10/7/02 Prostitution group rejects 'victims' tag

Australia's sex industry workers are angry about the declaration of an international 'No Prostitution Day'.

Today's inaugurual event was declared by the United States feminist and prostitution survivors' group, Escape, and was celebrated in Australia with a conference in Melbourne. Escape called on men not to seek sex services today but to still give money to prostitutes so their income would not be affected.

Janelle Fawkner from the sex workers' group Scarlett Alliance says feminists are portraying prostitutes as victims when many have entered the profession by choice. "They are making decisions and choices for sex workers not based on the experiences of sex workers or based on the reality of the sex industry," she said. "A lot of people, in order to understand sex work, have had to place sex workers in the role of victim. That's certainly not the case in Australia."

But the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, which hosted today's anti-prostitution conference, says the industry should be stamped out. Spokeswoman Shelia Jeffries says she doubts women desire to become prostitutes. "I don't think women out of the clear, blue sky very often decide would 'I like to be a university lecturer or would I like to be in prostitution'." "We find in research on prostitution 80 to 90 per cent of women interviewed in all of the research that is done said they would like to be out." 

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