS legal to exchange sex for money. But brothels are illegal and the whole business is unregulated.

I personally feel the eastern states are doing the better thing.

Lord Wiki says that there was a survey done in the early 2000's, and it found that 15.6% of men had paid for sex at least once in their life.  It seems, though, that it's a certain type of man who engages in this behavior. These men are more likely to be smokers, drinkers, have STD's, multiple partners, and more likely to have lost their virginity before the age of 16.

So there goes my sweet little image of the innocent shy 22-year-old having a tender night with the prostitute as his first time.  Hey...but it could happen every so often. Not everyone is going to fit in with the statistical mold.

Lord Wiki has a list of New South Wales laws. The first one doesn't make much sense to me. It's illegal to live on the earnings from a prostitute.

Oh wait. I was thinking they meant a prostitute can't make her living with prostitution. She has to have another job. But now I'm thinking it means someone else can't make the livings off the prostitute, because then it talks about how brothel owners and managers are exempt. So I think they're talking about the...what do you call them? Johns?

No. Lord Wiki says that's the customer.

What is the person who...It's like the prostitutes' agent? Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

Never mind for now. Maybe the word will come to me later.


The rest of the laws seem valid and helpful.  No child prostitutes. No soliciting near schools, churches or hospitals. Well, those make the most sense to me.  I'm not sure I understand the point of the others. For example, it's illegal to do prostitution at places that are also used for massages, saunas, steam baths, exercise facilities, or photographic studios. Why those places?  So would it be legal to hold a sex session in the bathroom of the Taronga Zoo? The local cafe that serves Devonshire tea?

Here's something I find interesting.  In Queensland, only 10% of prostitution happens in brothels. The rest is done illegally.  It makes me wonder than about legalizing marijuana. Does that mean most people are still going to go for the illegal stuff?

I wonder if people are looked down upon for getting legalized prostitutes. Is that seen as the wimpy road?  By going for the illegal stuff, do men earn more bragging rights?

In Tasmania, it is illegal to assault a sex worker. That's good. Although isn't it illegal in most places to assault anyone?

It is also illegal to receive sex work without wearing a condom. That's probably a good rule to follow.

In Victoria, it is illegal for brothels to allow alcohol to be consumed on the premises. I imagine for some people this ruins the fun. It's probably easier to receive services from a sex worker if you're a bit intoxicated. Though you can probably just have a drink before getting to the brothel.

In Victoria, it is illegal for sex workers to be under the age of 18. It is also illegal for sex workers to be forced. I'm definitely on board with those laws.

Here's the website for the Scarlet Alliance. They're a sex worker's association.

On this page, there's a guy holding up a a sign that says, Paper or Plastic. Sex work is fantastic. What does that mean? Paper or plastic? Or did he just want something that rhymes with fantastic? But then again...he didn't really have to use the word fantastic.  Or maybe he did. Because maybe he's a big fan of the 9th Doctor.

Here's an editorial speaking out against mandatory testing of sex workers for HIV and Sexually transmitted infections.  I totally disagree with them on the issue, but I haven't started reading the editorial yet. Maybe after I read it, I'll change my mind and be on their side.

Well, one thing they talk about is how the sex workers are tested, but not the clients. Is that fair?

Maybe not.

The editorial talks about how different states have different requirements.  I'm reading all of them, but I'm not really in the mood to report on each individually.

If I'm reading this right, Victoria is the one state that requires testing.

After providing a lot of information, the writer of the editorial than says:

I argue that there is no factual basis for forcing sex workers to be tested and that the only outcomes served by this approach is the continual scapegoating of sex workers as diseased in the eyes of the general community, construction of sex workers as criminally minded and a denial of their basic civil liberties.

That argument doesn't work for me—the whole civil liberties thing. I support freedom, but I also support safety and health.

BUT then the editorial has a chart that shows the number of females with certain sex diseases, and then how many of those females are sex workers. It's not a big percentage. For example, there were 640 female cases of Gonorrhea, and only 22 of those were sex workers.  But that was just in Adelaide. What's going on in other cities? Also, I'd want to know how many of the women spread the disease to others.  Maybe the 640 spread it only their few partners, but the 22 sex workers gave it to several of their clients.  I don't know. I really don't know how that all works. I mean I know how it works. But I don't know how easy it is to spread the disease.

One thing that does kind of push me to the author's side. She points out that declaring someone disease free might cause the client to pressure the worker to engage in unsafe sexual activity.  Why do we need to use a condom? You're clean!  But if the clients not tested, it's a bit unfair. What if he's the one carrying the disease. And if the sex worker brings this up, he might say what the client said in Satisfaction when he pressured the worker to take the drugs. Do you trust me?  It would be awkward to have to say, no. I don't trust you. Sorry. Put on the condom.

I think the basic stance of the editorial is condoms...yes,

I guess I can agree with that.

It makes sense for the sake of the worker and the client. What if the client tested okay last week, but last night she contracted a disease?

Well, that's enough sex learning for me today.  But I might be inspired by the next episodes of Satisfaction to want to learn more.