By Rachael Wong
As activists continue to call for the liberalisation of prostitution laws in Australia, Canadian sex trade survivor and abolitionist Andrea Heinz has made some poignant comments that in the words of Australian activist Melinda Tankard Reist, “you don’t see very often”.
In a series of tweets this week, Andrea expresses her regret about her years in the prostitution industry, particularly the impact it had on other women.
“I have many regrets from my time in the sex trade, but none so many or severe as the damage I directly and indirectly did to my fellow women.”
“To all the women I “employed” at my brothel, I am so sorry. To all the gfs/wives of the men I had sex with, & all the women in family units with men who I took family unit funds from, I am so sorry. To all the women I impacted culturally by saying “sex work is work”, I am so sorry”.
“The trauma doesn’t end when the shift at the brothel does. It continues every time we sit on a couch paid for with sex trade earnings, every time we put on a shirt paid for with sex trade earnings…every time that we are reminded that all we own is a result of our sexual abuse.”
Andrea is right about the normalisation of prostitution as “work” and the cultural impact on women. Without taking away from the horrific abuse and trauma suffered by those in the sex trade, it can be said that the legitimisation of prostitution in society harms all women. Continuing to perpetuate the narrative that women’s bodies are for sale, that they are fair game for all kinds of unspeakable violence and abuse, and that prostitution is just a job like any other, feeds the degradation and objectification of women as a whole.
Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women’s Forum Australia