Sex workers at risk of violence as the internet cuts demand for their services

Sep 14, 2015
Sex Work News
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Sex workers are increasingly at risk of violence, and being forced to do things they don’t want to – and the internet is at least partly to blame. That’s the frank assessment of women who have worked on the streets and in the legal and illegal brothel industries, and have been interviewed by Fairfax Media.

All say that there is considerably less demand for sex work than five years ago and, as women compete for fewer clients, they are facing demands for unsafe sexual practices and regular violence.

Project Respect, a not-for-profit group that supports women in the sex industry, is calling for the everyday violence against sex workers to be recognised as just as significant a problem as violence against women more broadly.

Kathleen Maltzahn, the group’s founding director, says there was a view that once sex workers had taken a client’s money, they consented to everything that occurred with that client.

“As long as people think, ‘you took the money so therefore you consented’, that’s going to be a big problem,” she says.

The women interviewed by Fairfax Media said the rise of internet “hook up” sites such as and f— were making it easier for men to connect with sex workers and sexual partners, and contributing to a downturn in the industry.

They say violence is a daily part of their life. The most common forms are biting, slapping, pinching, hair pulling, verbal abuse and rough sex, which they say is present in almost every interaction. None had reported being victims of this violence, which they considered “part of the job”.

At Project Respect’s Fitzroy office, four women who have recently left the sex industry sit around a table. Haltingly at first, they tell their stories.

Jen* says when she started brothel work five years ago, women could make $500-$600 over a seven-hour day shift. Now, they’d be lucky to make $200.

Hannah, who spent about six years doing street sex work in St Kilda, says that as the industry declines, sex workers have been forced to drop their prices, and offer services that would have previously attracted a high fee.

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7 years ago

Such a crock of crap. The internet has made it safer because there is some ability to vette tricks. Also, the sugar daddy sites are loaded with pros and broads who want some plausible deniability about being prostitutes. In addition, streetwalkers may feel the pinch, but if they weren’t addicted and skanked out, they wouldn’t mind putting some pix on a website to get work. And finally, if the sex workers interviewed were working 5yrs ago, to notice the difference, maybe they have reached their expiration date. Ya aint getting the same rate and demand at 30 that ya did… Read more » - Buy & Sell Adult Traffic
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