Project Respect which was founded in 1998 by Kathleen Maltzahn to challenge violence against and exploitation of women in the sex industry. Since 2000 the organisation has provided intensive support through activities such as outreach, counselling, education assistance, legal and financial support, and social activities to encourage peer support and relaxation. Advocacy and work for systemic change has always been at the heart of Project Respect’s work.
Project Respect is a support and referral service for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women in the sex industry who assist women one-on-one, create a safe community and advocate for women’s rights. They exist because women matter. They are a non-profit, feminist, community-based organisation.
Project Respect believes that every woman who is trafficked for sexual exploitation or is part of the sex industry has the right to feel safe and respected, regardless of her views or circumstances. There is an understanding that each woman experiences the industry differently. She could find it empowering, or deeply harmful, or somewhere in between. Our work is fundamentally about human rights – Project Respect want to see an end to human trafficking for sexual exploitation. But they also want to see an end to situations where women feel they have no choice but to enter the sex industry. No choice but to put up with disrespectful clients. And no way to access the support they need, if they ever do want to leave. Project Respect exist for the women who seek and need support, without judgement.
In 2003 Project Respect spearheaded a country-wide campaign to put trafficking on the national agenda. That campaign resulted in the end of the mandatory detention of trafficked women, prosecutions of traffickers, support for trafficked women and changes to Australia’s laws on trafficking.
Since this time Project Respect has continued its vital outreach to women in the sex industry. Additionally Project Respect has contributed to policy formation, legislative reform and research to benefit women in the sex industry, and particularly those trafficked to Australia.
Project Respect has also established a program for law enforcement agencies, government departments and non-government organisations offering training on working with women in the sex industry, including survivors of trafficking.
Project Respect acknowledges that women's experiences in the sex industry are different - there is no clear right or wrong.
For more information check out their website at http://www.projectrespect.org.au/
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