Fast forward to today where teas are replaced with handcuffs, and it’s safe to say that Adelaide needs to see change and see it quickly.
Returning home evoked a myriad of emotions, which is in itself highly unusual. I feel like I have been thrown into a washing machine for a 4 hour wash and dry cycle only to come out squeaky clean yet covered in tiny little ruffles of emotions. Yes I am ruffled. This is why.
I have always been a supporter of decriminalization or at the very least, legalization. Being blessed to work from Queensland has meant that I can work within the adult industry while feeling supported by the law that surrounds me. I always felt that criminalizing the provision of sexual services was ridiculous, counterproductive and quite frankly, an idea worthy of an outdated purple perm. It is an ancient and baseless system that only serves to hurt the people it aims to ‘save’. It wasn’t until I recently went to Adelaide that I truly understood the ramifications of our legal systems for our work.
Let me be very clear… I am NOT stating within this blog that I provided sexual services while visiting Adelaide. Before I went to Adelaide for personal reasons, I launched a non sexual service that people could access if they would wish to. On arrival though, people started to contact me for sexual services… after all, that is what I do back home. And you know what was very interesting?
The differences between Brisbane and Adelaide in the way people approached me were as stark as day and night… and it made me extraordinarily sad for Adelaide.
Adelaide is a quiet yet bustling, tree lined city full of quaint stone cottages and hidden cafes. It is incredibly easy to get lost in the dizzying number of wineries scattered around its peripheries. It screams forwardness and boldness; so I find it very odd that it is a city filled with extremely conservative people and run by extremely conservative politicians.
In fact, while on uni placement I had a staff member who did not know about my job make a very flippant remark about “prostitutes” that made me realize just how much further the people and government in Adelaide need to come compared to other states in Australia.
Adelaide is in a poorer position for progressive movement with its recent change of government, although let’s be honest – it wasn’t great before either. Adelaide has had a movement for decriminalization sitting within its parliament since 2015. In July 2017 it passed the Upper House, and within the last two weeks finally started its slow chug through the next phase but updates remain mysteriously quiet. In fact, despite having this bill moving its way slowly through parliament, its law enforcement seem to be doing a sloppy backflip at odds with this bill by making multiple arrests of workers within the last 3 months. The SA Police even blocked a girl who made a post about International Whore Day today. This from a state that is fondly remembered by my friend as a place five years ago where the police would stop in for a tea at brothels to make sure the girls were OK. Fast forward to today where teas are replaced with handcuffs, and it’s safe to say that Adelaide needs to see change and see it quickly.
The argument from those for criminalization is that if the sex work is made illegal, people won’t be able to access it easily and so the industry will implode over time. Funny, I found this couldn’t be any further from the truth.
The second I hit Adelaide, my phone exploded. I wish I could write literally, I am having to refrain to write the word literally, because that is how it felt. I received around 15 x the number of enquires that I usually receive in a week in Brisbane. I was fucking swamped, and this is why.
If you put a bunch of kids in a room and tell them not to touch a remote control car in the centre of the room, what do you think they would do? Hang on, let’s rephrase this…
Someone puts a bunch of Adelaideians into a room with 10 bottles of incredibly expensive shiraz and a TV remote for live streaming of the latest Port Adelaide game… but are told to not touch anything. What do you think they do?
Me – I’d be on that shiraz like a duck to water. More of an NRL gal.
The government can’t expect that criminalization will ever work for this reason; any time you remove access to something, people just want it more. It is the same reason why the police recently came forward and admitted that the criminalization of drugs has made absolutely no impact on the war on drugs; so much so that they are planning to start trialing pill testing at festivals.
Removing access to adult services makes people want it more, and compound this with the fact that the people looking for access are lonely people looking to feel butterflies with someone else, closeness to someone else – I mean, what else do we expect people to do but seek access to that?
Adelaide’s criminalization laws also make it extremely dangerous for workers in the state. A lot of workers in criminalized regions screen clients in order to protect themselves with a variety of different security requests.
This tactic is extremely difficult in a state where clients are concerned about being caught; they sometimes feel that a deposit could incriminate them, or that a girl may get upset if it is disclosed to another worker that she has been seeing them. These concerns are totally unfounded; sex workers have always looked out by and large for each other, and ultimately we are all happy when we are all safe and OK.
Safety checks are not just great for sex workers; they are a great reassurance for clients as well. After all, if a sex worker requires this from every person that they see, then all of those people are going to be legitimate, they are much less likely to be coco loco and so the workers who see those people are much less likely to have issues and are much more likely to enjoy a working life free of drama or danger.
Despite this, people often refuse to provide these safety checks, or hell even their own names, out of unfounded fear. This means that sex workers have less information on the person before seeing them and this increases the level of danger.
Criminalisation also means that people are much more likely to turn nasty if they do not get their way… I definitely found this in Adelaide. If I messaged someone stating that I was unavailable, or I couldn’t provide what they were looking for, or I was about to leave town, the filth that came from some of their mouths honestly floored me. The fact that sex work is illegal in Adelaide means that some people feel that they can get away with treating us like shit… after all, what is a girl going to do if someone treats them badly during a booking? What are they going to do if they are verbally abused, or even physically abused, or robbed, or raped? They sure won’t be approaching the police. This is so ironic considering that protection of society is implied within law enforcement. How woeful is it that law enforcement punishes and prohibits rape, or theft, or physical violence, but yet if a worker came to them as a victim of these crimes they would also charge her? This makes me feel sick.
So come on Adelaide… enough is enough. You took me on an emotional rollercoaster for the last 4 weeks, and I fell in love with you. Despite the above, I consider you a long lost friend, a home away from home, and I am leaving a little piece of my heart in your centre. But you have to change. You have to educate yourself. You have to take your finger out of your ass and finally get that bill passed. Please, engage in this actively before you hurt more people. Be a voice that protects sex workers against judgment and criticism. We let you into our lives with open arms and tender hugs– time to return the favour.