Just before Christmas, the Andrews Government announced that it would provide $300,000 in funding to a controversial organisation designed to tackle trafficking in the adult industry.
Project Respect, an organisation designed to support women trafficked for sexual exploitation, has proved controversial amongst sex worker groups for its support of the Nordic Model – a set of laws designed to criminalise the purchase of sexual services.
Scarlett Alliance, the association of sex workers in Australia, has in the past described Project Respect as an ‘anti sex worker lobby’. In a joint statement with The Vixen Collective, a Victorian peer-only sex worker organisation, Scarlett Alliance noted that there was a “continuing history of sex worker protests against Project Respect in Australia, specifically because of its treatment of sex workers, its policies, and support of the ‘Swedish’ or ‘Nordic’ Model.”
On its website, Project Respect argues that the sex industry ‘strengthens and reinforces’ gender-based inequality. Project Respect’s Chair Christine Craik has stated that government funding would ‘improve the organisations understanding of issues and challenges faced by women in the sex industry’.
The Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos, described the purpose of the funding move as ‘ensuring that sex workers and victims of trafficking get the help they need without fear of stigma or discrimination’.
However, sex workers do not share their optimism: “Project Respect only wants to help me if I stop working” says Alice, a Victorian brothel-based sex worker, “I’d like to access services that can actually help me and be free from their opinions”.
Written by guest writer: Jarryd Bartle
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