Scarlet Alliance submission to the Select Committee on Temporary Migration’s inquiry into Temporary Migration on July 26, 2020.
“Sex workers, like other workers, migrant internationally for a variety of reasons, including seeking improved working conditions and income. Evidence and feedback from our membership indicate that wage theft, breaches of workplace rights and conditions, modern slavery, and human trafficking is not the experience of the vast majority of migrant sex workers in Australia. However, while labour exploitation and human trafficking is not characteristic of the sex industry, migrant sex workers experience major barriers to accessing the same workplace health and safety mechanisms and industrial rights protections as workers in other industries, including:
- Migrant sex workers’ complaints about breaches to our workplace rights and conditions are not taken seriously due to stigmatising attitudes about sex work and/or the complaint not fitting into the category of trafficking.
- Privacy concerns regarding connecting our legal name to sex work when accessing existing services and mechanisms to address workplace issues.
- Criminalisation creating major impediments for sex workers to access support and existing mechanisms to address exploitative workplace conditions as reporting may result in being charged, known to the authorities as a sex worker, and/or deported. Criminalisation also creates obstacles to ensuring that Australia’s labour rights framework is equally applied to sex industry workplaces.
- Anti-trafficking responses that conflate sex work and all labour exploitation in the sex industry with human trafficking have jeopardised migrant sex workers’ support and safety structures, workplaces, and undermined efforts to address labour exploitation. It has heightened sex workers’ distrust of the authorities and further deters sex workers from seeking assistance in fear that it will result in further scrutiny, prosecution, or deportation.
- Anti-trafficking responses that focus on restrictive immigration scrutiny and criminal justice approaches have made it more difficult for sex workers to travel, operate within the regulated sex industry, and access support.