Project Respect doors closing unless something miraculous happens

Project Respect is a Melbourne based support service for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women in the sex industry. On March 16, Project Respect released this statement with “a heavy heart” via email and a social media post, informing their community and supporters they will be closing their doors in a month unless “there is a miraculous response to this letter.”

“Project Respect has survived by hard work, good will and financial support by many organisations and individuals (for 17 years) however, without funding which is sustainable, we will have to close on the 15th April 2016.”

In a 2015 interview with Emma Alberici on Lateline, Kate Connett, who before becoming an outreach worker for Project Respect, was a sex worker on the streets to support her heroin habit from age 17 to 23, speaks of how vital these services are for women and why they are so desperately needed,

“I think nearly every single woman I have worked with at Project Respect has gone into the sex industry because of financial hardship. All women are there for the money, they’re not there for the sex, they’re not there because they enjoy having sex with men, they are there to get the money… Homelessness is a huge issue. We find many women that are homeless. We find a lot of women that sleep in brothels which is illegal, so I guess it’s kind of hidden homelessness in women.”

(Every month Kate visits legal brothels, offering support to women.) … and says it is “quite typical that in all Asian brothels one woman will speak for all the women and just kind of take over, and it’s very hard to kind of get in and speak to individually to women in Asian brothels. Outreach can be really difficult, actually, because sometimes you are met with really volatile people.

“We meet women constantly who have been either raped or beaten. Currently working with a woman at the moment who is pregnant due to a client raping her. I don’t think legalisation works. I don’t think decriminalisation works either. Again, it hasn’t stopped the incidence of violence.”

The Nordic model which looks at criminalising the buyers which are predominantly men and making it legal for people to sell sex which is predominantly women, I think so far that’s the best option that I’ve seen come out. What girl, what young girl goes, “I want to be a prostitute when I’m older”? What young girl ever has that aspiration? What mother ever wants their child to become a prostitute when they are older? It’s not a dream job for anybody.” (Transcript and Video here)

The work of organisations like Project Respect is vital to the Nordic Model of prostitution. Vital to supporting women in the sex industry with the availability of exit programs.

Project Respect works in three ways:

* One, we assist women one-on-one and help them access essential services – such as healthcare and legal representation. We support women in making police reports, gaining child custody, even applying for jobs in a new industry. While many community organisations become targeted, offering just one service, Project Respect remains broad. Led entirely by the needs of women, we place no limits on the length or type of support offered. At the centre of our support work is regular outreach, where we visit brothels in Victoria. We do this so women know we are available to them – without judgement – should they need us.

* We also connect women together, supporting them to support one another, in their shared experiences. Intense stigma around the sex industry means it can be isolating. Through community lunches and weekends away we nurture a safe, non-judgemental and supportive network. For many women, Project Respect is simply and powerfully about belonging. It their place to be. Outside the mainstream, in these rare spaces, women are understood, welcomed, and finally treated with respect.

* Lastly, we advocate for women’s rights against violence, trafficking and exploitation. To improve life for women in the sex industry, we must improve the status of women overall. That’s why we work directly with all levels of government, lobbying for broad policy change. We argue for better conditions for women while they are in the sex industry. We argue against the trafficking of women. We help expose violence against women, and push for solutions to eradicate it. In all of this work, we ensure women’s voices are heard. We offer women a platform to write, speak and meet directly with decision makers. We know that their voices and leadership will create the positive change we seek.

At Project Respect, we believe that all women have the right to feel safe and respected. We are fundamentally for and about women – supporting their entire life and future potential. To achieve a world free from sexual exploitation we are committed to doing what others can’t.

project respect

Ways to help:

Donate – “Just like you, we aren’t ready to give up without a fight! If you feel the same way about Project Respect, then please donate to us via our GoFundMe campaign.
Share – “Please spread the campaign as far and wide as you can, and Help Save Project Respect!” – Project Respect

 

See also:

* The Government must fund services like Project Respect for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women inside the sex industry in Australia.

