Submission to National Plan to End Violence Against Women 2022-2032

Scarlet Alliance submission on the National Plan to End Violence Against Women 2022-2032 on February 25, 2022.

“A number of federal and jurisdictional laws in Australia facilitate the criminalisation, police targeting, over-regulation and forced medical testing of sex workers. These laws and policies are a direct result of stigma;1 they tend to be moralistic rather than evidence-based, and create grounds for cruel and deliberate exclusion and control over sex workers in all forms of our lives because we are believed to be a social problem.

Sex workers are some of the most criminalised, villainsed, and stigmatised women in Australia. The laws, policies and social attitudes relating to sex work create circumstances in which sex workers are viewed as a threat to the morality and safety of the community, and thus must be carefully controlled. This environment emboldens individuals, organisations, and institutions to discriminate and enact violence against sex workers with the knowledge that this behaviour is socially and culturally accepted and legally sanctioned. This is conducted via a combination of marginalising, eliminating, and silencing actions that see us expending significant resources to achieve the benchmarks of human rights that ought to be presumed by all women in Australia.

The omission of sex workers from the diverse groups of women to which the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children (the Plan) turns its attention has the potential to perpetuate this violence for the life of the Plan and beyond. Gendered violence and violence against sex workers are inextricably linked; while either exists, we have failed to fully address the other.

This submission aims to assert a sex worker stakeholder presence, both within the Plan itself and in the larger Australian dialogue about gendered violence that informs such initiatives. We do this by providing the foundational rights-based approach taken by the sex worker rights movement in addressing violence in all its forms. This provides a theoretical basis for a list of concrete high-level and text-level recommendations that, if adopted in the spirt that they are presented here, will help to achieve meaningful inclusion of sex workers in the Plan and allow us to fully participate in the work to end violence against all women and children in Australia.”