Sex in the city is on the move

Magenta manager Max Taylor said street-based sex workers were operating in different areas after police operations focused on workers in Highgate last year.

‘There were an extensive number of move-on notices issued by police in the last year, but we know that street-based sex work continues,’ she said.

‘It is dispersed but it also continues in that area.’

Ms Taylor said that a corresponding decrease in complaints about sex workers in Highgate ” as reported by the Express after the City of Vincent decided to continue its practice of naming convicted offenders ” was the result of sex workers trying to avoid police detection.

A recent City of Vincent report said since last August, when the council first listed names of convicted offenders on its website, the number of complaints ‘had reduced to almost nil’.

‘I think that it is indicative of sex workers visibly operating less in the local streets, where most of the resident complaints were generated, especially during the day time,’ she said.

‘The police crackdown resulted in sex workers changing the pattern of how they work to avoid detection.’

Ms Taylor said this behaviour could be risky for sex workers, their clients and partners of both.

‘When sex workers are dispersed, it means that people work in isolation, which means that you do not have anybody to look out for you, and keep an eye on your safety and who you get in a car with,’ she said.

‘It also means there is less time available for the worker to assess the safety of a situation because sex workers will hurry to get into a car to avoid police detection.

‘Condoms are also less likely to be carried because they are used by police as contributing evidence that sex work is about to take place. This has wide ranging repercussions for the health of sex workers, their clients and for the partners of both of those groups.’

Ms Taylor said it was important for police and law makers to recognise the importance of the national health policy of harm minimisation when legislating around sex work.

‘If we are encouraging people to use condoms to protect themselves and others, but the same people are stopped by police for carrying condoms ” what kind of message does this give?’ she said.

Opinion page 8