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“Magistrate’s decision to deny bail places trans sex worker at risk.” WA 22 April 2016

“Magistrate’s decision to deny bail places trans sex worker at risk.” WA 22 April 2016

MEDIA RELEASE 22nd April, 2016

Scarlet Alliance, Magenta and People for Sex Worker Rights WA: “Magistrate’s decision to deny bail places trans sex worker at risk.”

A Perth magistrate has again denied bail to a sex worker charged with causing grievous bodily harm following allegations of HIV transmission. CJ, a trans woman, is currently being held in a high-security male prison. The magistrate acknowledged the risk of harm to CJ to continue her incarceration in the WA male prison, but denied her bail based on perceived risk to the community.

“Sex workers are routinely cast as either victims or predators within the media. In reality, sex workers are important members of our community and their human rights must be upheld. Magenta are concerned by the inappropriate placement of a trans woman in a male facility, resulting from the corrective services’ difficulties in dealing with trans issues and rights. This will have serious impacts on CJ’s mental and physical health.” says Josephine Rayson, Manager, Magenta, WA Sex Worker Support Service.

Safer sex practices are a mutual responsibility. When condoms, and other safer sex practices, are used the risk of HIV transmission is minimal. The fact that a sexual partner is a sex worker or their gender identity does not change that. Research demonstrates that sex workers, including HIV positive sex workers are effectively implementing safer sex practices with their clients as evidenced by the low rates of HIV amongst sex workers in Australia.

“It is clear that myths about sex workers played into the Magistrate’s decision to deny bail. CJ has maintained from the beginning that she was in a personal relationship with the complainant. It has been assumed that he was a client, because people assume that sex workers cannot have personal relationships. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, whether the complainant was a client or not, being a sex worker does not increase risk of HIV transmission” says People for Sex Worker Rights in WA spokesperson, Rebecca Davies

HIV is a public health issue and Australia’s public health response to HIV has been highly effective. Public health interventions prioritise education over punitive legal sanctions and maximise the effective engagement of affected communities.

Jules Kim, CEO of Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association, states, “Sex workers are people, and are a part of the community. Because CJ has worked as a sex worker there have been assumptions made about increased risk.” Criminalisation is not and has never been an effective public health response to HIV prevention. It does not reduce HIV transmission and the resulting stigma and discrimination undermine effective public health. Jules Kim says, “Transmission of any infection is a public health matter and must be dealt with as such. The presence of police in the bedroom serves only to increase fear and does not contribute to better health outcomes for the community. Criminal sanctions governing consensual sexual activity increase stigma and discrimination and create barriers to prevention, testing and treatment.”

For media enquiries please contact; Jules Kim, CEO Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association – 0411 985 135