* Expunging prostitution convictions essential for those exiting the sex trade – Simone Watson, Director NORmac

#ThankaFeminist Australia 2015

thankafeminist

*BRISSC celebrated 40 years of ongoing work and support for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and incest along with Women’s House in Brisbane in 2015, with their work extending into the community. We would also like to thank BRISSC for:

*Caroline Norma, lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Many thanks for:

*Celeste Liddle, “Arrernte, feminist, hard left, trade unionist, with a taste for protopunk”, a big thank you for:

*Collective Shout, grassroots campaigns movement mobilising and equipping individuals and groups to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services. Many thanks for:

*Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence celebrated 25 years of service in 2015, a big thank you also this year for:

*Janet Fraser, National Convenor of the Australian Homebirth Network, Joyous Birth, committed to community birth education, birth activism, supporting women and families in healing from birth trauma, blogger and feminist activist, big thanks for inspiring #ThankaFeminist 2015 and many blessings for:

  • Her social media campaigning, writing and feminist analysis
  • Her home birthing advocacy and Anti-obstetrics violence campaigning, including being a speaker at the Mother of all Mothers of Rallies in Canberra in June 2015
  • Speaker and attendee of grassroots protests for women’s liberation, including the Sydney leg of the global women-led protests against AI’s ‘sex work’ policy, October 2015.
  • Her continued support of other feminist actions to end MVAW, and liberate women, including being feminist queen of the sharpie pen.

*Laura McNally, a psychologist, researcher, author and PhD candidate, chair of the Australian branch of Endangered Bodies and provides social commentary on issues related to gender inequality, many thanks for:

*Liz Waterhouse, founder of listeningtolesbians, member and contributor of Women Shout Out Australia and Reclaim The Night Perth. A big thank you for:

*Mairi Voice, writing and sharing articles and interesting news with radical feminist analysis, a big thank you for:

  • Writing and advocacy for the Nordic model of prostitution, including: Why the Nordic Model is Safest for Women, addressing a number of issues raised in the ‘prostitution debate’.
  • Critiquing the downfalls of liberal feminism in Australia: Liberal Feminism and the Prostitution Debate, drawing from the reading of ‘Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler (2015).
  • A supportive, informative Social media community and continued support of other feminist actions to end MVAW, and liberate women.

*Meagan Tyler, Research Fellow, RMIT University. Member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA). Many thanks for:

*Paula Orbea, founder of Questions for Us and the Wicked Campers campaign, educator, blogger, feminist activist and co-founder of Boycott Wicked Campers , A big thank you for:

*Radfem Groundhog Day, “Rather than re-invent the wheel, this passage by Mary Daly (from a talk at UCLA in 1987), pretty much says it all…” Many thanks for:

*Reclaim the Night Perth, For a world without male-pattern violence and control over women and children, a big thank you for:

*Simone Watson, director of NORmac; survivor led advocates for the Nordic model Australia, and feminist activist, many thanks for:

*Wicked Pickets, A community action to extend anti vilification law to include ‘sex’ as a ground for complaint. Race religion sexuality gender identity are already covered. Many thanks for:

thankafeminist

Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

Human rights group Amnesty International’s (AI) 2015 policy on ‘sex work’ advocates for pimps and johns rights to buy and sell women for ‘sex’ by calling on countries to decriminalise all aspects of the sex industry.

This is as opposed to the Nordic model of prostitution, which implements the full decriminalisation of prostituted people hand in hand with support services and exit programs, while criminalising the pimps and johns who create the demand for, and profit from, this highly gendered and inherently violent and degrading ‘industry’.

Amnesty money does not equal consentIn 2014, an AI draft policy was leaked revealing AI’s future intentions to endorse the full decriminalisation of the sex industry, including the pimps and johns. During a Q & A that followed, the Director of AI UK said, “in an imperfect world many women end up in ‘sex work’ as an economic last resort“. As an economic last resort, there is no choice, choice implies other choices to choose from. As an economic last resort Money Does Not Equal Consent.

The most vulnerable women and girls will be the ones affected by such policies because they are the ones being funneled through the sex industry. Poor women, abused women, addicted women, homeless women, women of colour.

Why is AI endorsing vulnerable women and girls being prostituted as a means of survival, instead of the Nordic approach with support services and exit programs; rehabilitation, mental health services, housing, educational and job training, etc, to give these women real choices and a supportive environment to succeed in?

AI’s 2014 leaked draft policy gives us a bit of an idea, showing a lot of concern for the men who buy prostituted women and girls for ‘sex’ (removed from the 2015 policy): Continue reading