RESPECT INC CONDEMNS SEX WORKER OUTING IN MEDIA
Respect Inc, Queensland’s sex worker organisation, condemns this week’s decision by the Gold Coast Bulletin to ‘out’ a sex worker, a mother of young children by printing her legal name, sex work name and photo. Respect Inc contacted the media outlet and even though they were advised of the potential safety and privacy impact they refused to act responsibly.
Sex workers experience excessively high levels of stigma, discrimination and vilification and having a legal name linked to a sex work profile can result in targetting and violence. Outing a sex worker in mainstream media can impact on safety, housing, healthcare access, mental health, social inclusion, domestic and family violence, treatment by police and access to justice. Sex workers have experienced violence when outed.
Sex workers, like all community members, should be able to expect media outlets to avoid intruding on a person’s reasonable expectations of privacy. Reporting on a matter not connected to a person’s sex work experience should not result the inclusion of information on whether they have been or are a sex worker. The fact that a person is a sex worker is not justifiably in the public interest.
Some media outlets have recognised that they have a responsibility when reporting information which places a woman and her children’s safety at risk. The Gold Coast Bulletin chose to ignore this ethical standard and instead provided unnecessary details which could enable the person and her children’s address to become known.
A person’s use of a locked social media account can not become an excuse for mainstream media to share the person’s information in the public arena.
This shameful act on the eve of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers by the Gold Coast Bulletin, including their refusal to not out the person, demonstrates how little care there is for sex worker safety, and that of our families.