House of Ill Repute
Project info

Sex work is legal and regulated in many states within Australia. Of the few remaining states in which it is not legal, South Australia is the one in which penalties are most severe.

Despite this, many women and men choose to work in Adelaide’s sex industry. Despite the common stereotype, many workers are consenting adults who have found sex work to be a suitable career choice. Some work from hotels or private residences, and others choose to work in one of the cities many brothels—which provide a network of other workers and management, and a place in which they can work with more safety and security than if they were to work alone.

While sex work has never been legal in South Australia, the law has never been greatly enforced when it comes to consenting adult workers. This has allowed the industry to be relatively open and for businesses to remain established for decades.

However, in mid-2016 things began to change. In less than a year there have been numerous police raids on several long-running brothels—women have been arrested and charged, and had their property and earnings seized from them. Almost every well-established brothel has been forced to close, leaving workers in crisis.

The reason for these raids and arrests is apparently out of concern for the safety of sex workers, but when these establishments are forced to close, workers are not safer—they are simply forced elsewhere

These images were taken after the forced closure of one of Adelaide’s longest running brothels. After nearly 20 years, the business has been forced to sell everything and move on.

Most of the women are still working.