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Sex workers protest over verdict

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Thursday, December 17, 2009 12:41:00

ELEANOR HALL: The union representing sex workers rallied in Sydney this morning to protest about a
court ruling which found that a US Marine was not guilty of raping a prostitute in Sydney's red
light district.

The Scarlet Alliance says this underlines that when sex workers are hurt or abused they are not
taken seriously by authorities.

Meredith Griffiths has our report.

(Sounds from protest)

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The entrance to Sydney's Downing Centre court complex was awash in a sea of red
this morning.

About 30 people in red clothes, red wigs, red latex or carrying red umbrellas took to the steps to
protest a recent court case.

JANELLE FAWKES: In New South Wales we now know that as sex workers when we experience violence from
clients that don't come in the time they've paid for, that the justice system will not recognise
this as violence in our workplace.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: On the 23rd of November a District Court jury found Petty Officer Timothy Davis
not guilty of raping a woman in a brothel in Potts Point when the 25 year old was on shore leave
last year.

The woman told the court she had consensual protected sex with him for 25 minutes before he became
violent and forced her to have unprotected sex for the last five minutes of his appointment.

Members of the sex workers union, the Scarlet Alliance, watched the case closely.

SPEAKER: The client, a US Marine, admitted to using a lock down manoeuvre to pin the sex worker to
the bed. He admitted to placing his hand over her mouth to silence her screaming. The jury viewed
police photos depicted scratches on the worker's body. And yet despite this the jury found him not
guilty of any charge.

Would he have walked free if she'd been an employee of any other industry?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Janelle Fawkes is the chief executive of the Scarlet Alliance.

JANELLE FAWKES: When we report crime very rarely are we taken seriously within the judicial
process.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: That man in question, the US Marine, did have his day in court. Both he and the
woman in question were able to give evidence and be cross examined and then a jury did find him not
guilty. How come the matter can't just lie there?

JANELLE FAWKES: We find that it's unusual for a general community member to understand that sex,
sexual assault is not part of a sex worker's job. Sex work is a consensual arrangement between two
people and when a sex worker says no, or that's enough, or stop, it has the same meaning as it does
for any woman.

So we see that juries sometimes don't recognise the rights of sex workers.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Similar demonstrations are being held around the country today to mark the
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

The New South Wales Rape Crisis Centre has backed the protests, saying that sex work is not
inherently dangerous but that Australian policies and laws put sex workers in dangerous
environments.

The men and women on the steps of the Downing Centre this morning insist they will not take that
lying down.

SPEAKER: We make this noise to demand protection from discrimination and we make this noise as a
warning. The sex workers of New South Wales will not be silenced.

(Cheers and whistles and horns blowing)

ELEANOR HALL: Sex workers protesting on the streets of Sydney ending that report by Meredith
Griffiths.