As an observer of the ongoing debates in Australia's state parliaments in regard to the decriminalisation of prostitution, I hear many arguments on both sides of the story, but there is one argument missing.
Those who are proudly working in the sex industry will stridently shout that sex work is a completely acceptable form of work. To have women and men available and willing to meet the sexual needs of autonomous members of our community for a price, is a rewarding and exciting vocation. It is a profession which should be seen as any other job and have the same benefits which any other job offers. It is an industry that is determined to expand, and see its employees upheld as intelligent and reputable members of our communities.
Then there are those who are former employees of the sex industry, who are courageously standing up to inform us there is a lot very wrong inside the walls of this industry. Stories of violence, rape, coercion, degradation and STI's are horrifying and rife. We hear frightening reports of plunging safety in the suburbs which house legal brothels, with children being propositioned, and crime escalating.
Clearly, the two sides to these issues are worlds apart in their perspectives.
However, there is a perspective which I have not yet heard raised in the arguments in these debates. Another victim of the sex industry who has an entirely valid voice.
I became aware of these silent victims when I read an interview with a 54 year old veteran sex worker.
I was interested to hear what she had to say so I could understand more of her perspective. Then the bombshell came as I read:
Her preferred working hours aren't late at night but early in the morning, around sunrise, when her clients are on their way home from the night shift, or on their way to the gym, or seeking a bit of fun before their working day begins….
Then the interviewer asks:
And what would people be surprised to know about working on the street?
"That their husbands are down there every Saturday," Dawn laughs.
I immediately felt sickened reading those words and the plight of the trusting wife at home rose before me. The fact that the sex worker laughed as she said those words provoked a fierce anger in me, and feelings of frustration and incredulity at the way this is perceived as a funny joke - I was shaken to the core.
These loyal women, and sometimes men, who are deceitfully betrayed are the people who are keeping our society functioning. They are the ones who are bearing and raising children, our country's future. They endure ongoing physical, emotional and mental strain as they juggle a home, children, a job, a husband, friends - and try to remember in the craziness that they matter too. For me, it is beyond reason to think that a husband can justify his 'little bit of fun' on a Saturday morning, while his partner in life is doing the hard yards at home - particularly, as it is well known how cruelly a woman is impacted by a loved one's infidelity.
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