"Making Sex Work" Mary Lucille Sullivan, Spinifex Press, 2007
The undersigned express concern, opposition, and great disappointment to the content and intention of "Making Sex Work" by Mary Lucille Sullivan, published by Spinifex Press. This book contains misinformation about Australian sex workers and the legal frameworks within which sex work operates, and incorrectly concludes that sex workers have and continue to suffer great harms as a result of the decriminalisation and legalisation of the sex industry in Australia. From a sex worker rights perspective, the converse is true: sex workers across Australia have witnessed immense progress in civil, human and industrial rights as a result of the recognition of sex work as work in Australia, and have enjoyed a great many benefits from this, not the least being an increased ability to participate in sex work without fear of criminal prosecution.
Sex workers, sex work advocates, and allies of sex workers, have argued for decades in Australia in favour of law reform processes, for the purpose of repealing the criminal approaches that characterised the Victorian era. Law reform processes began in the 1970's and were championed by feminists, human rights advocates, members of the judiciary, sex workers, and supporters of sex workers. These groups remain engaged in sex industry law reform today, and the process continues across Australia, with jurisdictions regularly reviewing their approach to sex work. There is still much more work to be done, but it is imperative to recognise that Australia leads the world and has come a long way since the days of paper-bag pay-offs for police.
Mary Sullivan's book does not recognise the important role sex worker communities and the supporters of sex workers have played in driving law reform debates in Australia. This is illustrated by her lack of consultation with the sex worker groups she refers to in her book. Sex worker groups, projects, networks and organisations in Australia and around the world have a right to expect accurate and non-malicious representations of their work to be maintained, particularly in academic contexts such as PhD Thesis. Mary Lucille Sullivan’s educational institution, Melbourne University, and her supervisor, Sheila Jeffreys, must take some responsibility for this, as well as Spinifex Press, the publisher of "Making Sex Work." As sex worker groups are one of the primary targets of Mary Lucille Sullivan's book one would expect that these groups would have been formally interviewed. That they were not calls into question Mary Lucille Sullivan's intentions and ethics. The sex worker advocates that are quoted in interview with Mary Lucille Sullivan were interviewed so long ago it is impossible that they would have been aware the interviews would be use to prop up Mary Lucille Sullivan's thesis. Mary Lucille Sullivan has in no way tested, challenged or proven her own thesis - by choosing not to allow sex worker groups to participate she conveniently silenced any opportunity sex workers had of having a voice in her work. There is no practical barrier to Mary Lucille Sullivan choosing to accurately represent sex workers - sex worker organisations are transparent and open entities that participate in research regularly. The sex worker networks, groups, organisations and projects that are extensively misquoted and misrepresented by Mary Lucille Sullivan in her book now request a formal right of reply to her case.
We the undersigned express great concern at the increased stigma, discrimination, vilification, and potential curtailing of sex workers' civil, human and industrial rights that may potentially occur as a result of Mary Lucille Sullivan's book. Her work must be recognised as a form of written hate crime against sex workers, an incitement to limit sex worker rights, a deliberate and methodical silencing of sex worker voices, and deserves to be critiqued as such. We urge the thinking public to understand this book within a continuum of anti-sex work rhetoric that is itself a root cause of violence against sex workers.
Signed: Angela, Laura María Agustín, Senior Research Officer: "Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry," Institute for the Study of European Transformations (ISET)', London Metropolitan University, Elise Archer, Alison Arnot-Bradshaw, Julie Bates, Planning & Health Consultants, Urban Realists, Laura Bondeson, Nicolette Burrows, Sex Worker & Harm Reduction Education Worker, Jenn Clamen, Mobilisation Co-ordinator, on behalf of Stella, http://www.chezstella.org, Kate DeMaere, Research Assistant, National Centre HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, UNSW, Candi Forrest, Janelle Fawkes, Manager, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association, http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/, Jenni Gamble, Manager, Sex Industry Network, Project of the AIDS Council of South Australia, http://www.sin.org.au/, Melissa Gira, Development Director of the St James Infirmary http://www.stjamesinfirmary.org/ , and Board Member of the Desiree Alliance http://www.desireealliance.org/, Sharn Gokalp, Andrew Hunter, on behalf of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, http://www.apnsw.org.au, Elena Jeffreys, President, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association, http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/, Louise Lindon, Ana Lopes, President, The International Union of Sex Workers, http://www.iusw.org/, Tantra-Man, norrie mAy-welby, currently employed in sex worker health, previously self-employed as sex worker, Jackie McMillan, Leesa Morgan, Letisha Norris, Cheryl Overs, Ms Lynda Pearl, humanitarian activist, Roberta Perkins, Dhanu River, MSc Health Science (Sexual Health), Sexual health educator and long-term sex worker, Tabitha, VIXEN (Victorian Sex Industry Network), Alina Thomas, Immediate Past President, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association, http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/, Petra Timmerman, International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers In Europe, ICRSE, http://www.sexworkeurope.org, Touching Base, http://www.touchingbase.org, Ashkara Sands, sex worker activist, Western Australia, www.members.iinet.net.au/~ashkara, Lek Souns, Empower Foundation, Thailand http://empowerfoundation.org/, Sex Workers Outreach Project, Australias Capital Territory, Project of the AIDS Action Council of Australias Capital Territory http://www.aidsaction.org.au/swop/index.php, Sex Worker Outreach Project, Darwin, Northern Territory, Project of the Northern Territory AIDS Council, Rachel Wotton, New South Wales, Australia, Zi Teng, Sex Worker Concerned Organisation in Hong Kong http://www.ziteng.org.hk/