Last week media reported the release of a man who has been granted parole after serving two and a half years for the manslaughter of Jingai Zhang, and the sentencing of a man for a 10-year prison term with a non-parole period of 6 years and 9 months for the manslaughter of Kimberley McRae.
“Media reporting on crimes committed against sex workers often perpetuates stereotypes that implicitly or explicitly blames us when we are the victim of a crime,” Mish Pony, sex worker and CEO of Scarlet Alliance said today. “Sex workers regularly face barriers to accessing justice and reporting crimes against us due to the stigma and discrimination that our work is to blame.”
Sex workers are worthy of the same rights and protections as those working in other professions. Decriminalisation of sex work, anti-discrimination and anti-villification protections, the recognition of sex work as work, and peer support and community connection are essential to a society free of violence against sex workers.
Research by Scarlet Alliance into the reasons sex workers choose not to report crimes include:
- Sex workers anticipated myths and stereotypes about their perceived rapeability in judicial decision-making.
- Sex workers don’t contact the police because they anticipate boeing subjected to further trauma
- Media reporting on cases involving sex workers disincentivises reporting
- Sex workers reported a lack of trust in police, lack of faith in the system and little to no perceived likelihood of a just outcome in court.
Earlier in the year SWOP NSW, Scarlet Alliance and sex workers expressed anger at the decision by the courts to pursue manslaughter charges instead of murder for the death of Kimberly McRae.
“Given what we know about how media, stigma, fear of police mistreatment and doubts about a fair court case are barriers to reporting crime, it is deeply regrettable these patterns have somewhat repeated with the deaths of two colleagues recently,” Mish Pony concluded.
Scarlet Alliance recognises the impact this has on our communities, and encourages people affected by this news to reach out to the supports listed below.
SWOP NSW: (02) 9184 9466 and online
Scarlet Alliance lutruwita (Tasmania) Sex Worker Project: 0481 264 925 or CALD outreach 0402 661 899
QLife (3pm to midnight): 1800 184 527 and webchat