Every day a woman in the sex trade wakes up alive to hold her children or hug her loved ones is especially something to be celebrated, because all their lives are especially valued and recognised.
It is important to note that the vast majority in the sex trade are not there by choice, The sex trade silences the many voices that no one hears, these being
mostly women and children of colour, women and children in poverty, from domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, dependancies and poverty. Wahine Toa Rising co – founder and Survivor Ally-Marie Diamond says “Many voices go unheard in this continued debate. No one is arguing that women in the sextrade should not be decriminalised. We absolutely agree they should be.
However with Domestic Violence, Coercion and Trafficking on the rise we recognise full decriminalisation in New Zealand has only fed and encouraged behaviours, especially from sex buyers, that we are all so desperately trying to erase.” We have to find another way and The Equality Model is proven to reduce harm as well as demand.
Wahine Toa Rising is a survivor-led organisation in New Zealand and Australia who support people who are being exploited in the sex trade with the majority they support being women, Diamond says, “Many women Wahine Toa Rising supports have been trafficked as children and report being too afraid to approach police for fear of reprisal from their pimps, managers, peers, and even families.
Due to this fear they often go unheard and unseen. It seems the only voices taken into consideration are the voices the Government can hear, those they can see, and those who don’t make them feel uncomfortable. But how about those many voices that remain hidden that the Government has a duty to hear and protect.
Brave sex trade Survivors from Australia have collectively sent their personal lived experiences to local members in recent weeks in support of Nicola Centofanti MLC and the Equality Model.
One survivor in particular shares with them a different perspective, something that the Government needs to hear and take into consideration when they vote.
Cat the daughter of a survivor asks members of South Australia to Imagine their own child is affected by this, to imagine how they would feel if one of their children was affected by the injustice that consistently exists within the sex trade, because this happens every day.
She goes on to say that we are not just looking at the effect it has directly on the person themselves, we also need to be aware of the effect it has on these individuals’ families, their parents, their children, their partners and the next generation to come.
She say it is time you stand for change, stand for those that can’t stand for themselves, stand for children who have no choice, stand for people who have the right to have a voice, stand for changing the laws that allow so many women, children and families to come to harm in one way or another through pure lack of support.
She says to them, this is not going away, turning a blind eye will not make it less real. It is here and it needs to be addressed now because if it isn’t how many more lives will we have to lose before you take notice and make a stand?
Wahine Toa Rising hears the concerns from women currently in the sex trade.
Concerns around losing their sense of community, worried that this law will isolate them and put them in more danger. Ally-Marie Diamond, survivor and founder of Wahine Toa Rising says the equality model does not put them in harm’s way in fact it makes sure they are fully supported by a community who sees, hears, and values them increasing their safety and well-being.
Yes we hear that there are women who want to stay in the sex trade, their body their choice, but this does not make it right, we also have women who choose to stay in violent relationships but we don’t create laws so they can stay, we create laws that say no to violence against women and children and make sure there are support systems in place so they can leave safely when they are ready and have a community around them.
The Equality Model says no to violence against women and children in all forms including the sextrade. If we normalise the buying and selling of women we will never reduce domestic violence or any forms of violence against women and children. New Zealand is a prime example of this having one of the highest rates of Sexual and Domestic Violence in the developed world.
Ally-Marie Diamond asks members when they go to vote to remember the lives that have been tragically lost, those who continue to suffer, who have no voice, or have been coerced, forced or living this life with limited to no choice. Let’s remember the children who are not counted, ignored and silenced, the mothers who have lost daughters, and daughters who have lost mothers, but most importantly let’s remember that our human rights are for all not just the few.