(a rebloggable version of this post, with some additional concerns)
i want to preface this by saying this is not a comprehensive list of the potential problems that would arise from a licensing system like the one mentioned here and other sex workers could definitely point…
Vic SW here, government registered (in the terminology of the Act I have an SWA) as is required to do indie work without risking prosecution. The system we have in this jurisdiction is regulated and legalised, with any work performed in breach of the governing Act and regulations being criminalised* This is a fairly typical Australian model and its real-time operation provides a good illustration of how some of the concerns raised by the OP might play out or not.
+how would we verify that a sex worker is registered?
___would they be required to carry a special sex worker id, and show it to police officers who requested it? any kind of physical id leads to the risk of someone discovering it
___memorise an id number? it would be easy enough to incorporate that into advertisements (although if you’re advertising in a newspaper that would potentially increase your costs), but having to recite a lengthy identity number if someone checks up on you while you’re working? not so much
Upon being granted an SWA (application is through the Business Licensing Authority, or BLA, at no cost), a certificate with yer new SWA number is mailed to you. You need to quote the number in any advertising; that’s pretty much it. No need to carry an ID. Classifieds sites take a few days to put your ad up after you submit it cuz they need to verify the SWA.
+if a sex worker wants to work under multiple aliases (some of my friends do both vanilla and Domme work, and they use different names so as not to scare off potential vanilla clients), would they be required to register each alias separately?
Yah,all yer work names have to be registered with the BLA, which is a large part of why I haven’t been arsed with using a new one, though I’m starting to find my psuedonym du jour cloying at times. Those things have a shelf life for sure.
+how would you get off the register?
___would you have to be “clean” for a certain length of time? that would potentially damage people’s ability to find alternative employment, which would make it harder for them to leave the industry if that’s what they want
___it’s unlikely you would be able to call up and be unregistered in a single day, so it almost inevitably creates an extra barrier to quitting work or taking time off
BLA claim that we can be removed at any time on request. I imagine they’d simply take your name off the computer data base, though have not looked into this since I’ve no plans to become unregistered. The register’s not open to the general public, so I’m pretty happy to stay on it open-endedly.
-registration would also ruin one’s ability to travel to many countries
Yup, but I’m an anxious creature and terrified of overseas travel any old how, so smeh. This’d bother lotsa people though, I’m sure.
+registration would likely make it easier for agencies to check whether sex workers are working privately
No, only govt bodies like the ATO can examine the register, as can the cops.
Mandatory STD testing
+it reinforces the myth that sex workers are uniquely dirty, when studies have repeatedly found that sex workers have lower rates of stds than the general population.
+which also means:
___it’s a waste of medical resources which could be better allocated elsewhere
___it’s a waste of money for sex workers, who are usually required to pay for testing out of their earnings
___it’s a waste of time for sex workers, and therefore a waste of earning potential
which reinforces, yet again, the class divide of a registration system.
Yups, you’re often waiting around hours for your test, and since safer sex is routine in the Aussie sex industry, rates of STDs among sex workers are lower than among the general public. Also most places in Melbourne don’t bulk bill for the tests now, though the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre still does. However, you can only attend that clinic during business hours and only on a drop in basis.
it reinforces the idea that it’s ok to touch a sex worker’s body without their consent.
Yes and no - technically we do consent but this is done under economic duress. However the same might be said for sex work itself, and work in general for that matter. I’ve dealt with these arguments from non-workers enough to have grown weary of them and the disingenuous decontextualisation that invariably comes with them (eg treating my industry as an anomaly from industry and the economic system per se; this is most misleading, to put it mildly).
Thus I’d be more inclined to say that mandated testing ‘reinforces the idea that the sex worker is to be subjected to coercive government control and infantilisation and cannot be trusted to self-regulate’. The OP’s argument is gonna mean slugging it out over choice and consent yet again. Especially since, if you’re going to say economic coercion vitiates consent in this instance, you’re not going to be able to meaningfully fend off the usual abolitionist claims that sex work is paid rape per se. This leaves us wide open to arguments supporting the Nordic Model. It makes more sense to simply accept that few economic choices are truly made freely - neither consent to medical testing for work nor our work itself - but that no-one’s going all end coffee demand over wage slavery at Starbucks and so a double standard is applied in the case of sex workers.
+it violates patient confidentiality
___by tying this to registration, it’s implied that your medical status will be available for clients to see, to know that you’re clean (and vice versa, that workers will be able to access medical data about their clients)
+it forces sex workers to out themselves to medical staff
+it creates a false sense of security about sexual health, which might lead to risky behaviour
___in particular, it almost guarantees that clients will ask for unprotected sex because “you can see that i’m clean!”
Sort of. Privacy law prevents results being handed over to third parties, so what you get is a certificate, in your work name, confirming only that you have been tested. You will not be given a clearance to work if you’re found to have an STD, though, as per the provisions of the Sex Work Act. No quibbles with the outing contention; impossible to wrangle testing otherwise. The last two points are I think temperamental rather than universal.
*cf decriminalisation, which differs from *legalised* models in that sex work is removed from criminal jurisdiction altogether. It may still be regulated civilly. This is the current model in NSW and NZ, though sadly under threat in both these jurisdictions.