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Scarlet Alliance and Vixen Collective Statement 18/08/21

Scarlet Alliance and Vixen Collective are disappointed with the unnecessary focus on sex work in the recent reporting on Victoria’s COVID-19 infections.

A sex worker in St Kilda was identified as one of the 24 new infections overnight in Victoria. This person came forward, got tested and since testing positive to COVID-19 has been working with health authorities.

In today's 18/08/21 Victorian Health authorities media conference emphasis was placed on the diverse range of professions of the people who had tested positive yet every headline has included sex worker. Despite only one acquaintance being linked to this case and Health Minister Foley clearly stating “no evidence of transmission occurring through sex work” much of the reporting has focused primarily on this person having worked as a sex worker. The delta strain is highly transmissible and the only linkage is geographic proximity.

Dylan O’Hara, Vixen Collective spokesperson says “Time and time again sex workers become the quick, easy and disposable targets for blame. The ‘vectors of disease’ is an old, tired cliche pulled out too often and too conveniently. Nevermind that the evidence doesn’t support this. Sex workers’ health practices are being used everyday, to protect ourselves and our communities. Stigma against sex workers undermines the truth of sex workers’ health practices.”

Sex workers have proactively responded to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, ceasing work, adapting work practices and employing risk mitigation strategies. We have a long history of effectively and responsibly responding to public health threats, as shown by sex workers’ effective response to BBV, including HIV and STI’s and in our response to COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic there have been no documented cases linked to the sex industry, however this has not stopped the inappropriate media reporting, scapegoating and the rush to blame sex work. This type of reporting increases stigma and discrimination against sex workers.

Scarlet Alliance CEO Jules Kim states, “Sex workers are members of the community and we are equally invested in wanting to see the end of lockdown, and in responding to coronavirus. What this case does highlight is the need for equitable access to support, vaccines, housing, and healthcare, for all, and accessible financial relief. This is a crisis situation for all Australians and I would hate to see the focus shift to the usual blame game on the easy targets instead of on the issues that critically need to be addressed.”

To view the 2020 report documenting the impacts of COVID-19 on sex workers in Australia, and the extensive mobilisation of sex workers and sex worker peer organisations to provide support to a community in crisis visit https://scarletalliance.org.au/library/COVID_Report

For media enquiries please contact:
Jules Kim - CEO Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association 0411 985 135
Dylan O’Hara - Spokesperson Vixen Collective, Victoria’s Peer Sex Worker Organisation 0412 368 669