QLD prostitutes want protection
Queensland sex workers say current laws force them to decide between working legally and working safely.
In Queensland, it is legal to work in a licensed brothel or to offer sexual services from the home.
But for those who work outside of brothels, there are a number of restrictions that sex workers say leave them vulnerable.
Independent sex workers cannot employ someone to answer their phone, do bookings together, share a workspace in the same building, message each other about their location, clients or timetable, share a driver or even talk about the services they provide.
It means that any workers who want to protect themselves by letting their colleagues know where and when they are working are forced to break the law.
The legal framework also means police are functioning as the industry regulator.
Respect - an advocacy group run by sex workers – wants a decriminalisation model that would take police out of that regulatory role.
“The majority of people simply cannot work within the limitations of the laws or cannot achieve getting a licence,” says Respect spokesperson Janelle Fawkes.
“As a result, most of us, each day, have to make the decision between working legally or working safely.”
She said decriminalisation in New Zealand and New South Wales had a positive effect on health and safety by making sex workers more likely to report crimes.
“More importantly, police are more likely to take those claims seriously and the court handles sex work matters more fairly,” Ms Fawkes said.
Official figures suggest illegal sex work is being more heavily policed, with prostitution-related offences increasing from 61 to 96 in 2016-17.
“We know that there is increased policing from feedback from sex workers and we feel that this government needs to take on board that these laws are putting sex worker safety at risk,” Ms Fawkes said.
Queensland’s Police Minister Mark Ryan says the government has no plans to decriminalise sex work, and that current regulations were drafted with the safety of workers in mind.
“All Queenslanders must abide by the law,” he said through a spokesperson.