A group of Melbourne sex workers have organised Australia's first ever Festival of Sex Work.
Beginning on Saturday 26 May concluding with International Whores Day, Saturday 2 June 2012, the festival is a celebration of the lives, skills, culture and community of sex workers, and will include a number of different events. Some of these events will be for sex workers only, whilst others will be open to the public.
The Festival of Sex Work is being organised by Vixen, a group run by and for sex-workers in Victoria, and the festival organising committee is 100% comprised of current and former sex workers. Vixen member, Tabitha, says: “We are a diverse group of workers who share one common goal – we want to speak out against the stigma associated with sex work. We're tired of other people thinking they have the right to speak for us, or thinking they know what we think or feel. We hope this festival will provide sex workers with a safe space to meet and share ideas, and we will also be sending a strong message out to the wider community – let us speak for ourselves because we know what is best for us!”
Despite the fact that Melbourne was the first place in the world to fund a sex worker organisation, the current situation in Victoria is that the government only gives money to services that have a vested interest in portraying sex workers as a health issue or exploited victims that need rescuing. “And they are loath to employ sex workers, making it rare that the community or government listen to voices at the centre of sex work.” Vixen member, Christian Vega, added. “The Festival is our opportunity to challenge this. We want to show that we are organised and that it is a blatant injustice that we are relegated to the sidelines when it comes to the discourse and decision making about sex work in our state.”
The Festival of Sex Work is created solely by the volunteer efforts and resources of sex workers themselves, working with no corporate sponsorship or government funding.
The Festival of Sex Work strives to challenge stereotypes. It aims to be a safe space for sex workers and their allies, one that protects human rights and respects the diverse perspectives and experiences of sex workers. The festival will be held over a number of different locations and will include public forums, an art exhibition and a screening of Walkley award nominated documentary 'Scarlet Road'.
For more information please visit our website: www.festivalofsexwork.com