Addressing Common Myths Regarding Work in Brothels

Sydney has a regulated and legal brothel industry. As of 2023, the city has approximately 39 legal brothels and 40 diverse establishments within the adult entertainment industry, including ‘restricted premises’ and gentlemen’s clubs, in Sydney. As a city with significant brothels operating, it’s not uncommon for people to receive services. However, people can have misconceptions, stigmas, and misinformation surrounding work in brothels. Therefore, it’s essential to have accurate information and dispel myths to foster a better understanding of the individuals who choose this profession. This article will address some common myths regarding brothel jobs in Sydney and provide a more nuanced perspective.

Myth 1: All Brothel Workers Are Coerced or Trafficked

A widespread myth suggests that all brothel workers are victims of coercion or human trafficking. While this is true in some cases, not all sex workers in brothels fit this category. Many engage in sex work voluntarily, either for financial reasons or personal choice. It’s essential to differentiate between those coerced into the profession and those who willingly choose it.

Myth 2: Sex Workers Lack Agency

Another misconception is that sex workers have no control over their work and lives. In reality, many sex workers make informed decisions, negotiate their services, and set boundaries. Exploitation exists but doesn’t define the entire sex worker community. Efforts should empower sex workers, protect their rights, and provide support for those seeking to leave the industry.

Myth 3: All Sex Workers Are Substance Abusers

There’s a stereotype that all sex workers are involved in substance abuse. While some may struggle with addiction, it doesn’t apply to everyone. Many sex workers do not use drugs, engaging in the profession for various reasons. Avoid making sweeping generalisations about their lifestyles.

Myth 4: Childhood Trauma Is a Universal Experience

It’s common to assume that all sex workers have experienced childhood trauma. While some have faced hardships, it’s not universal. People enter the sex industry for diverse reasons, making generalisations about their past experiences unfair.

Myth 5: Sex Workers Can’t Be Happy in Their Work

A prevalent myth is that sex workers can’t find happiness or fulfilment in their profession. However, like any other occupation, some sex workers enjoy their job, establish positive client relationships, and take pride in providing companionship and intimacy. It’s crucial to respect their choices and agency.

Myth 6: Legalisation Increases Trafficking

Some argue that legalising or decriminalising sex work leads to more human trafficking. Research and experiences from countries implementing such policies suggest otherwise. Regulation can protect sex workers, reduce exploitation, and shift the focus to combating trafficking.

Myth 7: All Brothels Are Unsafe

Not all brothels are unsafe. Legal and regulated establishments prioritise safety for both workers and clients. They enforce health and safety standards, regular health screenings, and measures to prevent violence and exploitation. Distinguish between legal and illegal operations.

Myth 8: Sex Workers Don’t Deserve Legal Protection

Sex workers deserve legal protections and rights, like any other workers. These safeguards ensure their dignity, access to healthcare, protection from violence, and recourse if mistreated. Legal protections can reduce risks and vulnerabilities.

Myth 9: Criminalising Clients Protects Sex Workers

Criminalising clients may not protect sex workers and can have adverse effects. It can push sex work underground, increasing dangers and reducing income—many advocate for full decriminalisation to ensure safety.

Myth 10: A Single Narrative Defines Sex Workers

Assuming a single narrative for all sex workers is inaccurate. They come from diverse backgrounds, have different motivations, and face unique challenges. Listening to their voices and recognising their diversity is essential to challenge stereotypes and reduce stigma.


Addressing common myths and misconceptions surrounding brothel jobs in Sydney is crucial for promoting a more informed and empathetic understanding of this complex and multifaceted industry. Recognising the diversity of experiences among sex workers, respecting their agency and choices, and advocating for their rights and safety are essential steps towards creating a more inclusive and supportive society for all individuals, regardless of their profession.

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