The Melbourne Writers Festival program has been public for less than 24 hours and the organisers have already been forced to change the name of one of the events, which drew the ire of the sex worker community. The program, released last night, originally included an event titled “The Sex Trade: Murder and Survival“, featuring Melinda Tankard Reist, Ruth Wykes and Meagan Tyler. Tankard-Reist and Tyler have have campaigned against porn and/or sex work regularly, while Wylie supports decriminalisation of sex work and has recently co-written a book about the treatment of murdered sex workers by the media and society at large. The event description says it will “explore the devastating impact of prostitution on the lives of sex workers” and the name has now been changed to “Invisible Women”. Both the title of the event, the speakers featured and the failure to include on the panel any sex workers — and there are sex workers in the writing community — has angered many.

Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated author Ruth Wykes had also campaigned against sex work and pornography. This was incorrect, and has been amended. 

Peter Fray

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