Home' Scoop : Scoop 67 Autumn Edition Contents 70 S COOP AUTUMN 2014
Sex offender registries, ADHD
medication, and the money that
charities won’t accept...
Why my money is considered
too dirty for charity
Mary-Anne Kenworthy entered the sex industry at the age of 27; she is now
a millionaire entrepreneur who has operated two of the largest brothels in
WA. A campaigner for the legalisation of prostitution and for improving the
rights of sex workers, she is also a mother and a philanthropist who donates
regularly to good causes... except that where her money is concerned, she
can’t give it away. Literally. words Mary-Anne Kenworthy (as told to Claire Martin)
or many recognised charities, my money
is still considered too controversial.
I have essentially been forced to ‘go
underground’ with my charitable
giving, in the same way that prostitutes are forced
underground because of misinformation and
negative perceptions within the community.
Through a charity box at my Langtrees brothel,
I raise at least $1000 a week, gifted by my clients
and the girls that work there. We don’t have a liquor
licence, but if clients tickle my charity box with
their money, I’ll offer them a beer or champagne as
a friend and guest of the house. The more money
they give, the more generous I feel... I match this
dollar for dollar out of my own pocket, so there is
at least $100,000 a year to donate.
I can understand why organisations don’t want
to take my money, because being a Madam isn’t
legal in the state. But despite this, I’m actually not
doing anything illegal either: I think the issue with
my charitable giving is really about the stigma
Before 1999, I didn’t really have this problem.
Then, prostitution was regulated by a ‘containment
policy’, which meant that while prostitutes could
not work on the streets, they could work in police-
listed brothels. The policy was created and enforced
by the police, but it was never legally put through
government as a bill. As such there was no ‘real’ law,
but the system was widely socially accepted.
Then, in 1999, there was a proposed prostitution
bill, which said that because containment was not
technically law, it didn’t mean anything. While this
bill was never passed it eroded the validity of the
police containment policy, so the public became
ver y unclear on the ter ms of how prostitution and
brothels operate in WA.
What really damaged my ability to support
charities was the intense media scrutiny around
the bill that demonised and further stigmatised the
business of prostitution. Many registered charitable
organisations that I donated to began to see me as
tarnishing their reputation. My money became quite
unfavourable – but, not illegal! A new bill in 2011
reignited the debate.
My only option is to give at a ‘grassroots’ level,
personally deciding who I think deser ves the
money. One of my favourite charities that I have
created is for a group of children in the Philippines
who live under a bridge. I befriended them during
a trip to Manila. Over time, I have partnered with
a local woman who facilitates my donations for the
schooling and temporar y housing for 10 of these
children, and together we feed up to 60 people
daily. Most of their mothers are sex workers, and
by feeding them as well we give them more focus
so they can better care for their children. It is
important to me that I support industry mothers
and their children: it’s my industry, and you should
support your industry first.
I prefer not to donate the grassroots way; it can
be very difficult, and it’s hard to have accountability.
But it’s a matter of necessity because stigma is
preventing this money from being used accountably,
through registered organisations. I would prefer that
a charity like Rotary pick it up and do it properly.
Rotary are wonderful because they get 95 cents
from the dollar direct to the charitable cause.
Meanwhile I have to work very hard to check for
accountability with the people I work with overseas,
and I have to really just tr ust people along the way.
Many people put $100 in the charity ‘tip’ jar, and it’s
left with me to make the decision on who receives
it! It’s wrong that I alone make these decisions – it
should go by a for malised committee.
Also, I could die tomorrow... who’s going to look
after the kids I support through charity then? I need
to for malise the process. My son said to me recently,
“What do you want to do with it all at the end of
the day?” I said, “I want to give it all away before
I die. Not just to my children, but to all children, to
I’ve been very lucky in this life, and if you can’t
pay it forward, what’s the point of being alive?
“Through a charity box at my Langtrees
brothel, I raise at least $1000 a week, gifted
by my clients and the girls that work there.”
Links Archive Scoop 66 Summer Edition Scoop 68 Winter Edition Navigation Previous Page Next Page