Scarlet News:

Salvation Army again exploits discrimination of sex workers for financial gain

Jun 1, 2016 | Media release, News

The Salvation Army has once again perpetuated discrimination against sex workers in order to make money. This has happened too many times.

In 2009, the Salvation Army capitalised on the discrimination of sex workers through a stigmatising promotion for their Red Shield Appeal. After protests and a threat of a “red ban”, the Salvation Army were forced to publically apologise and withdraw their ads about “Rick”, an alleged sex worker they had rescued.

Unfortunately this didn’t last long, as the Salvation Army were back at it again in 2016 with more offensive fundraising materials that has angered not just sex workers but also breached Mental Health reporting guidelines. Printed on their donations envelope was a picture of a crying girl with the captions, “My mother was a prostitute. She’d lock me in the bathroom. So I started cutting myself. I was 5…”

Following outrage from sex workers and supporters throughout social media, Salvation Army entered into negotiations with the Sex Workers Outreach Project NSW (SWOP NSW), Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association and their members throughout Australia.

CEO of Scarlet Alliance, Jules Kim explains, "Scarlet Alliance was undergoing negotiations in good faith with the Salvation Army. We had significant issues about not just the offensive vilification of sex workers they were using for fundraising promotions, but the fact that they were doing it again. This time it was understandable that sex workers wanted more than an apology. We wanted assurances that they had taken measures to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.”

After protracted discussions on the form of the apology and retraction to be issued, no retraction was issued and the apology that was issued as a media release did not meet the criteria that had been agreed. Not only did they continue to distribute the offensive material, but they also failed to understand the nature of sex worker complaints and in doing so they issued, without the promised consultation, replacement material more disgusting than the original.

“I guess they must have figured that sex workers wouldn’t find out about it because we aren’t part of the community, and in any case it didn’t matter. When it comes to sex workers, obviously the Salvos finds it acceptable to continue to vilify, stigmatise and exploit us for financial gain." said Jules Kim.

According to Cameron Cox, sex worker and CEO of SWOP NSW, “In stigmatising sex workers the Salvos campaign crosses a very important line. Organisations that stigmatise the very people that they purport to help do so at their own risk. Not only will NSW sex workers be unlikely to utilise Salvos services in times of need, sex workers and their supporters, will also be less likely to donate or collect for this charity.”

Tomorrow June 2 on International Sex Worker Day, sex workers and allies will be protesting outside the Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters in Redfern at 4PM to send a message that sex workers are part of the community and our voices count.



Scarlet Alliance & SWOP NSW invite you to stand in solidarity with sex workers.

We don’t need your pity, we need our rights.

“The Salvation Army has again exploited stigma against sex workers in order to make money. This has happened too many times. We have been having ongoing negotiations in good faith with the Salvos and they have made a public apology and stated they would no longer use offensive depictions of sex workers. Obviously their words are meaningless because they have continued to use this material during their doorknock appeal this weekend was STILL online 31 May 2016. Their fundraising materials state that sex workers are bad parents who abuse our children and continue to call us prostitutes.

“Sex workers are members of the community. We will be gathering outside the Salvation Army headquarters, 261-265 Chalmers St, Redfern on International Whores Day 2nd June, 2016 at 4pm. Please come to show your support for sex workers and send a message to the Salvation Army that exploitation of sex workers is unacceptable and sex workers voices count!”

  • Who: All welcome, sex workers, allies & media
  • When: International Sex Worker Day, 2nd June, 2016 at 4:00pm
  • What: Event begins at 4pm, Speakers at 4:30pm
  • Where: Salvation Army Headquarters, 261-265 Chalmers St, Redfern