Zahra Stardust

Zahra Stardust Academic Headshot Web Quality Resized SmallDoctor of Philosophy (completion 2017)
University of New South Wales

Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture & Society (2014)
University of Amsterdam

Master of Arts (Research) – Gender & Cultural Studies (2011)
University of Sydney

Bachelor of Law – Honours (2008)
University of Sydney

Bachelor of Arts – Modern History (2004)
University of Sydney

World Association for Sexual Health (Member)

International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (Associate Member)

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (Member)

Cultural Studies Association of Australasia (Member)
Australian Women and Gender Studies Association (Member)
For the past decade I have been working in human rights with an explicit focus on sexuality. During that time I have worked for corporate law firms, NGOs, community organisations, academic institutions and United Nations bodies, conducting legal research, undertaking qualitative interviews, performing policy analysis, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, presenting at international conferences and guest lecturing in areas of gender, law, sexuality, violence and identity. I have a commitment to evidence-based law reform, peer-driven approaches, community building and social justice that informs my research, policy and advocacy.

My current PhD research at the University of New South Wales examines the legal regulation of pornography in Australia, focusing on the human rights implications of criminalising queer intimacies. This follows the completion of my Master of Arts (Gender and Cultural Studies) thesis at the University of Sydney on feminist activism among erotic performers.

Areas of interest: international human rights law; anti-discrimination law; criminology; sex work; sexuality; queer theory; feminist theory; critical race theory; disability studies; marxist theory; anarchist theory.

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'Ethical research is crucial but especially so when it comes to marginalised and stigmatised communities' (Jules Kim and Elena Jeffreys, 2013)

I am currently writing my PhD in the School of Arts and Media under the supervision of Dr Kath Albury and Dr Daniel Joyce (Faculty of Law), receiving an Australian Postgraduate Award and Top Up Scholarship. This research follows the completion of my Master of Arts (Gender and Cultural Studies) thesis at the University of Sydney and former Research Assistant positions at the University of Sydney and University of Technology.

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'Researchers need to consider the moral and political effects of the types of stories they tell' (Mary L O’Brien and Annie Madden, 2007)

For four years I was the Policy Officer for national peak organisation Scarlet Alliance, conducting consultations, providing policy analysis and performing advocacy on law reform, human rights, workplace health and safety, HIV prevention and health promotion. This included preparing briefings to ministerial advisory committees, giving evidence at federal inquiries, and meeting with United Nations representatives.

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'One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws', Martin Luther King.

'An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so', Mahatma Gandhi.

I am the 2015 International Spokesperson for Scarlet Alliance. In my various roles I have spoken at conferences, presented seminars and given guest lectures in Australia, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom, at academic institutions, United Nations bodies, NGOs, law firms and community organisations. My topics have included the criminalisation of sexual behaviour, classification, sex industry regulation, human rights, intersectionality, sex education, migration, law reform and feminism.

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Human Rights

'In most countries, discrimination remains legal against women, men who have sex with men, sex workers, drug users, and ethnic minorities. This must change... Not only is it unethical not to protect these groups: it makes no sense from a health perspective. It hurts all of us.' (Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, 2008)

For the past eight years I have been working directly on human rights issues with an explicit focus on sexuality, including investigative work on reproductive health for UNFPA in Eritrea; monitoring the Australian Government’s gender and development obligations for UN Women Australia; casework to recover compensation for sexual abuse at Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre; legal and policy research on Native Title at the Kimberley Land Council; and advocating nationally for LGBTIQ rights for the Australian Sex Party.

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I am currently a Postgraduate Teaching Fellow at the University of New South Wales, teaching in Criminology and Social Research and Policy. I have previously taught at the University of Sydney in Gender and Cultural Studies on sexuality, identity, embodiment, power, discourse and violence within feminist, social political and cultural theory, including debates about gender, class, race, ethnicity and reproductive technologies.

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My research has appeared in a number of international journals and books in areas of porn studies, sexuality and gender studies, HIV prevention, feminism and law.

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I have had the pleasure of being an invited speaker for diverse audiences around the world including academic staff, industry professionals, human rights delegates, peers and students, at conferences, seminars, lectures and community forums.

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