Scarlet News:

“South Australia Red Umbrella Event” Friday June 6th 2008, 5pm

Jun 2, 2008 | Media release, News

As Part of International Whores Day, SIN is proud to support a red umbrella event.

Sex workers, health workers, sex industry supporters and their friends and families will take to the streets. Dressed in costumes and wigs and carrying red umbrellas and placards, the group will be marching down Fullarton Road Norwood, from The Parade to the Payneham Road intersection, to celebrate International Whores Day.

International Whores Day celebrates the birth of the sex worker rights movement. In Lyons France in 1976, sex workers staged a "church sit in" to protest police brutality and the lack of police attention to crimes against sex workers. Soon community members joined the sex workers and challenged the police to distinguish who is and who isn’t a sex worker, making it difficult for the police to make arrests. This is widely considered to be the birth of the sex workers rights movement.

The word "Whore" has been used as an insult usually towards women, but actually just describes a person who exchanges sex for money. Australian sex workers are actively reclaiming the word and using it to describe themselves. This is much the same as the gay and lesbian community have reclaimed the word "queer". The aim of reclaiming a word such as "whore" is to take away the negative connotations.

Australia has an impressive record in promoting sexual health and preventing transmission of HIV in the sex industry. Using community development strategies, peer education, outreach and by offering a holistic, empowering and confidential health service, the sex worker rights movement and health services have ensured that Australian sex workers enjoy on average better sexual health than the general public and outstanding success in preventing the transmission of HIV in the Australian sex industry. This is not the case anywhere else in the world. Today we celebrate this massive achievement.

SIN actively challenge stereotypes about sex workers and the sex industry. We acknowledge that sex work is real employment and as such sex workers must have access to appropriate occupational health and safety standards. Sex workers are much more likely to embrace a community based service that they can identify with, that affirms their choices and actively works to reduce their experience of stigma and discrimination.

The South Australian Sex Industry Network (SIN) is a service by sex workers for sex workers. Our beginnings are with the Prostitutes Association of South Australia (PASA) which was founded in 1986 as a reaction to police harassment of sex workers in Adelaide brothels. PASA quickly became an active and vocal sex worker rights group advocating for progressive law reform and other issues aimed at improving sex workers’ lives. A key issue impacting upon sex workers at this time was HIV and in 1989, PASA and the AIDS Council of South Australia (ACSA) began to work together to provide HIV/AIDS health promotion to the sex worker community.

This year join with sex workers, health workers, sex industry supporters, friends and family to celebrate the success of Australian sex workers in maintaining high standards of sexual health and HIV prevention as part of the struggle for overall health, rights and wellbeing!