Sex Workers Alliance Ireland Censored from Big Picture RTE program: “A Women’s World”
“A Woman’s World” is due to be aired tonight on RTE. SWAI contacted the program about having someone from their organisation or an individual specifically affected by these issues to take part as an audience member, but they were refused. Kate McGrew, director of SWAI was told by the researcher that someone who has experience in this area will be there. When SWAI asked if it was a current sex worker – as these are the people suffering a targeted increase of violence on a daily basis – SWAI was told by the program that they “did not have time for this”.
Kate McGrew said “This is unacceptable. This is a silencing of the voices of the very people whose physical and sexaul assault is being swept under the carpet in order to push forward with a law that only serves a moral agenda. Big Picture cannot claim to investigate the topic of violence against women and precarity whilst blocking and ignoring the people whose lives are most endangered in Ireland on a daily basis. There is no-one who can speak on their safety concerns and lived experience but these people themselves. With what other group of people would this be acceptable?”
She continues “In 2018 we have seen momentous change for women when we repealed the 8th Amendment, but we have also seen some devastating sexual assault cases come to light. One of the reasons we were able to repeal the 8th was that we encouraged people to have difficult conversations. We asked people to be brave and face those awkward conversations and asked people to listen to real stories. We all want the best for women and girls and we should be open to hearing the experiences of those affected, not just those that agree with us. Bodily autonomy extends further than abortion access.”
Aoife Bloom, sex worker and board member of SWAI, added “Sex Workers Alliance Ireland is comprised of and represents some of the most marginalised and vulnerable women in Ireland. Sex workers, particularly trans women and people of colour in sex work, disproportionately suffer sexual violence in their lives and work, exacerbated by laws which make our work more dangerous and precarious. Yet not only have we been excluded from the #metoo movement, but in many cases in Ireland have been subject to prominent women’s organisations and feminists claiming that sex workers in fact are the one group of women whose consent does not mean anything. Exchange of money for sex does not negate consent.
In the face of rising rates of violence against this specific group and their position of being the only people it is deemed acceptable to victim-blame, it is unacceptable that they have been refused a place in the audience on this very topic.”